“How can we top XP1K? How do we go bigger, better, faster, and sketchier… without destroying these cars or hurting RJ?” That’s how the conversation began last fall when everyone here at Mad Media and UTVUnderground began planning the 2015 production year. Having racked up about a million views online at the time – Polaris and our other partners on XP1K were anxious to talk about a follow up for 2014. We had several ideas for new locations – but ultimately the conversation keep getting steered towards the stunts. What were we going to throw at RJ that would challenge him and our Holz Racing custom built RZR XP1000’s? We started doing a ton of research on different locations, and different kinds of terrain. What we kept coming back to – what we found compelling – were all the downhill mountain bike videos we were finding that involved dirt, gravel, and ladder rail. So we finished a pretty extensive list of stunt ideas, collected up all our reference materials, and set about trying to find the perfect location for XP1K2.
We’ve been very fortunate to travel all over the world to produce our work. We are always looking for that epic spot – a backdrop for our athletes and cars to traverse through. The location for XP1K2 was by far the fastest and easiest find in our twenty year history! No seriously, we called Mark Holz and he said, “I’ve got the spot, Janicki Industries.” Mark runs Holz Racing Products, and built the cars for XP1K. He rebuilt and prepped them for XP1K2, and just happens to run his business out of Bellingham, Washington… a mere 30 minutes from the massive, private tree farm that Janicki Industries owns in Deming. After a few site visits it was pretty clear we had found the spot. Not only were there a bunch of existing logging roads, but the Janicki’s were willing to let us carve out connecting trails, cut lumber for custom UTV ladder trail obstacles, and move as much dirt around as we wanted. (Side note – these guys have sustainably harvested trees since their family homesteaded their property way way back. We paid careful attention to the existing environmental rules up in the area – and replanted and restored the property after we finished filming.)
If you’ve seen XP1K than you probably marveled at the location we used for that video. The post apocalyptic setting was a few hours past Palm Springs – an old abandoned Iron Mine called Kaiser Eagle Mountain. To prep that location our friends at the Off-Road Management Group – Tony Vanillo and his crew – moved a ton of metal, cement, and dirt to shape us a course. We put Tony to task on XP1K2 in a similar way. We walked him through each stunt and the spots we wanted them to be built at – and together with a crew of amazing heavy equipment operators – Patrick Janicki, “Lil” Tony Vanillo, Doug Van De Grift, and Chris Turner – the boys went to town and in three weeks had the entire collection built. The “Wall of Death” at the end of XP1K2 was particularly challenging as the guys cut and milled all the wood, shaped and welded all the metal supports, counter sunk a massive cement block anchor, and then bolted everything together. At the end of the day it came down to testing. And for that we tapped ATV champion and UTV ringer Nick Nelson.
We shot XP1K2 one stunt at a time – piece by piece, with careful attention to time of day, clouds versus sun, and direction of the car (left to right or right to left). We shot “out of sequence”, which just means we shot the easier stuff early in the week and the super risky stuff later in the week. The goal was not to damage the cars until we absolutely had to. We shot the world record jump and the wall of death on the last day just in case. RJ nailed the world record jump on his 3rd attempt. Meaning he landed a jump at 130 and then 150 – each time we moved the take off ramp back 30 feet. The gap was GNARLY in person. Tree stumps and mud everywhere. Mark my words this kid will hit 200 feet sometime next year. We could have kept going but if you watch the landing you’ll see he was drifting to the left a little. Matt and I made the call to move on. After a few practice runs he nailed the “thread the needle” and “rock wall ride” in one take. His first take on the “crescent gap jump” was so gnarly we actually blew the shot! We had no idea he would jump so high! He nailed the 50-50 river gap grind three times in a row. On his third run the logs became unsettled and he started sliding down towards the water on the driver’s side. The RC heli shot in the video was his first take and the only 60 seconds that entire day when it wasn’t pouring rain. It was a miracle we got that shot without water on the lens of the camera. We hemmed and hawed for a long time about the safety of jumping the log semi. We actually set two semi trailers in the gap and had Nick and then RJ hit it that way first, to make sure they were jumping high enough to safely clear the fourteen feet we needed. RJ then nailed it perfectly on the first take…hence the expression “one and done!”.
The wall of death was by far one of the gnarliest stunts we’ve ever seen attempted…in any vehicle. Nick and RJ both practiced with the stock XP1000. After hours of dizzying loops we realized it came down to POWER. Enter the XP1K2 race cars with Muzzy’s engine tuning… Without the Muzzy’s power, Walker Evans shocks, Holz Racing built arms and RZR backbone – not to mention RJ’s skill as a driver – we would have never pulled it off.
A lot of people have asked us what we shot on – what tools we used. We’ve been RED camera owners for years now and love them. So we employed six Red Dragon’s on the shoot. We used about 20 or so GoPro Hero 3’s (4’s weren’t shipping yet) as well as Canon 5DMKIII’s for a few shots. The rad eyeball shot was produced by our Director of Still Photography Vincent Knakal on a Sony A6000 rigged to a custom helmet. Vince and Ernesto Arazia captured all of the insane still images from the project as well. We had the Copter Kids on board for RC heli, Young and Aines rigged up all the cable cam shots, and Doug Edge from Storms Audio sprinted from camera to camera between takes and made sure we had immaculate Muzzy’s engine / environmental audio to work with. Sherri Miranda was our expert “DIT” and somehow managed to keep track of six terabytes worth of footage! We edited the project in Adobe Premiere CC14 and tapped Bradley Lindseth to create the epic 3D animated XP1K2 logo reveal, as well as Cedrick Courtois to mix the audio. The music in the clip was provided by Extreme Music and Selectracks and was sourced by our (guru) Music Supervisor Jennifer Bowder. If you’re thinking “Man this sounds like a full blown Hollywood film crew !” you are correct. Every one of the specialists on XP1K2 played a part in its success. As did the camera assistants, production assistants, the catering folks, hell even the guy who delivered the port-o-potties was a hero! At Mad Media we like to say “12 hours is a half day!”. Everyone involved in XP1K2 worked their asses off, and Matt and I couldn’t be more grateful for that effort.
So what’s next? Well let’s see… we shot XP1K during a record heat wave that reached 127 degrees, got attacked by swarms of bees, and had to avoid falling into mine shafts. For XP1K2 we dealt with fog, rain, mosquitoes, stinging nettle, slushy mud, dust, flying rocks and wood chips, AND freezing morning temperatures. My vote personally is Hawaii! We don’t want to give anything away but I will say this – the folks at Polaris have a long list of ideas from us and are chomping at the bit to get us back out there filming again with RJ. We’re just getting started. Thank you guys for your support, and please keep sharing these videos for us. The more views we rack up the more fun we can keep having. And remember – please, no seriously PLEASE, do NOT try to do this stuff at home in your RZR. RJ makes it look easy but keep in mind we had a full paramedic crew and helicopter on standby. Nick and RJ have a combined 20 years of racing experience. Throttle down, but throttle SAFE.
Special thanks to Joshua Martelli from Mad Media and UTVUnderground.com for providing us with this behind the scene look into the making of “XP1K2”, visit www.xp1K2.com to view the full video, teaser, and official trailer, as well as extensive photo galleries.