Q&A: CHARLIE CRUMLISH

“I want my videos to look like they were left in the sun next to an old video and they melted together.”

If you’re familiar with Charlie Crumlish’s videos, that quote will make total sense. We caught up with him to do a deep dive into his videos and editing style. Click below for full Q&A.

What’s up, Charlie. Hope all is well your way during these crazy times. First things first. What first sparked your interest in filming and what has kept you in it?

I remember when I was born, the doctors were cleaning me up and there was a guy in there with a camera filming. He slipped on a puddle of afterbirth, the camera flew threw the air and I caught it – pure instinct. I’ve felt comfortable with a camera in my hands ever since.

Who or what first put you on, or gave you a break into the industry?

Jim Cielencki. I was riding a 4 or 5 year old Standard with pinched dropouts and an oval headtube and I had just learned trucks over the hip. He was at the park so I was probably flexin’ for my hero and the next day he texted me and asked what size frame I wanted. Thanks professor.

We’re here to discuss your video making. You’ve got a very signature video editing style. I find myself actually LOL’ing when I watch your videos, as I’m sure most do. They’re full of effects, funny zoom ins, movie/TV snippets and a plethora of other things. How did you end up with this formula? Like, what pops into your head when you think “this video needs a Mike Laird interlude”?

Shit, thanks man! It’s sort of just reacting to whatever I put down on the timeline before that. I used to shape videos up in my head before I went in from beginning to end. I still think a lot before I go in to edit, but now I sort of just have little pieces of ideas, things that used to get thrown out because I liked to edit more cohesively and now it’s straight scatterbrain. It opened up a lot of doors and made it so i just randomly throw these half baked ideas down and try to figure out how to connect them. Keep a little iPhone note and any time a joke pops into my head or one of my friends comes up with something I put it down real quick.

Lately I’ve been kinda moving away from the movie clip thing cuz it’s so over saturated right now. A few tasteful ones here and there are good. Chill on the fake static or make it look unique for anyone still doing that.

The Mike Laird thing, it’s kind of like cooking, sometimes a dish needs something. The dish I was cooking at that time (20 a G) needed a pinch of Mike Laird throwing his bike through the glass. Plus that song I used for the Chris Childs/Mystery Biker section right after that was originally in Laird’s section in Expendable 3 part that I took the snippet from. Then later in Fire Mids, mystery biker had a half section so I used a clip from the Expendable 3 credits that was a second angle of the Mike Laird glass throw. And the song for that part was in Expendable 1 (my first bmx video).

I’m obsessed with the idea of bmx tricks and culture sort of transcending time, like how things go in cycles. Patterns in tricks, gear, bike parts etc… resurface all the time and become sort of timeless in that way. Doing old tricks in new ways, on the bike and on the computer. Nowadays I like to try to make videos that sort of reference that concept. I want my videos to look like they were left in the sun next to an old video and they melted together. That’s part of the reason I lifted the rule about not reusing songs for my shit personally too. We used Edwin’s Can I Eat song in 21 a G for the last section (Pasha Sitko) as kind of a homage. My friends and I grew up watching Can I Eat and that song was at the end, so if a kid can get that same audio experience from a new video that’s sort of that timeless thing I was talking about. Fuck it I’ll even reuse my own songs, alexa play the Boys are Back in Town.

On a scale of 1-10, how high are you when you edit?

Not as high as I had to get to sit down and answer these questions.

Describe your workstation. What does it look like?

It’s a desk in the corner of my bedroom covered in tobacco and weed with a gallon of water nearby at all times and a 2011 Macbook Air on it, the screen doesn’t work unless I push it up against a book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dirty, I clean my desk probably weekly but I spend a lot of hours here every day and it gets pretty cluttered with random shit. Bluetooth headphones, bong, nice chair I found at goodwill for 5 bucks.

Lets talk gear. What camera, software, computer, and accessories do you use?

Sony a7s with a Rokinon 15mm and a 8mm that I bust out here and there that makes the cool full frame vig. I also have a Insta360 one X camera that shoots in full 360, my robot camera. You do the camera movements later in an editing program, it’s so fucking sick. Lately though, for “S&M Wins” I got a new iPhone right before the trip and I ended up shooting a ton of slow mo cinematic sort of shots on that. The camera is amazing. I use Call of Duty a lot during export times too (username Charliecrum420  / charliecrum on xbox)

I’ve always used adobe premiere for editing since I was a pup, I just got into Blender for 3D stuff. Tiny bit of after effects. Virtual DJ sometimes to fuck with songs. Keepvid.com to steal shit but now I can just do the little screen record on my iPhone. Oh, and the main resource tool is youtube.com.

I use the 2011 Macbook Air with a fucked up screen as previously mentioned. A shitty computer will keep you focused and give you lots of loading time between cuts to think about editing decisions. I have a Macbook Pro I need to put a hard drive in and an old gaming tower I need to put an OS on but the air still works so fuck it haha.

I know you can’t have one without the other, but do you prefer the filming or editing aspect?

I mean, going out biking is the best obviously, but actually physically filming vs editing, I gotta go editing because that’s where everything comes together, I just film so I can edit later.

What is your least favorite part of the whole filming/editing process?

My computer actively trying to ruin my life when I need it most.

In this digital age, what is your stance on cleared vs. non-cleared music? You use some big songs.

Yeah fuck it, I just use whatever. For awhile everyone was all about cleared music but youtube’s rules have loosened up a lot. If anything the monetization just goes to the artist and the videos still viewable worldwide, so may as well swing for the fence haha. It does suck when I spend a day making a test edit and a song gets blocked, but that’s pretty rare nowadays.

While your stuff is light hearted and fun, I’m sure you also want to be taken seriously. Is this a fine balance that you are aware of?

Naw man I don’t really care. I’ll admit it’s kind of annoying when people think I’m some slacker stoner though. Not to sound cocky or anything but just speaking on my work ethic, I’m pretty sure I’ve made more videos consistently over the last 10+ years while balancing riding, running youtube channels and all that shit. It’s a lot of hard work and hours on my computer. I heard through the grapevine that I wasn’t trustworthy enough to handle an X Games Street part and that someone thought “you’d just smoke weed the whole time with the money” or something along those lines.

I’m sure you’ve pushed some buttons in your videos. Ever get some real heat for anything?

Uh, to keep it brief, yes. Lots of burned bridges unfortunately, but if someone wants to burn a bridge over internet jokes, so be it. It’s happened so many times that it really is hard to pick one example that is extra funny to tell you about. Got into it this week over some stupid shit but usually within a few text messages I can explain that things in the video are never from a place of hate.

Here’s a nice positive way to spin it. We made fun of Austin Augie a lot, but it was never the actual person Austin Augie. I’ve used an analogy before about how the videos we all make are like different basketball teams, and youtube is the court.

We obviously all make very different kinds of videos and collectively are trying to push videos forward. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in sports, but I’ve been into that idea of our videos vs. vlog style videos is really funny to me. And just like basketball, what happens on the court is just on the court and everyone is (for the most part) homies in real life.

This last S&M trip to California, Austin was in the van filming with us for a few days and it was awesome to hang out and talk about that idea, clear the air and shit. Explained the idea of the basketball court and he totally understood.

It’s all from a place of positivity because obviously anytime anyone cares enough to make bike videos at all and put their passion into it, that should be celebrated. With that said, on the court it’s a little different. When I put shit in the videos about our videos being the best and other peoples videos being inferior it’s a challenge to everyone else (again, on the court) to make better videos. Go ahead, kick our ass cuz it’ll make videos in general better haha. We’ll go back to the drawing board and kick your ass right back again, hahaha. It doesn’t matter really because none of us are going to make a video as good as Team SAF – Searching Acronyms Forever anyway.

Your stamp on a video is so pronounced, that it could slightly overshadow the brand your working with. It almost becomes a Charlie video to me. Is this something you keep in mind, or do you just do you?

For awhile it was hard for me to fit things to brands images, but I think with S&M we have ended up with something really organic cuz my style fits theirs and vice versa. Then the stuff I do for Merritt I definitely change it to a more clean cut, but I like working in a style that isn’t my default. Then I can save up all the personal editing juice and use that on the FU projects.

What or who are some of your non-BMX inspirations?

Off the top of my head and as of late… Partyboi69, Mike Clattenberg, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Madlib, Bones, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Max Palmer, Fancylads, Bronze56k, Kareem J Williams, Mark Hoder and Young Jeezy.

What BMX videographers do you like to check for?

Scerbo, Lino, Motobunka, DWOK/buster/badventures/darling, Team SAF, Business BMX, strangeways, Ratkid, the make, Greg Henry, Erik Elstran, Chris Childs/BCAVE, CLUUT, HHX, Gordon Mcdonald, Justin Benethien, Dylan Yuen, all the Thank You boys, probably forgetting some dope shit. I wanna give a shout to my friends who roll with the local skate squad Moms Skateshop and Dads clothing, they make amazing videos. Dave Eoannou and Tyler Steir. Mike Mastroni and Navaz too.

What was the last BMX video/project that you really loved?

Man I can’t even front I watched Team SAF – Searching Acronyms Forever again today. As far as recent videos, Microcosm was amazing, any of the HHX videos that have come out lately are dope as fuck too, their scene is insane. Krejmas did a good job on the new Odyssey thing as well.

Do you have any observations or criticisms of the BMX video landscape at the moment?

Yeah, mufuckas biting my shit, hahaha. Naw I’m kidding, but lately it does seem like there are editors stepping out of their comfort zone (2 angles of tricks to music) and getting stuck on the fake static movie clip shit and not really tying anything together in a way that makes sense or whatever. Using the same static clip over and over and shit not blending it in, just throwing in random movie clips, not tweaking it enough, etc… Not that I wasn’t guilty of overdoing that style at one point, around Hot Dogs maybe was the peak of just kinda abstract sample based editing for me. I still love how that video turned out but I feel like I edit a lot differently now.

I don’t want to sound like I’m talking shit, I just want everyone to make better videos (myself included). Some people who are “filmer first” need to get some help in the editing room. Making the BMXFU videos has always been a group effort and there’s no way I would be where I’m at without my boys giving me ideas and guidance on how to edit more sharply and to the point and shit.

Also, if we could all collectively stop overusing that stupid tripod lead in then cut mid trick and change angles that’d be sick thanks guys that shit killin my vibe.

Whats next for you?

So, when we were younger, there were a bunch of little shithead kids riding at all the parks in Niagara, right? Well now they’re all grown up and are way better than us at riding, so I’m working on a next gen BMXFU video with them. We were going to spend all year filming it, but with this (Covid-19) shit going on now it might come out sooner than later.

I’d also really like to make a documentary this year about BMXFU. The border is shut down right now because of COVID-19 which is nuts, hopefully it opens up soon and we can start working on it cuz I miss my brothers. Netflix, hit us up.

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