Last Friday marked the release of Hazel, the parkour short-film by Ethan Rud and Noah Heath. Composed of Ethan’s personal brand of parkour that balances the most buttery of smooth transitions and flow, with deceptively explosive power, and an unrivaled knack for ingenious spot utilization; combined with Noah’s brilliant eye for capturing movement and art-forward editing style, this video is gripping, surprising, and leaves a lasting impression. Shortly after the release of the video and the associated clothing drop, Ethan and I sat down to discuss Hazel in depth.
Me: When did you start and finish filming for the piece?
Ethan: We started right after I got home from England, after filming S.O.L; Kelan wanted all of us to get more clips since the film wasn’t super movement heavy. I guess I was the only person who got extra clips, so they weren’t going to get used after all and I didn’t want to just throw them away. That was July 2021, and on May 8, 2022 I got the ender.
Me: What was your initial vision for the video, and was the finished product similar or different from that vision?
Ethan: The finished product was a lot different. We were planning for it to have a more upbeat vibe, and more punk music to reflect that. We didn’t know at the time that we were going to continue to film through the winter. The winters here in Minneapolis get really depressing. The whole vibe changed after the long winter, and I also got into different music. Originally though, it was meant to be a more upbeat, movement based video.
Me: It did turn out kind of heavy, that’s for sure. What were your most difficult challenges mentally vs. physically?
Ethan: Definitely the flyaway precision clip that I never got. I think it was the second to last clip in the video, and there’s a bunch of attempts in the rough cut. It was the hardest. That was a mental battle too, we went back to that spot on three different days. It was in LA, it was really hot, and we’re just not used to that. I tried it well over 50 times just in that final session, and after three days of that, my hands were completely shredded from the bark. I had ripped kind of early on and just kept pushing through, and so the bark kept digging in. That was the most physically demanding challenge, and I want to go back and really get it. The most mental challenge was either the ender, or the roll line that I did on a thin beam. The roll was super hard to commit to, because the roll had to travel to the right a little bit, and there was also a twelve foot drop or something if I missed my landing. The reason those were scary was because I couldn’t visualize myself doing these things. They were just full sends. I’m not a fan of doing things that aren’t clear to me, that I know I can do. It’s good for me to push myself, but it’s really scary.
Me: That flyaway precision is absolutely gross.
Ethan: The hardest part was the connection into the flyaway. The flyaway precision on its own was pretty easy. The swing to the tree, and then jumping straight into the flyway without an extra swing was really hard.
Me: You did a bunch of reps of that line in the rough cut, with the extra swing before the flyway, right?
Ethan: Yeah, but the only one that connected without that one that I fell on. I’m gonna have to go back and get that one.
Me: One of the things that I love about the video is the number of street characters you featured. Who was the most memorable to you and why?
Ethan: I think probably the kid at the beginning of the video. He was so interested in what we were doing, and he wanted to learn parkour after seeing us, which is just the best feeling ever. While I was doing that challenge he would run alongside me. He was a super cute kid.
Me: What was with that guy brandishing his knuckle duster?
Ethan: Haha I don’t know. That spot is right near a homeless encampment, so there are always interesting characters that you’ll meet over there. That dude was talking about how he had to use them that morning, and he said that he only uses them for protection. But he was really funny, and also super interested in what we were doing. He thought it was cool. He wanted me to hit the challenge before he got on his bus and it honestly motivated me to do it.
Me: The film was dedicated to someone important to you, Dan Larson-Fine. Can you tell me a little about him and his impact on you and your community?
Ethan: Daniel was my coach, he taught me everything. He taught me parkour, how to control my body, and how to analyze my own movement. He really wanted to make sure that I learned control, connection, and flow before doing flips or anything. I was his movement child, I guess. He’d take me out training, show me spots and that would help me form the way that I look at spots today. He was someone who changed people’s perspective, and he was the most intelligent person I knew. My movement wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t met him, and everything in the video is a tribute to him, and I thought a lot about that while I was working on these challenges. He was my movement-father. Ever since he passed, I’ve wanted to make something that I would be proud to put his name on, and I’m glad I did. He had a bunch of things he wanted to take me to see and do before he passed, and we never got the chance, so I wanted to make sure I made something good.
Me: The video feels like a melancholy yet rose-tinted friendship appreciation video. You featured a bunch of other people, but specifically their relationships and interactions, not their movement except for one line from Hudson. Was it a conscious choice to make a personal video part that’s almost more about your friends?
Ethan: Yeah, originally I wanted to have a whole section dedicated to my friends. I wanted to include everyone because I just love all of my friends so much. Life wouldn’t be the same without them, gotta include my friends. My friends care about me so much, we all support each other, and I want them to be a part of everything that I do.
Me: How did you come to decide to have a clothing release alongside the video, and how difficult was that process?
Ethan: Well we weren’t originally going to sell the video, we were just doing the clothing. I’ve always wanted to do clothing and graphic design, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to connect the video to something tangible like that. I also wanted to make sure that Noah got the support that he deserved from the video, which ultimately led to us deciding to sell the video itself. We had a lot of friends urging us to sell it as well. It was tough because I didn’t have an idea for the designs until after the video was done, and that took me almost two months. I had a bunch of different ideas and I’m really indecisive hahaha. This is my first time doing graphic designs, I’m still learning and I want to get better at it. I also want to start learning how to design cuts of clothing.
Me: Do you hope that more athletes will take after you and make shorter video parts for purchase?
Ethan: I hope so, because I feel like we’re the first people to sell a video that’s below the “longform time-limit,” and I don’t understand why. In my opinion, more people should put out paid productions that aren’t these long-term film projects with tons of people. Especially with parkour, it’s not like you can sell anything beyond a video or clothing, so I’d love to support anyone who makes a video that they believe is worth money for the effort that they put into it. If someone thinks that their video is good enough to be sold, then they should definitely try. Also, Giles is sick for giving us a platform to sell our work, and I’m sure he’d be interested in doing the same for other people.
Me: That would be really sick if Motus became a host to regular video releases like these. What do you think of the massive praise your video has received from the greater parkour community?
Ethan: Noah and I are so thankful for the community. I’m super happy, and I hope people are inspired to make videos where they put more focus into filming and the aspects around the movement. I’m so grateful to be part of such a supportive community.
These opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of anyone at The Motus Projects.
At face value, Hazel is an excellent parkour video exemplifying a broad spectrum of technical movements from different disciplines stitched into both interesting architecture, and the unassuming rail and curb. However, in my opinion, this video is best looked at from beyond the boundary of a standard parkour video, and deserves analysis. The whole video is dedicated to Daniel Larson-Fine, close friend and coach of Ethan Rud. The effect of Daniel’s passing was notably etched in the somber tone of the piece, but was lightened by the warm charm of Ethan and his friends. Not performing parkour, but interacting with one another with genuine love, affection, and appreciation, as well as the ruffian nonsense that has become a staple to parkour families. The juxtaposition of these moments of real happiness and the recognition of loss, lends itself to Ethan’s movements and adds the backdrop of Ethan’s parkour, which is his support system, that is to say his friends and family who helped him discover the movement artist that he is today. The choice to include a slew of interesting street people expands that backdrop, in which many of these characters are not only interested in what he’s doing, but are outright supportive and have even become a motivating factor for Ethan’s success.
The filming and editing direction of Noah Heath is always something to behold, but in this case the edit served to elevate the theme of friendship and loss and brought a welcome level of angst without making the whole video feel like an album from The Smiths. It managed to gently pluck heartstrings rather than tugging heavy-handedly, and left Ethan’s movement to speak for itself. The music choices they made towed the line between illuminating the sheer ridiculous scope and scale of Ethan’s skills and aiding the edited and animated visuals of Noah and Niko Selsky in delivering the emotional experience of the project.
Finally, the nature of the for-sale video part. Excuse me for the upcoming rant. Like many great sports before us, the selling of video parts is a common method of drumming up support that has a more tangible effect on the athletes, artists, etc. that put together these pieces. Whether that money is substantial or not doesn’t fucking matter, what matters is that the community stands behind one another in a show of solidarity. Anyone who makes a video part that they believe is worth selling, deserves to do so without reservation. I was recently told that we all feel like we are owed something from parkour. Be it vocal or monetary support from the community on our own projects, more interesting movement on the part of other athletes, free content from those who put their personal time, bodies, and money on the line to deliver that content, or what have you. Parkour owes no one anything. We owe it to each other to give people in our community opportunities to succeed. The parkour community as a contributive whole will have countless chances to show that we have the same capability to support one another as Ethan’s friends do for him; if in the process we accidentally develop a culture of artistic depth and respect for those putting effort into their craft, then all the better. But I digress.
I’ve said it once before, and I’ll publish it here now. Hazel is my favorite video this year and has cemented itself among my favorites of all time. Thanks to my privilege at Motus, I was privy to seeing this film well before its release, and I still purchased it within moments of dropping, because it’s just that fucking good. If there are any reservations about biting the ￡4.50 bullet, rest assured that this video is worth far more. Purchase Hazel at your earliest convenience and enjoy.