Why isn't Supertramps Thailand Free?
If you haven't been living under a rock, you probably noticed that Storror just released their feature length film: Storror - Supertramps Thailand as a pay-to-view video on Vimeo. While the community's response has been largely positive, there is still a surprising number of people who don't seem to understand why they should have to pay to see a parkour video, so hopefully this post will help put things into perspective.
Let's start with something blatantly obvious: you aren't entitled to watch a 70 minute film that took 6 months to produce for free. That's common sense and extends beyond parkour. This is all anyone should have to say in defense of paying for Storror - Supertramps Thailand, but that's just obvious surface level shit. It goes a lot deeper than that.
What does it require financially to make a film of this magnitude?
After a quick search, the cheapest flight I could find using a few different dates, from London to Thailand was around $700. Add $300 for food and other travel expenses per person which is a blatant underestimate, and that's $1000 per person (or $7,000 total). Now let's add in camera equipment. Between the drone, the a7s and whatever lenses they have, that's easily $4,000 in equipment. So, just based on these obvious expenses alone, when you expect to receive this film for free, you are asking Storror to take a $11,000 loss just to entertain you and again, that's an underestimate.
These are just the obvious expenses. Do you value your time? If you took a job at a restaurant bussing tables and did 100 hours of work one month and they didn't pay you for any of those hours, you probably wouldn't be too happy. Why then, do you expect Sacha and Toby to spend well over 100 hours editing for free? Because they like doing it? First of all, if you think sorting through hundreds of thousands of gigabytes of footage and editing it down into a coherent story is always fun, then you're definitely wrong. Have you ever tried to color correct a shot that was slightly overexposed? Have you color corrected and graded an entire feature-length film? It's tedious fucking work and it requires a very refined skill-set to do well: a skill-set that takes a lot longer to become proficient at than bussing tables... And even if they do enjoy the process 100% of the time, they are still providing a service and it isn't unreasonable to seek out ways to be compensated for it.
But this doesn't even take into account the years of free content that we have all received from Storror, which costed them many more thousands of dollars in travel expenses, thousands of hours of filming and editing and sometimes at the sacrifice of their health. Check out this article from Drew Taylor addressing his budget for Chaps on Tour USA. Here you have some of the top athletes in parkour trying to perform at an elite level, fueled by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and skipping meals, while trying to make videos for your entertainment. Part of that is a lifestyle choice (which you will hear about in the documentary) and they value the experience of living modestly, but they shouldn't have to starve when they are providing such cool content.
I think the origin of most of the complaints I've been hearing is simply due to a very narrow view of the situation.... Someone looks at the checkout screen and says, "I have to pay for this intangible product that holds no physical value?" This question obviously neglects everything I said above, but it also misses an even more important point. In terms of the big picture, the financial value of the product itself is just one piece. Supporting a grassroots parkour company is impactful in the longterm for a number of reasons and we certainly shouldn't be labeling these companies as sellouts. Serg Abramenkov put it nicely...
Instead of pushing the notion that there shouldn't be money in parkour, which simply isn't feasible, ask yourself, "where are the best areas to put my money that will keep the future of parkour in the hands of people that actually care about it?" We have the opportunity to create a culture that sustains itself internally, but if every time we see a new clothing line that supports athletes or a pay-to-view video come out and we scoff at the idea instead of showing our support, we are indirectly telling those athletes they should provide their expertise to external companies that don't always hold parkour's best intentions at heart. Whether that's a competition sponsored by an energy drink company or a commercial for a company that contributes to deforestation, etc. External companies aren't always bad, but they certainly don't understand parkour or care about its future. Athletes are going to find ways to make money from their passion. The question is, do you want that take the form of long, well thought out videos/documentaries, grassroots events, apparel, gyms, parks, etc.? Or would you rather see the future of parkour in the hands of companies that don't understand what we do and want to exploit it?
This topic deserves an entirely different post, but essentially, the more we support parkour internally, the less we are dependent on external companies. Imagine that instead of the biggest competitions, events and tours being sponsored by energy drinks, gambling, credit cards and alcohol, these events were sponsored by parkour companies: Storror, MYRM, Apex Movement, Storm. Imagine if these companies could sponsor you as an athlete and pay for you to just make videos, blog posts, etc. These things are possible if we foster a culture that supports parkour internally. The next time you find yourself complaining about a shitty sponsor or an event that misrepresents parkour, instead of bitching about it, open a new tab, take out your wallet and buy a shirt from a parkour company that you like. Purchase a pay-to-view parkour video. Invest in a parkour gym owned by someone who has done parkour for over a decade. The more support we give to parkour companies that care about the future of parkour (grass roots gyms, parkour media companies, parkour apparel, paid parkour events/jams, etc.) the less we will have to rely on companies that don't care.
And when it's all said and done, if you paid for something that didn't meet your expectations, then come out and say it or just don't buy from that company again. Support the companies that deliver what you want and uphold values that you align with. Did you buy a parkour shirt and the logo faded after one wash? Did you pay money for a team to do a tour and they chose a alcohol company as one of their sponsors? Was the pay-to-view video you purchased not very good or didn't promote a message you align with? Speak your mind and if the company doesn't make the change you want to see, vote with your dollar elsewhere and support a parkour company that aligns with your where you want to see parkour headed.
Ultimately, we should be more than happy to pay for things that provide value, but it goes beyond that. Our support of these things has the potential to foster a community that can support itself internally. That being said, show Storror some support by purchasing Supertramps Thailand. The film is fantastic!
And of course, here's a shameless plug for our upcoming documentary, which is donation-based. You can read more about it HERE and donate whatever the concept is worth to you. The edit is under way now and it goes without saying that our support of Storror's documentary comes from direct experience with how much money and work it takes to create films of this scale.
Post by: Dylan Baker