Louis Citadelle on the challenges of both filming and riding in his latest video 'Self Portrait'

Louis Citadelle riding an Alpine mountain ridge
(Image credit: Louis Citadelle)

Kona MTB ambassador, Louis Citadelle may be just 21-years-old, but he's already made a name for himself on the mountain bike video scene by releasing two beautifully shot and seriously impressive self-made edits of Alpine riding. His first, Why I Ride, dropped last year, while the second, Self-Portrait, debuted on YouTube last week.

If you've not checked out Self-Portrait yet, you can watch it below (we've also linked to Why I Ride at the bottom of this article). We recently caught up with the French MTBer and quizzed him on the challenges of solo filmmaking and how Self-Portrait came together.

What are the most difficult aspects of making self-shot videos?

For me, the most challenging part in self-filming is definitely the effort needed to carry all the gear to the location, and then do countless trips when on site to move my bike, camera bag, tripod, and camera constantly. Being a professional filmmaker in everyday life I am used to filming riders out on the trails with the same gear I used to make Self-Portrait, yet it doesn't come close to how exhausting the self-filming process is. Getting a single shot is much longer to line up and it gets very tedious at times. That being said, it's very rewarding feeling when you eventually capture exactly what you had in mind.

Louis Citadelle night riding in the Alps

(Image credit: Louis Citadelle)

How long did Self-Portrait take to shoot and complete?

I would always go scouting before filming, to make sure I was making the most of the features and lighting conditions of the trail. I would then make a detailed shot list of everything I absolutely wanted to shoot before heading out, and left some room for any shot ideas I'd think of once out on the trail, and that entire process took about 25-30 days. I'm happy with how I handled the project in a way that I never got too far off track wasting time working on something that wouldn't make the final cut, and that translated to a very smooth editing process, where I counted about 90 hours of work to edit, sound design and color grade everything.

Louis Citadelle riding towards the coast

(Image credit: Louis Citadelle)

Which locations in Self-Portrait can you tell us about?

Self-Portrait was filmed between my hometown of Morzine, Finale Ligure, and a small town in central France, close to Clermont-Ferrand. I wanted to bring diversity to the locations I rode my bike in because I always try and showcase the beauty of our environment in my self-shot projects. It's hard to pick one favorite location, but one that stands out would be the segment where I filmed in the forest covered in deep green loam. I actually spent a day building that section of trail just for this film, after I'd found it on a hike a few years ago. It sits deep in a forest in the middle of nowhere, which requires a bit of pushing up after driving to the end of a random tiny road, so hopefully no one will ever stumble on it.

Louis Citadelle preparing to ride a shot in his film Self-Portrait

(Image credit: Louis Citadelle)

What's next for you?

I have lots of plans for next year already. I will definitely be doing more self-shot edits, but I want to put a lot more focus into my riding skills to hopefully add an extra element to the videos. I want to hit bigger jumps, gnarlier lines and in general just have more style on my bike and push myself more, which is quite delicate to do when you are out filming by yourself, but it is what it is. Last summer I completed the Everest challenge on my trail bike and I enjoyed it so much, whether it was completing the actual ride or doing all the training beforehand. I have already found my next challenge for 2023 and I'm very much looking forward to getting it done!

Many thanks to Louis for taking the time to speak with us. You can follow him and see his photographic work on Instagram, and check out his first film, Why I Ride, below.

Richard Owen
Editor, Bike Perfect

Richard has worked as print and internet journalist for 22 years. He's the editor of the Bikeperfect.com team, having previous been editor of What Mountain Bike magazine and written for Bikeradar.com, MBUK.com, Off-Road.cc, Mountain Biking UK, Cycling Plus, as well as many other magazines and websites. Rich has been riding mountain bikes for over 30 years and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, Rich has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance MTB races, not to mention also now adding gravel to his riding repertoire. A resident of North Devon, he can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 

Current rides: Canyon Spectral:ON, Jamis Faultline A1, Vitus Substance VR

Height: 176cm

Weight: 70kg