Dan Foley and the Art of Self-Filming

While most riders look at the act of self-filming as a last resort, Dan Foley has made it into an art form. Watch some of his favorite self-filmed pieces from throughout the past decade and dive into his ever-evolving thought process.


Did you purposefully start filming yourself or was it a byproduct of not having anyone around to hold the camera?

It was a little of both. I'd shoot stuff with my friends growing up and we'd kinda hand the camera off, but there would be times I'd end up riding by myself and have the camera with me. At first it was just a thing I'd set up to see my own progress with tricks. I'd want to see if I was getting tricks like inverts and turndowns pushed as far as I wanted them. That slowly snowballed into self-filming more and more as I realized I really enjoyed the process.

At this point, do you prefer self-filming or working with a filmer?

It all depends. Both have their pros and cons. I'll have days where I just want to go out on my own and spend time alone, so I prefer self-filming on days like that. But then there are times - like being on a Cult trip - when you're surrounded by some of your favorite people and riders and the energy is there. Veesh is such a good person to shoot with, too.

They're two totally different experiences that each have their own place.

Were there any self-filmed sections or clips that inspired you early on in your path?

I would see Mike Mastroni's self-filmed stuff and was a huge fan of it. We had similar taste in riding and music at the time, so his videos and the vibes they had would resonate with me.

Jonah Lindberg’s section in Drop The Hammer stands out to me. Does that section mean anything to you?

That was a really rad section! At the time, I don't think I fully understood everything he put into that. I don't remember specifically watching that and thinking, "I've got to try doing an all self-filmed part," but I also definitely thought back to it and took inspiration from it when I got deep enough into self-filming to want to put together something myself. It proved it was possible to do while keeping it interesting and well-rounded.


What’s your favorite self-filmed video of your BMX career?

Probably my most current one I did for Cult or the first full selfie part I did for Premium years back. I'd say the most current one because, with every video I do, I feel like I learn a little bit more about the process. I love that it shows my most recent culmination of all of it. The older Premium part is a personal favorite because I did it as an experiment and it worked out to the point where I'm still making them - haha. That Wild Nothing song is still a favorite, too.

Do you find difficulty making self-filmed pieces unique? 

For sure. Self-filming definitely has its limitations, so it's always a challenge working around them and figuring out how to make an entire piece into something that isn't too static and that feels too similar to past pieces. The challenge is half the fun, though, and forces you to think a little harder, which I love.

For most of these videos, are you riding solo or just not letting anyone else touch the camera?

It's a balance of both. It all depends on the day and what's going on. I'd say probably a little more often I'm riding solo. I'll just leave the house with a spot or two in mind and kinda keep it loose and flexible by not dragging anyone else along. Other days, it'll just be a regular day out riding with a person or two and I'll end up trying something. Other times I'll be out solo and people will come meet up at some point. It varies. 

Shout out to everyone who's ever offered to film, too. I swear I'll let people touch the camera haha. A lot of times I just genuinely want to shoot it myself, though.

What’s the gnarliest thing you’ve ever filmed while out solo?

Most of the stuff I do isn't too gnarly, but one that does come to mind is a wallride 180 I shot for my Welcome to Madera video a few years back. It's down this perfect double set and I had been sweating it for a while. I was actually on the way home from a session somewhere else and figured I'd just stop by and have a look, but then the ball was rolling and I couldn't just leave. It luckily worked out first go and I didn't cut the rollback out of the shot.


Ever have any interesting run-ins with security or police with a camera set up somewhere?

It's usually pretty mellow because, when it's just you, no one really knows what to think. It's not as obvious as having a whole crew at a spot or anything. I did have an instance where I was riding a spot behind a building and a cop rolled back. I thought for sure I was getting kicked out, but he kind of just said hi and started driving away. As he was turning around to leave, he kept getting closer and closer to my phone I had just bought the day before, which I had set up on a tripod on the ground. I yelled, trying to get his attention, but he didn't hear me and came probably within an inch of running over my phone sitting in it's little tripod - hahaha. I guess that's the gamble with leaving your camera or phone as a sitting duck.

What’s your current camera set up? Do you use anything different when you’re filming yourself?

I mostly use a Panasonic GH5 at the moment. Aside from adding a tripod to the mix, I don't do anything different. Every now and then, I'll use my older GH2 as a second angle, though.

Ever forget to press record?

I'm sure it's happened, but not in recent memory. I've gotten into a pretty good habit due to a glitch my camera has where it stops recording immediately after I hit record. I'll usually make sure the seconds go past two or three before I ride away from the camera to make sure it's actually rolling. That's a pretty fool-proof way to avoid forgetting to hit record altogether.

What was the first video you made that was fully your own - self-filmed, you made the song, etc?

I'm pretty sure it was the little video I did for Vital riding the outdoor remains of Fusion skatepark in Greenville.


Were you ever passionate about making music or was that just a way to get around really bad cleared songs?

I'm passionate about playing drums and I really enjoy messing around with Logic and making random sounds, but I can't say I'm passionate about the whole music making process at the moment. I could see that developing if I put a little more time into it, but I'd have to say right now it's a combination of it being a hobby and a way around the ominous cleared music library vortex. 

Have you made any music lately?

Nothing more than short little loops. I try to play my drums for a little bit most days, though.

Any future self-filmed projects in the works?

Nothing currently, but I'm starting to get the itch to dive back into something.

Any projects with someone else behind the lens in the works?

Not at the moment. Can't sit still too long though!


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