After a successful trip inside his own imagination, Danny MacAskill is back in the real world.
MacAskill, the 28-year-old Scottish BMX rider who brought his colorful mind to life in the wildly popular short film "Imaginate," is ready to release his latest YouTube offering. And if his previous two projects are any indication, this one -- titled "Epecuén" -- is sure to go viral once it launches Tuesday. (Update: See below or click here to watch Epecuén.)
This time, MacAskill explores the deserted Argentine city of Epecuén, which was submerged under water for the majority of the past 25 years. A series of flash floods in 1985 forced residents to leave the town, which was once a popular tourist destination. Since then, it’s been dubbed 'the real life Atlantis.'
Two years ago MacAskill was scrolling through blogs of abandoned cities and happened to see Epecuén. "I was blown away by the images," MacAskill tells ThePostGame. One day, he thought, he wanted to make a film there.
That film is Epecuen, which took MacAskill and his longtime director Dave Sowerby two-and-a-half weeks to film. MacAskill traveled to Argentina with six friends, and for three days they surveyed the destruction by foot. They also bumped into 83-year-old Pablo Novak, the city's only resident. MacAskill had read about Novak and longed to get him involved, but he wasn’t sure if Novak would be interested.
As it turns out, the two became fast friends and Novak is featured in the trailer as well as the film. Novak’s rusty bicycle and slow roll are an elegant contrast to MacAskill's eye-popping stunts and tricks.
MacAskill says Novak spends most of his time these days cycling around the town with his dog, drinking mate and “just chilling.”
“He drove a Mad Max-style jeep," MacAskill says. “You couldn’t have made him up."
MacAskill says he and the crew tried to leave the city as intact as possible, and the only alterations they made were to strengthen buildings so they didn't collapse when he rode on them. Throughout the film MacAskill is a tour guide of sorts, leading the viewer around, above and through the deserted village.
He stresses that the film was done with as much respect as possible for the town and its former inhabitants, none of whom died during the flood.
The genius of MacAskill's work is that he makes his projects relatable. Whether he’s riding across a stray beam in an abandoned South American city or traversing the rolling hills of Scotland, he earns the viewer’s empathy.
"My riding is fairly simple," MacAskill says. "If I'm balancing on a beam or a spiky fence or a wire or a train track, people can relate to that. Whereas if you're doing something switch-footed opposite direction, then it’s much harder for the general public to relate to it."
While anyone can watch endless hours of X Games highlights and stunt riding on YouTube, MacAskill separates himself with artistic shots and beautiful scenes. And his riding is world class -- "simple" for MacAskill translates to "impossible" for the rest of us.
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