Introducing Kriss Kyle's Kaleidoscope: The Must See BMX Feature... Filmed in a Moving Skate Park
This could be the BMX answer to Danny MacAskill's 'Imaginate'... and then some
It’s not every day that someone hands you a blank canvas, unlimited resources and tells you to set about working on your dream project.
So, if it happened to you, what would you do? It’s a tough question. Tougher than you’d think. But luckily for you, we know the answer. You’d go absolutely mad.
If you were given the opportunity to turn your dreams into a reality, we can almost guarantee that you would go bonkers. See, most people are mad in one way or another anyway. All the best ideas start as impossible thoughts that risk being laughed at when they roll off the tongue.
That could have been the case when Red Bull gave Scottish BMX star Kriss Kyle the freedom and resources to go and build his dream set up earlier this year.
Kriss thought up a project that had never been done before in the world of BMX; a project that didn’t seem remotely plausible until all of a sudden, it was already done.
He had an idea that sounded surreal when said out loud, looked wild when written down and felt even crazier when it eventually came to life – to build and ride a moving skate park. Yes, you read that right. A skate park that moved.
An ongoing project since the early months of 2015, 'Kaleidoscope' is the biggest release yet from Kriss Kyle, one of the most creative and effortlessly astounding riders on the scene.
The five-minute film shows Kriss messing with visual expectations on bewildering optical illusions, riding around features that are constantly changing and producing a range of outrageous tricks.
For Kriss, the experience of making the feature was just as surreal as the stunning final result.
“I pretty much got to design and build my dream," he said, speaking to Mpora in the run up to the release. “It was stuff that I’ve always dreamed about doing that I thought I would never ride. You would never find this stuff on the street or in a skate park.
“When Red Bull come to you and give you a blank canvas to do exactly what you want to do, it’s the hardest question in the world.
"What the fuck do I want?! When you can design and build anything, how do you decide what to do? That was one of the hardest things about it."
While Kriss eventually did put together an idea of what he wanted, there would be a lot of adjustments before his scribbling on paper would start to appear before his eyes.
When that big day did come though, it was enough to take the rider’s breath away.
"I look up to Danny MacAskill a lot. If people are going to compare this to ‘Imaginate’, I’m absolutely fine with that!"
He continued: “It was actually a totally different concept at the start. Originally it was going to be a room that revolved and we were going to build ramps in it, but we didn’t have a room big enough and it was pretty much impossible to ride.
“There were times when I was going to a lot of meetings but it seemed like it was never actually going to happen, but I remember one day coming back from a trip and all these ramps had been built and I was in the warehouse all of a sudden.
“It totally blew me away; walking in there and seeing all of the things that I had drawn up. We had made a little replica model of everything and it was honestly as if you had been shrunk down to size and were walking around in the model. It was insane."
If the work behind-the-scenes was strenuous on the mind, the work on the bike and in front of the camera was even tougher on the body for the Scottish 23-year-old.
You can dream up the most unique, creative features and settings in the world, but if you can’t produce the moves to get eyeballs staring, you’re going to be left shorthanded. And this wasn’t exactly a regular BMX shoot.
Normally when Kriss films his work, the crew would be made up of himself and one or two filmers at most. This time the crew was huge, the stakes were high and the pressure was on.
If anyone in BMX has a trick bag big enough to fit the occasion of course, it’s Mr. Kyle, and he brought some of the best riding of his career to the project.
“After it was all over and done I felt about 95 years old," he admits, with an air of lingering relief. “I’ve never rode that hard in my life. Never experienced anything like it before.
“I was actually a little surprised about one of the tricks that took the longest; the double peg grind to flair. I thought it would be hard but I was confident I could do it and it wouldn’t take too long.
“I was going full speed at the rail, trying to get my balance and then trying to flip off the end of the rail, and the next feature was moving towards me. I tried that for two hours on the first day of filming. It was over 100 tries and I got it once, but not the way that I wanted it.
“That next morning I came in and got back at it. I ended up landing it within about 20 or 30 attempts and the relief was unreal. My body was ruined."
Kriss continued: “I remember some of the things in that warehouse were so scary. One day I went in and the team said: ‘right, you’re doing the spiral curved wall-ride today’. It was 14ft high and this was nine in the morning. No warm ups. No nothing.
“I had practised onto the mats before, but even on the mats I was absolutely ruining myself. If you fall off on that thing you can’t get away from your bike. The G-force just rips you round it. Your bike is either right behind you or you fly off it.
“I remember being up there and thinking ‘fuck it’. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so suck it up and thankfully it worked out. I landed it first go. The feeling I got after landing some of the tricks was just unbelievable."
As is the case for so many of the top athletes in BMX and beyond, it’s the fear of the challenge that provides the drive for Kriss.
Kriss has called Unit 23 skate park in Dumbarton a second home for most of his life, and he’s barely spent a day off two wheels in the past 10 years. Pushing boundaries in the sport he loves is just another part of the day job for the rider.
He’s not fearless, but he has learned how to channel his fear to benefit his riding; to go harder, reach higher and raise the stakes everytime he goes out to ride.
“I’m scared all the time, but I guess that’s why I ride BMX," he admits. “That feeling I get of absolutely scaring myself to death over a trick, and then landing it.
“The feeling that you get is unexplainable, and the pain you put yourself through is worth it when you land something at the end of three hours. You’ve scared yourself so much, your body is absolutely beaten to death, and then you watch it back like ‘fucking yes!’"
The reward is in the end result, in the watching back the footage and seeing the reaction around the world, which for 'Kaleidoscope', will no doubt be mighty.
The feature has already provoked excitement throughout the bike community, and it’s not hard to see why the dreamlike, boldly-coloured concept recalls Danny MacAskill’s ‘Imaginate’ for many.
“I’m scared all the time, but that’s why I ride BMX... scaring myself to death over a trick, and then landing it."
While the riding in each video is incredibly different of course, the comparison to his countryman’s 42-million view YouTube hit is something that Kriss has no problem with at all.
“I look up to Danny a lot," he continues. “I guess it is similar. He got to build whatever he wanted and Red Bull have let me go on and do that as well, just on a BMX. ‘Imaginate’ was unreal and if people are going to compare it to that I’m absolutely fine with that!
“There’s a lot of pressure on me in case it doesn’t do well, because you’ve got all these people who have put in hard work – and I have as well – but at the end of the day, I’m happy with it. It’s what I love to do, it’s been an amazing opportunity and it’d be great if it goes down as well as we’re hoping.
“I feel like I made the best out of it and I’ve still got another thousand ideas in my head, because after the film is done I’m already thinking about what I want to do next.
"It’s always going to be ongoing. You can never be too happy. You always want to do better and one-up yourself."
What’s up next up for Kriss? Well, he’s heading over to Malaga for a spot more recording, travelling to Hastings for a session with Source BMX, and then he’ll be off to San Diego for a couple of weeks, all before or just after the end of the year.
“It’s been so busy recently so it’s great to have a bit of a chill and some down time," the rider notes, as we silently question whether the jet-setting just described fits the definition of ‘down time’.
If 'Kaleidoscope' goes down as well as we expect it to though, Kriss won’t have much more time to relax in the future, either. Though the more you speak to the passionate 23-year-old, the more you realise that he’s rarely at home if he’s not on his bike.
There’s a lot more to come from Kriss Kyle yet, but 'Kaleidoscope' could just be the feature to make him a household name.