The new Digging For Galena mountain bike film featuring Graham Agassiz lands today. We check in with writer/director Mitchell Scott to find out what inspired him to compare mining to mountain biking.
Mitchell Scott, the editor-in-chief of both Kootenay Mountain Culture and Coast Mountain Culture magazines, is a busy guy. When he’s not writing columns, sourcing story ideas or chastising me for missing deadlines, he’s directing movies such as the latest Digging For Galena mountain bike film that drops today. As a regular contributor for KMC, I’ve seen my fair share of bike flicks but there’s something different about this latest offering that makes it stand out. Maybe it’s the comparison to miners of old. Or seeing Graham Agassiz in full 19th Century garb. Most likely its Mitch and his hilarious Dieter persona that brings a sense of levity to an industry that, let’s be honest, can take itself too seriously sometimes. (We’re only riding bikes, people.)
Digging for Galena begins with the line, “…relentless is our pursuit of za jewels” and so begins the correlation of mining and mountain biking in the West Kootenay region. It ends with “in so many ways it’s the same: not what you seek, but why.” Classic line in true Mitchell Scott fashion. This flick is a jewel in its own right and was made possible thanks to Mind Spark Cinema, Agassiz, Retallack Lodge, SRAM, The Kona Bicycle Co., Monster Energy, Adrian Marcoux, Matt Miles and Mike Kinrade.
Without further ado, here’s our Q&A with the writer and director of Digging For Galena.
Hey Mitch, nice job! How long have you been working on it?
The idea came for the project in the summer of 2015 when we were working on a Kona shoot up at Retallack. Mike Kinrade and Phil Pinfold of Retallack have had the vision to create a trail off of Texas Peak for some time. From the concept of the film to it being released was probably eight months.
What was it like working with the Agassiz after he came back from his injury?
I’ve had the good pleasure of working with Aggy for many years on many different projects. The kid is an incredibly talented athlete. This was his first real riding after a nasty broken hand injury that required surgery. We were all blown away at how he went from six weeks off the bike to riding at this level.
What was a highlight of the shooting?
The big highlight for me was seeing Aggy dressed up in truly authentic mining gear and walking into those mines for the first time. It was like we were seeing a ghost from the past. It was chilling. Even Aggy was feeling goosebumps. That’s when it felt like we were on to a real story, that a character very similar to Aggy was wandering these hills looking for his fortune 120 years ago.
It look a lot of convincing for our bigger sponsors to let Dieter survive through to the final edit. Kudos to Sram, Kona and Monster for taking a chance on what was a pretty weird way to narrate the film. I’m one for taking chances and doing things a little different. Media needs it. Especially in action sports where so much is similar and serious.
What’s your background? Any of your relatives dig for galena around these parts?
None of my relatives actually mined but I have four great-grandparents and tons of great uncles and aunts who helped settle this region in the early 1900s. Their stories of what life was like back then serve as an inspiration for me in a lot of what I do around here. The adventurous spirit of people who live in the Kootenays can be traced back to those early days.
Name three of your favourite places to mountain bike around the Kootenays and why.
Retallack is at the top of the list. The trails are so good, so buff, so fun, I just can’t get enough. Mountain Station, just behind my house is one of the most underrated trail networks in North America, in my opinion. And Rossland. Wow, can’t say enough about that town and what they’ve done.
What’s your advice for kids who are interested in filmmaking?
It’s one thing to go out and focus on imagery and subjects, getting the “shot” so to speak. Of course you need to be able to do that. It’s quite another, however, when you can tie everything together with a story. It retains much more power. Stories are everything. This whole idea started with the story you see in the video — the link between the miners of the late 1800s and the trail builders of today. Everything hung off of that intent. And when you have a great story driving the project, well, good things tend to happen.