PTG: Filmmaking and Parkour Journalism with Maximus Ward

February 16, 2022 24 min read

PTG: Filmmaking and Parkour Journalism with Maximus Ward

This last weekend I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with the visionary himself, Maximus Ward. I’ve always been very interested in Max’s video content, from his video essays and culture-centric pieces, to the massive leaps and vlogs he releases. Max has found a niche for himself in the parkour community through his documentary filmmaking, journalism, and a palpable passion for the sport. Video content may not seem new in the world of parkour, but the awareness that Max brings to parkour culture is anything but run-of-the-mill. He has had the opportunity to speak with some of the most influential athletes and creatives in parkour, and has a well seasoned history of travel to many iconic locations around the world. I was truly excited to speak with Max because, at first glance, what we do is rather similar, despite working in different mediums. We had an in-depth conversation about parkour, journalism, and how those two coincide. Without further ado, here is my interview with Maximus Ward.

The first thing I noticed about Max, as his image lit up on my computer screen, was his zoom background. A lovely topless photo of Klaus from Team Phat was splayed behind him in all its glory. A moment of realization swept over Max, and he quickly removed the background, much to all of our chagrin.

 

Max: Hahaha, sorry I was in a meeting with some parkour dudes and was playing around with some of my thumbnail photos. (He proceeds to cycle through some other backgrounds before settling in on the dimly lit lavender-purple of his actual bedroom/office.)

Me: Well it’s really great to actually meet you man!

Max: Yeah it’s great to meet you too! I remember hearing on the Motus Prodcast that someone came on to do articles and stuff, that's really cool man.

Me: I appreciate it! It’s been wild, I sort of just fell into it to be honest.

Max: Fuck yeah, that’s wicked. People would seriously be surprised, if you just drop someone a message, most times, they’re up for it. No one in the parkour community is like, too big to do an interview for someone’s passion project, you know?

Me: Absolutely. For the most part everyone I’ve reached out to has been really cool and willing to talk. 

Max: Oh totally, the Storror guys took a few weeks to get some time scheduled for my series, and that’s just because they’re busy. I know them personally and they’re super up for talking with just about anyone as well.

Me: So can you tell me a little bit about your parkour background?

Max: Man, taking it back. So I started when I was 14, nine years ago. I started as a BMX kid, and my family moved to France, and the skate park near us was shit. I always had kind of an interest in parkour, always doing bits jumping on and around the house. My mom went out of her way to try and find me a group, and there was a small group of locals training where I was in Clermont-Ferrand. I started training with them, but it was all really basic stuff, really discipline intensive. They actually trained with David Belle when they started. One of the guys I was training with would end up becoming one of the leaders of Parkour Internationale, running the FIG stuff when that started. But I moved again, to Singapore, then back to Australia where I’m from, and then to London and stuff. So it was a bit of a weird beginning. 

Me: That’s crazy that you got to experience a sort of hand-me-down iteration of David Belle’s training style, that’s really cool.

Max: Yeah we’d do hill sprints, go for big runs, a bit of quadrupedal movement and stuff. They put a really huge emphasis on quiet landings. None of them trained flips ever, it was super old school stuff. It gave me a good foundation, but quite frankly it was like four years in parkour before I did anything really mentally challenging because there was no emphasis on that side of parkour. I’ve transitioned to more of a, “I have the skills, let’s fucking send it,” type mentality. It wasn’t that at all in France. When I taught kids at Aapes they’d get to a higher level on their first day then I got in two or three years of training, you know what I mean?

 

Me: I experienced that quite regularly as a coach myself, actually. I very quickly realized that I could teach kids to perform at a much higher level than me.

Max: Legit, like first day backflips and wallflips, that sort of thing. And that was just teaching them between classes because I didn’t teach any flips during the class itself. It's crazy.

Me: At which point did you start really filming yourself regularly? 

Max: That’s a good question. So I didn’t release any video of myself until three or four years into parkour. I made one video, which I’m still really proud of, actually. It was taken down for copyright infringement unfortunately. But after that, I really liked the idea of videos, and realistically that was always the goal, was to make videos. People feel like they need to reach a certain athletic standard before they make videos, which of course isn’t true, but I wanted to make my video a banger for my level at the time. I didn’t make much more until I was about 18 and traveled for the first time. I finished high school, I saved up my money and traveled for four months; I did that two years in a row. So I went to 4TLOM (4 the Love of Movement), Krap, and all of those. I was trying to film a lot, and I have some edits from those years, but I didn’t start putting out really consistent YouTube content until more recently. It was more like the old school thing, save all of your clips and put them into a 3 minute edit. Also, the level I’m at as a filmmaker, athlete, and presenter now is just so much higher than it was then, so the quality is better now anyway.

Me: That feels so important to hit on quality when you’re putting out something that’s just YOU, right? I’ve been a victim of that; I don’t consider myself a good enough athlete that it’s worth putting out a video of any quality. 

Max: But you never regret it, that’s the thing. You never regret putting out a video, and once you have and you’re more aware of the process then it’s really sick. I remember I made a video called SEA Jump Travel, which was basically just a travel edit from all these travels in Southeast Asia with bits of parkour throughout. Then I watched it with my mate who I was traveling with, and it brought back all of the memories in a way that no photo ever could, and I just felt like I'd captured the vibe of our trip. So we could always look back and reminisce and I get goosebumps just watching it. It’s just for us, you know what I mean? It has something like a thousand views on YouTube, but it’s just for us. But that was like, “Alright, I need to make more videos.” Because that was like my third year with lots of traveling, and I felt like, “Fuck, I’ve missed this opportunity previously.”

 

Me: What inspired the addition of parkour and journalism content?

Max: It probably came through like the filmmaking route. I kind of moved to London for parkour, but also studying film, and I did a three year film course here. Now I work here as a freelance filmmaker, mostly corporate stuff. I’ve done a few documentaries throughout that time, I made a feature length documentary which took about a year. It was the most mind-numbing thing ever. Thankfully, during the first wave of Covid I got a lot of editing done. But that, then the “Man like Klaus” one, then my dissertation for university was the Dom video, and the response to that was really good. Then I was like, “Yeah, I want to do more of this.” And then I was just thinking of other formats, other conversations we could have, and ways to create content. Part of that came out of injury, because I was doing parkour vlogs now and then, but only when I really perform at my highest level and when I’m traveling. I have vlogs that I haven’t released because I only make it if I feel it really has something to offer. But I was experimenting with conversations that would be useful to have in the community, and then came across what ended up becoming this most recent series. It was initially going to be about the release of “Enter the Breach” and why it’s so important to see parkour films, and I made it before the whole controversy with the Beans guys and everything. The interviews happened just after that, and I ended up cutting it into these four videos because there was just so much good information. I think I was just experimenting, and I took inspiration from Kieren Owen, aka Jimmy the Giant. He helped me realize that there’s potential here. These kinds of conversations are really valuable to the community, but if you market them in the right way, it can also be appealing to non-parkour audiences as well. And any successful parkour video, in terms of viewership, most of the views are coming from people who don’t do parkour. We take up such a small percentage of the internet. 

Me: Absolutely, yeah naturally. If we can take a step back for a moment, you said you made a feature length documentary, I’ve been looking for it and am struggling. 

Max: Yeah it’s not on my channel! It’s like a year of my work that I did and just gave it to them. There’s a trailer on my channel but it's on the Freerunning Schlappen Channel. It’s a team that I’m unofficially in, from Germany, they’re my fuckin’ boys. They’re killing it right now, absolutely killing it. They’ve got like 34,000 subscribers (34,300 as of this article) and they probably make enough for one or two people to live off the channel already. So they’re all gonna quit their jobs in a few months and pursue the career full-time. The video has 97,000 views, and is still getting views all the time. Compared to that, everything feels kind of easy. I mean, I’m not gonna make a feature length film on my own again hahaha. I’ve got a plan for another feature but I’m not gonna try and edit it myself. That was a sick experience though, and it captures the experience really well. 

Me: It sounds like a massive undertaking.

Max: Yeah it was like weeks on the phone with Adobe and having issues with Premier and things. But it was so sick, and there were times that I thought it just wasn’t going to happen, but day by day it did. It was really really lucky for me to have a project during Covid. I’m so proud of it. 

Me: I don’t envy you to be perfectly honest. 

Max: Hahaha it was also a really unique time in my life. I was studying, then I moved out of London so I wasn’t paying rent because I was studying online. And then, I could just do all of that and release it for free, and I can’t do that anymore, I need money, you know? That was the only time in my life where I could do something like that and just to the community, give it to the boys, and throw it up on their channel. They had something like 2,000 subscribers when I gave it to them, and it quickly became the most viewed video on their channel. So I feel like I helped them a lot, and I’m really proud of that. 

Me: You should! Do you produce YouTube content full time?

Max: Now? No. I have a lot of freelance stuff at the moment. Hahaha I’m not supposed to be doing this, but I actually work a full-time job, then I also work another fifteen hour contract freelance, try to pick up freelance work here and there, and I try to make YouTube content. So basically I’m fucking busy. The thing I insisted on with this contract is that I edit from home. I work remotely except when I’m shooting, because obviously I have to go in to shoot. But, at some point when this contract finishes, I’m going to travel for a bit and just focus on making YouTube content. Then if I come back and the work has died down, I might live off of my savings for a bit and try to do two YouTube videos a week and just grow that way. But it is a long way off for me making enough money to sustain myself on YouTube alone. 

Me: You said you went to film school?

Max: It’s not film school, technically.  I did a university course in film. Which was almost all theory and the practical skills were basically ignored. But I taught myself the film “skills,” and had the opportunity to study film theory and stuff. Being part of a university though, was amazing, especially if you seek out opportunities. I went into this sport organization for the university, I made some content for them in exchange for a sports scholarship, so I had access to a physio, sports massage, gym access, and now that fifteen-hour-a-week contract is with them, I still have access to all of those benefits, and made really good connections. The university even has a paid internship scheme, which not many people know about, it’s something you have to kind of seek out for yourself. I ended up getting four of them during my time, and I managed to get more than a year of my university fees paid back through this work. They’re like little fourteen-hour-a-week internships, with specific companies but you get paid through the university. Being part of a university is really great for little things like that. Someone from the marketing department saw the content I made for East London Sport, and then contracted me to do some videos for them, and I quoted actual good money for those contracts. So all of those work opportunities, I got through being part of the university, even though my actual coursework wasn’t really in film. 

Me: I don’t know if you listened to the most recent Motus Prodcast with Sam Sutherland, but he touches on this a little bit. They talk about how the barrier for entry for film is literally just an iPhone, which seems wildly unlike the vast majority of industries that have that complaint of needing a masters degree for an entry level position. 

Max: I haven’t listened to it yet, but I plan to! I always listen to them while I’m cooking hahaha. Oh yeah definitely though, I agree. Every time I get work or something that makes someone say “Oh that would look good on your resume,” I’m like, “Yeah… but I never want to have to give someone a resume.” I want to show them my work, and that’s it. Honestly that’s how it should be for freelance film, and art in general, it should be entirely based on your work. But I think Sam is killing it. The thing is, I’m a filmmaker, but I don’t work in the film industry, or really the music video industry. I kind of just make everything from planning to finishing the video myself, which is cool, but it would be really cool to do more of that stuff. I know Sam gets on some big music video sets and bits, I’ve got another good friend as well, Hector Pitt, who was obviously part of Brewman with Sam; I’m really into UK music, like grime and stuff, and Hector’s making videos for the top artists, he’s a really respected director. That all came from shooting and editing parkour videos. For me it’s really all about what you’ve made, examples of your work, and that’s it. You can do that with an iPhone and just work up. 

Me: How would you describe the work you do as a freelancer? Are you a director, or is it more all-encompassing?

Max: It's kind of like a holistic solution from planning to shooting, editing, and delivering. I tend to coordinate with a marketing representative who gives me a brief and says, “This is more or less what I want.” I give them the quote, then I organize and manage the project, and complete the tasks myself. I kind of just do everything, I don’t really know how to describe it. I direct, I conduct interviews myself, I don’t really know the word for it, it’s really an all-in-one solution. I’m still completely separate from the film industry and bigger productions, which eventually I would love to be involved in in some capacity. Just not in a capacity where you work for someone else for 30 years before you have any sort of creative input, you know what I mean?

Me: Absolutely, I get you. It sounds much more stressful taking care of every aspect on your own. 

Max: Yeah, massively. All of the pressure is on you. I’ve had situations that have gone really really badly. I had this video contract which was supposed to sort me out financially for like two years, it was all set up. Then the first video I showed them, it wasn’t through a complete fault of my own, but they didn’t like the quality of it. So I showed them another video, and they loved it, but by that time the senior administration had already decided to remove me from the project. They paid me really well for the one they liked, and I charged them more, since it wasn’t going to be part of a series anymore, but I lost out on a ton of work. I think being a freelancer, if you can get consistent work, is the way to go. The reason being that you have more freedom, you can be more flexible, and even have the potential to make more money, because it’s a per-video basis rather than an hourly wage. It can still be really stressful and tough, like I haven’t had consistent work until now, because I’m on a full-time job, plus freelancing. 

Me: The dangers of job security right?

Max: Exactly, like people get into situations  where they have more work than they can take on, and they’re super requested, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I’ve just sort of made it work for two years, and am finally stable.

Me: Do you benefit from your YouTube content at all, other than self satisfaction?

Max: Financially? A little tiny bit, like I think I made 70£ for the Dom Documentary. When that video hit like 30k views I got monetized. But I never put ads on the start of videos, and I only just started doing that, because I realized, you get a decent number of clicks, but the majority of people will click on your video then go to another one after a minute. So I’m like, “Alright, if that’s what is happening, I might as well get paid for that.” So I get a little bit more. From my most recent series, the first two videos performed terribly, and the second two are doing quite well. I think from those I’ve made a total of like $80 U.S. or something. Nothing terribly significant yet. But on YouTube, you make more money from things like brand integration. So it goes something like: brand integration, merchandise (if you set it up correctly), and then YouTube ad revenue. It would be cool if YouTube revenue was enough to live off of, and then the other two were just a luxury. That would be great!

 

Me: I feel like you touched on that a little bit in your recent videos, it’s just so hard to make a living doing anything that’s parkour centric. 

Max: Yeah, 100 percent. And it can become totally diluted as well, like eventually you aren’t really making a living off of parkour anymore. Do you consider stunts parkour, or do you consider running a gym, but at that point you're an entrepreneur, right? It’s got the word parkour in it, but you aren’t doing parkour every day for your living. I think making consistent YouTube vlogs of training is the best way to just be an athlete. But it’s still a huge amount of work. Like top skaters have filmmakers doing all of the filming for them now, it’s crazy. 

Me: Exactly, to have the same quality of video in parkour, you need to be your own director, videographer, editor, etc. You have to wear so many different hats comparatively, because we’re such a small community.

Max: Seriously. And I don’t think people in the community realize how small we are. It’s ridiculous. Those skaters live in the Hollywood hills, they’re like rockstars. Whereas Joe Scandrett works as a removalist. There’s such a huge fucking disparity, it’s crazy. 

 

Me: What would it take for your content to reach the next level and start to support you?

Max: I think it would just take what happened to Jimmy, get some big hitters, some 500k or 1 million views, with content that isn’t that different from what you make regularly. Just keep making consistent videos. If you make a video every week that gets at least 100k views, you can live off of YouTube ad revenue. Especially if it’s like a 10-20 minute video. You can do that consistently over time, but usually getting that first viral hit helps. As long as it’s similar content, like I said. I’ve been studying this a lot recently. A lot of channels, in parkour especially, have had huge viral videos with 30 million views. Parkour twins for example in Australia, Brody and Dylan Pawson. They’ve got that 30 million on their Spider-Man POV videos, like good for them, I don’t hate that kind of content. They made good money from that, they’ve got 1 million subscribers on YouTube, but now they’re making regular training vlogs and stuff, and it actually hinders them having that many subscribers. Because what happens is, YouTube will show the training video to their 1 million subscribers first, and their subscribers only want to watch POV’s so they don’t click on the video, it lowers the click through rate, and then YouTube doesn’t show it as much to other people. So my two most recent videos have more views than their most recent five videos, and they again have 1 million subscribers. It’s important not to branch out too much from your niche. If you just make parkour POV’s and they blow up, then you just continue making POV’s and turn it into a money machine, then make a separate channel for your other content. That would be better than trying to diversify the content on one channel, you see what I mean? Having more subscribers can be a hindrance if they aren’t clicking every single video. You see Origins Parkour, they have something like 14,000 subscribers, but they’re trying to make a bunch of videos that are different content to what those subscribers watched the channel for originally. So their latest videos are averaging 300 views or something, even though they’re making consistent content. If you want to branch out from what made you popular, you’re better off starting another channel. 

Me: So just like Ampisound, and their new channel that’s more dedicated to training vlogs, as opposed to the POV videos that make up the bulk of their original channel.

Max: Yeah, exactly. Scott who runs Ampisound is quite smart, and so he’s probably thought about this, rather than put everything on the first channel, they use that to focus on making viral successes, and put everything else on another channel.

Me: That’s something I really wanted to talk to you about, because you have Jimmy the Giant, who basically does what you and I do, it’s just parkour video essays and journalism. But he’s diverting so far from the parkour at this point, going down the extreme sports route. Luckily for him, I think, he’s earned enough viewers who are interested in the entirety of extreme sports, and who are willing to follow him from sport genre to sport genre. But in the last few weeks he’s begun to struggle a little bit with algorithms and age restrictions as well, alongside losing some of the initial parkour demographic that he had. 

Max: Yeah for sure, but I think people will overestimate how much of his audience is the parkour community. I think it’s a tiny fraction. The content he’s making now is still very similar to what he was doing back then, it’s just, “here’s an interesting topic, and a bunch of information,” and people find that interesting. He also might have moved away from parkour because he was getting some hate hahaha. Some people didn’t always like what he was doing, and he got some facts wrong and things. Now he appears to approach it like, “what’s something people will find interesting, without branching off to a completely different topic,” and he’s having success through that. But yeah, it’s become more YouTube essays than really anything to do with parkour. Storror is kind of the anomaly in this. Almost every parkour YouTuber branches off a little bit and does some things to get more views except for Storror. 

Me: And Storror have done some things to cater to the viewers as well, even without branching out tremendously. Like they noticed their water videos do well, so they started making a lot of water videos. But they still get very good viewership even on the usual training vlogs. 

Max: Yeah it’s funny, I actually just recorded a video on this, which will be up in the next few weeks or something. It’s about how they have succeeded through just authentic parkour content, like they wanted. And with very little sacrifice or compromise. There are small ones, like let’s do more water challenges, but they’re still just going out jumping, you know?

Me: Definitely, and I think the key word there is “authentic.” Right? You can still tell that they’re just friends, having very genuine interactions, and doing bits. 

Max: Yeah, they never come across as YouTubers. And I wouldn’t even fault them for doing that. You look at Harry Gallagher, Nightscape, he made a little bit of parkour and a lot of urbex content. And now he’s very much the YouTuber influencer, and like, fair play right? He’s made some money, good for him. But Storror really are street rats just as much as they’ve always been. When I interviewed them, the conversation went for like two hours just because they had so much to say, and you could see the passion coming through talking about parkour. And like Toby working on all of the Capstone stuff, he’s not going to see any real gain in terms of money and stuff, but he just loves it. He’s so passionate about it, just groundbreaking parkour content. The value for him and the community outweighs the external value. I’m so glad that they’re on top, as opposed to many others who could be on top of the parkour scene.

Me: Absolutely, there’s a level of genuineness that comes across from Storror, and is pretty unique. As far as people you’ve interviewed, who is the most interesting, in your opinion?

Max: Oh man…. Who’s the most interesting? (Max leaned back in his chair, and covered the lower half of his face with his hand, completely lost in reflection.)

Me: I want people to be disappointed that you didn’t choose them hahaha.

Max: It’s a nasty question isn’t it hahahaha. I think it was Dom, because we’ve been friends for like six years or something. What was interesting with Dom was some of the responses I got out of him surprised me, and I think his mentality has changed as well. He was really trying to become an actor and pursue some more conventional fame, and he probably still wouldn’t be opposed to that. He’s reached a level of contentment and stuff now. I asked him a couple of questions, and one in particular that I remember, I asked him if he was more of an athlete or a performer. He was like, “I’ve never been asked that, I’m more of a performer.” And it was just an interesting conversation, so I would say Dom. I have three more athlete documentaries in the works right now. I haven’t told anyone who I’m making them with, so you can publish this as a small exclusive hahaha. One of the documentaries has been shot and I’m in post-production on it, with Stefy Madness from Colombia, living in Madrid. I’ve got one on Ed Scott, and Mikesh from Prague. I started the Ed Scott one before I did Dom’s, it was ages ago, but we could never meet up to finish it. Those are documentaries. I have a bone to pick with Jimmy because he calls his videos “documentaries.” He’s my mate haha so there’s no beef or anything. 

Me: They’re video essays.

Max: Exactly! He has a playlist on his channel called “Documentarys,” misspelled and everything. And they’re not documentaries, I call them deep dive videos, or video essays like you said. And my most recent videos aren’t documentaries either.  You can’t make a documentary from your bedroom, you have to go and document something. That’s my view. And these documentaries that I’ve got coming out take a huge amount more effort than my deep dive videos. So, deep dives have their place on YouTube and they’re obviously valuable, but that word “documentary” should be kept what it is. I feel pride in that word hahaha. He’s out at the USA Parkour Cup and they introduced him as a documentarian, and all I could think was, “He’s never made a documentary!” 

Me: This is arguably the first one that he’s doing right now then!

Max: Yeah exactly! No but he’s sick, and I’ll message him to get his opinion on titles and thumbnails and stuff, which is a hugely important thing. The first two videos in my most recent series totally flopped right? Like 300 views in the first week, really really bad. Then I put out the third one, “The Saddest Day in Parkour History” with Sacha on the thumbnail, and a picture of Joe Scandrett from the Breach film looking like he’s gonna injure himself, it got 2,400 views in the first hour, vs. the previous video getting 90 views. It’s the same content, same quality, same series and everything, but, “The Saddest Day in Parkour History,” compared to “Advice from Parkour’s Top Filmmakers,” The Saddest Day just destroyed. Now the previous two videos in the series are getting closer to the last two in views, but the vast majority of viewers are watching the first videos after having seen the “click-baitey” second videos I put out. That shit is completely essential, and not one person has complained about the title being a bit click-baitey. If it’s valuable content, they’re happy to watch it, you just need to give them a reason to click. Like my most recent one, “Getting Rich off of Parkour,” the real title is making money from parkour, but getting rich just sounds better. 

Me: That’s the line that you tow right? If your title is click-bait, as long as it’s backed up by valuable content, then who gives a shit?

Max: Yeah, and as long as you’re not lying in the title then you likely don’t have a problem. Like Storror have gotten rich from parkour now, and good for them, they were making a living, and now it’s really good money, so the title isn’t misleading. 

Me: Everyone makes fun of the YouTube thumbnail thing in parkour now, which is hilarious considering how necessary it is. Like Verky’s recent videos feature that joke quite a lot.

Max: You’ll never see anyone who’s had success on YouTube talking shit on it you know? And about Verky, like get a HD camera! He’s shooting in like 720p and it’s pissing me off hahaha. But no he’s killing it. He’s being consistent and he’s building an audience who like to see what he does. He’s usually getting more views than he has subscribers, which is what you want. It gets harder the more subscribers you have, but generally that’s what you want.

Me: It’s funny that you mention that, because I interviewed Verky months ago for an article, and his whole thing was consistency. Consistency in his training, his uploads, his skills, it was his whole mantra. And it really is so important. 

Max: If you just make it a routine, then you can. Doing it on your own is hard as hell. And he’s one of the few athletes who every session is doing world class stuff. I’m absolutely not like that. Even if I was never injured and put all of my effort into making parkour vlogs, I could only get a quality vlog out every month or so. But he’s got the skills to do it every week.

Me: Yeah, if you’ve got the talent to make it happen, then use it.

Max: It’s like training with the Phat guys in London, I train with them pretty regularly, and they’re so hard to train with because they’re so consistent. I’ll take a half hour to prepare for a jump that takes them two or three minutes, and by the time I’m ready to commit to the jump, they’re ready to hit the next spot. But training like that for content is perfect. 

Me: It’s so hard to train at that level all the time too.

Max: Yeah only a small number of people can do it. I realized it’s not for me. I’m better at presenting, and scripting stuff, and things like that, than I am at being a consistent athlete. Like I’m a decent athlete, I’m an alright filmmaker, but I’m better at talking than any of those. I’m actually really really excited, next week at Project Underground I’m gonna MC the event with my friend Jan. We’re gonna get footage and try and become this duo who MC’s a lot of parkour events and stuff.

Me: That would be so cool! Stepping into the realm of like Anan Anwar and Josh Dohy hahaha.

Max: Yeah totally! I’ve MC’d before, I did a FIG event in Japan in front of a 2,000 person audience, and it went great! But then the organization was dismantled and the people who promised they’d bring me back every year weren’t there anymore. But I want to move into that realm for sure. The problem is that they pick people for their clout over anything else, so if you want a loud Australian, you’re gonna pick Dom. Now I am more eloquent than Dom. He smokes too much weed, I can speak better than Dom. But I would still pick Dom over me, because he’s Dom you know? Haha he knows it’s true, and he’s great on the mic, so it's not a big deal, I just get a little frustrated hahaha. He’s arguably the most popular parkour athlete on the planet so it is what it is haha. 

Me: My final question for you, is how do you deal with algorithms and age restrictions that haven’t been kind to parkour content creators?

Max: Age restrictions will kill your videos, and when that happens, you just need to change your content. I think now is actually a really great time for algorithms. It’s very about individual video performance as opposed to your whole channel. Creators on Tiktok or Instagram struggle to get some of their stuff out there, because unless you get a huge amount of traction initially, it just doesn’t go anywhere. Unless you already had a large following and brought the following with you, in which case it can only go up. And it’s kind of the inverse on YouTube now. If you have a huge following but they aren’t interested in the video, YouTube goes, “Well this video sucks.” But if you have a smaller following but enough people click on it, it can do really well. You absolutely need to appeal to the titles and thumbnails, and some videos will just flop. You need to be aware of what’s happening and the trends and stuff, but now is the time. Every video is an opportunity to have a bit of success. 


Max’s work ethic and passion for parkour and filmmaking collide beautifully, and his takes on matters of parkour culture are insightful. He is without question pushing the envelope of parkour journalism with his documentaries and essays, and I, for one, am incredibly excited to see what comes down the pipeline next. If you wish to take a look at Max’s content, you can find him on YouTube as Maximus Ward, or Instagram @maximus_ward. 


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