Speed, style and control: Jill Kintner makes riding trails look effortless
Jill Kintner only knows one speed – fully pinned. Watch as the downhill mountain bike star flies through her home trails of Bellingham, USA, in the latest installment of the MTB Raw series.
Inspiration always seems to strike when least anticipated. Creativity can spark from a song, a walk in the woods, or for Jill Kintner, sometimes all it takes is the right bike. This past summer Jill got her hands on Norco’s new Sight, trying out 29er wheels for the first time, which seemed like a match made in heaven.
Kintner immediately noticed a palpable difference with her riding, amplifying both her speed and control on this nimble new trail bike. When the five-time Queen of Crankworx says she feels on point, that means a lot. Unable to shake the impression, she reached out to her good buddy and cinematographer Clay Porter to help her capture the feeling for MTB Raw.
Watch the results of their work here or in the player above and read on below for insights into the work that went into this MTB Raw shoot from Kintner and Porter.
"I felt like I was on a new level with this bike and I wanted to capture that," says Kintner, a former Olympian, World Cup racer and now a star performer on the Crankworx World Tour. "Overall, the goal wasn't anything fancy, but to showcase pure riding, which is what I hoped to do."
Of course it helps to have a world-class action sports filmmaker in your phone's contact list if you want to make an edit on the fly. Porter has directed and produced films with the bike industry's top athletes for the last 17 years. Kintner and Porter's careers have also paralleled each other, both finding success within the bike industry.
"It's been exciting to watch her evolution as an athlete and reflect how I've evolved as well, but differently," Porter explains.
Filming was low-key and simple
"As an athlete, you rarely get to have a major say in the production and since it was just Clay, Bryn and I, the vibe was low-key, relaxed and approachable," Kintner says.
Aside from a small film project back when Porter was first starting out back in the 2000s, the pair hadn't properly filmed something together. It felt long overdue to collaborate and make something incredible. And Porter didn't need much convincing to get on board.
"With these projects, we're all there to do work and make something we're proud of, but at the end of the day, it's also an excuse to spend time with people you like," says Porter.
Shooting in Bellingham
The MTB Raw shoot was filmed entirely on local trails in Bellingham in Washington State, an area full of rich forests and glorious singletrack. Kintner did her homework about where to ride, prioritising singletrack, as this was where she could put the throttle down. She also had a clear vision for the edit. It was going to be no-frills and entirely focused on one crucial factor: speed.
"They're my favourite trails and some of the fastest you can find in Bellingham," Kintner explains.
Porter's creative process
Porter brainstormed various ways to add cinematic flair to the recurring theme of the MTB Raw series – to showcase an athlete's pure riding style – without overdoing it.
"I had this idea that after pressing play, it would immediately flash a montage of imagery to build suspense and hook the audience visually," Porter explains.
Porter experimented with elements like hyper slow-mo and spinning the camera as Jill flew past the frame. As a result, tension builds through the piece.
"Jill's riding is so precise that a lot of things get missed from a glance. The slow motion lets the audience take it all in." Porter says.
"He [Porter] nailed it. The spinning effect gives the viewer a chance to breathe and transition into a new moment," Kintner adds.
The real icing on the cake for the shoot came from the post-production process. Porter worked closely with sound designer Keith White to nail the sounds from the riding – the bike in motion, tyres impacting with loose dirt and the subtle whoosh of Jill flying through ferns – to communicate the idea of velocity viscerally. Kintner also took an active interest in the post-production process and Porter appreciated her input.
"It was cool to see how much she put herself into the edit. She was dialed in and did her research when it came to the shoot. When it came to the post process, out of any athlete I've worked with, she was the most critical of her riding, which was cool to see her level of detail," Porter explains.
The need to inspire
With events and the opportunity to race and ride heavily disrupted by the global health situation, Kintner relished the opportunity to dive into a project of this nature. Unexpectedly, it brought back the nerves of racing. Waiting for the filming cue to drop brought the same kind of exciting pressure to perform.
"Race results come and go, but videos have a lasting impact. I wanted to create something that would be permanent to inspire people."
I personally get really excited and inspired watching other ladies ride at a high level
While the industry has progressed significantly for women in the last decade, filmmaking still has room to grow. And Kintner hopes that athletes like herself can proactively fill the void by creating inspiring content for the next generation of young girls.
“I personally get really excited and inspired watching other ladies ride at a high level. I just want to see more of it!”