I made this video to celebrate two years of training parkour.
My initial concept was to create and film lines especially for this video. So much of my training is doing hard challenges and drills. I wanted a reason to create lines that catered to my strengths, made me look and feel good, and to showcase my favorite Seattle locations.
YouTube blocked this video due to its audio content. Click here to watch it on Facebook.
I chose the song last fall. It’s not the type of music I would generally associate with parkour, so it felt a little risky. But I liked the driving beat and the way the tension builds and releases over the song. I liked the feminine voice and the lyrics. I liked that it was unusual. It didn’t need to be my favorite song, it needed to help me say something.
My goal was to create lines that worked well with the music. As a dancer and musician, I can’t help but listen closely to music. As a viewer, I evaluate a video as a whole, music and movement working together as an integrated work of art. It matters to me.
So often I see parkour videos with music as wallpaper, just an add-on afterward. Something the creator enjoys listening to, maybe. I was once asked to make a promo video of myself for a parkour event. The organizer asked me to add music—didn’t matter what music, just add music because it’ll get more views. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. I just wanted to do something different.
So that was the idea. I started in October. By the end of the fall, I’d filmed only about a third of the video. My partner Paul filmed a bunch of the lines using my gimbal. Neither of us are professionals, so each line took a long time to film. I’d take maybe 45 minutes to warm up and choreograph a line. Then I worked on it while he practiced filming. I’d have a great run, but the video didn’t turn out. He’d film perfectly, but I’d screw up the run. Sometimes we finished a line quickly, but more often the process took much longer, up to two hours some days.
We argued a lot. I’d like to think this helped us sort out some underlying problems in our partnership. But it certainly made things take longer. I wanted a fast, clean line, and he wanted to live up to my vision of creating a video that looked as dynamic as parkour feels when you’re doing it. That’s hard to achieve when you’re not a professional.
Then I injured my right foot badly in February. I’d wanted to release the video at the end of May, to coincide with the two-year mark. May passed, and my foot was still not back to normal. I realized I needed to scale back my vision. The jumps, ascents, and descents I wanted to do were not possible. Working within my ability, I ended up with a lot of low-impact flow lines.
As I started to edit the video, I felt bored watching myself do the same types of movement over and over. It didn’t go with the music the way I’d planned since I couldn’t do some of the dynamic movements I’d envisioned. I toyed with changing the music to something chill. Maybe including a bunch of fails and bails, more b-roll. Shortening it.
Summer hit, and my schedule became chaotic. Progress slowed to a minimum. Time dragged on so much, my foot gradually healed enough to do power movements again. And now another problem—some of my skills had regressed while others had miraculously improved. The injury had changed my practice. Still, I could not quite achieve the vision I had laid out for myself months earlier.
In the end, I ran out of time. I decided to include non-gimbal footage, unfinished and not-yet-perfected lines, and work not filmed specifically for this video or filmed outside Seattle. I didn’t use some of my favorite locations, and that makes me sad from an artistic perspective. With my foot being hit-or-miss, I had a lot of great training days where nothing was filmed.
This process represents the truth about training parkour, that the obstacles you face aren’t always of your choosing. Creating a big project requires you to accept and adapt to those surprises. I would never have released it if I let shame and disappointment dictate my decisions.
It’s three months late and took almost a year to finish. I didn’t achieve quite was I was going for, but I achieved far more than I would have otherwise, so I count it as a success.
Thanks to Paul for his incredibly patient gimbal work. Other videographers include Juliette Marzio, Bryan Riggins, Cordelia Storm, Sofi, and Dustin. Special shoutout to Cory, Sofi, and Juliette for supporting my training.