New mountain bike film is ‘unReal’ — literally

Teton Gravity Research Mountain Biking Utah Anthill Films Horses

Mountain Bikers ride through Wyoming among a pack of horses in TGR and Anthill’s new movie, unReal. Photo: Courtesy Teton Gravity Research

Any true action sports enthusiast knows Teton Gravity Research by heart.

Their films are ubiquitous in the ski and snowboarding community, and their trilogy of Jeremy Jones snowboard films — Deeper, Further, Higher — pushed both the cinematic and storytelling limits of what many thought was possible from a snowboarding film.

So when TGR announced last September they’d be partnering with Anthill Films to produce their first ever film on the world of mountain biking, titled unReal, expectations were, understandably, high.

Well, that trailer dropped yesterday, and it looks like they delivered:

Mountain biking on glaciers and riding with stallions! The whole thing looked so absurd that Ryan Dunfee, an associate editor at TGR, and Darcy Wittenburg, one of the movies co-directors from Anthill, had to clarify how it all came together.

Some of the shots in this trailer are incredible, where’d you guys shoot?

Ryan Dunfee: Most of the shots were done in British Columbia. The shots you see where we’re biking on glaciers were shot on Pemberton Icecap in B.C. The first shoot we did was actually just a couple hours from here [Jackson, WY], in a town called Dubois, Wyoming; it has a lot of the red desert-like landscape that you see in the trailer. That was the one shot we did close to town.

Who came up with the idea to shoot with the horses and on a glacier?

Dunfee: I think the whole premise of the film was really to bounce back and forth between this idea of what the reality is and all these imaginative scenarios that might make viewers think they’re dreaming.

Darcy Wittenburg: It was a collection of ideas we've had for a very long time. The glacier idea is one we at Anthill have had for seven or eight years, and we were just waiting for the right film concept to come along where it would make sense. The whole idea for us was to just add a little to each segment that would be more than what someone would ever come in expecting in a mountain bike film. We just wanted to go a level beyond and into the unexpected.

How dangerous were some of these shots?

Wittenburg: The horse shot ended up being pretty hazardous. It took about three days of practice with the horses. They had to get the horses used to the bikes, and then once they got used to it we started the shot down the slope. As soon as we started Brett Rheeder, one of our riders, fell and had his bike trampled by a horse. Then I got trampled as I was doing a shot out in the field where I wanted the horses to run right past me. And I guess they all kind of zigged when they should have zagged, and they all just trampled me. I ended up with what’s called a panfacial fracture, meaning I broke most of the bones in my face, so I had to get helicoptered out of there and have facial reconstructive surgery.

That sounds pretty gnarly. Did that cause any issues with filming?

Wittenburg: It didn't set back filming at all actually, as I didn't take much time off. I got home from the ranch, and five days later I had surgery. A week later we were up in a Cessna scouting the glacier, and two weeks after my surgery we were on the glacier shooting.

For more about the film visit the unReal official webpage.

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