Motocross, a sport better known for revving engines and adrenaline than reflective documentaries, gets personal in Spectrum, a web series whose first episode, featuring Colorado Springs native Andrew Short, makes its premiere on Friday, June 30, at SeriesFest.
The name of the doc, according to series creator Kyle Cowling, was inspired because "it's covering the whole spectrum of the sport," from a Danish teenager striving to make it on the amateur circuit to a post-injury pain-pill addiction that consumes a career. While motocross and its cousin, supercross, thrive on extremes, Spectrum employs muted-tone close-ups, as racers reflect on the sport and their experiences (of course, the film also includes some footage of tight turns and high-flying jumps). For the motocross uninitiated, these stories also shed light on the dirt-bike world, describing the powerful vehicles and exhilarating victories as well as the prevalence of homeschooling and the risk of injury among racers.
The eight-episode seasons, released on Vimeo On Demand, combine Cowling's photography and video work with his passion for motocross, which he grew up racing. In 2013, the videographer teamed up with business partner Nick Thiel to start Phantasos Media and started work on Spectrum with the aim of independence: They'd make their own decisions when it came to content, timeline, distribution and monetization. It was "us taking a gamble on ourselves," Cowling said.
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The gamble paid off. They're in production for the third season, and the series' pilot episode, "This is Home," will screen at SeriesFest's Colorado Stories event today. "This is Home" focuses on racer Andrew Short, a proud Coloradan. The 22-minute video takes a candid look at the topography of his long racing career and personal life: the struggle to finally capture a first-place finish at the 2012 AMA Seattle Supercross, falling in and out of favor with top teams, and his infant son Hudson's six surgeries for an eye condition doctors initially thought might be retinoblastoma.
Although Spectrum caters to longtime fans of the sport, its creators are thrilled to show it at SeriesFest. "We finally have an opportunity to present this type of content to a much bigger audience than just the motocross world," Cowling said.