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Action sports superstar Pastrana takes a flier on film

Travis Pastrana is an action sports superstar known for pushing the limits. ¶ Two years ago, he upped the ante by pulling off the first double backflip on a motorcycle to win the Moto X title at the X Games. ¶ That isn't his only death-defying trick. ¶ He has jumped out of an airplane without a parachute and ridden his bike over the edge of the Grand Canyon. ¶ And he's lived to tell about it. ¶ So after years of testing the law of averages and surviving a career as a human missile, he has decided to share his experiences in a two-hour documentary titled 199 Lives: The Travis Pastrana Story. ¶ The documentary will play at 7 p.m. today and Thursday at the Citrus Park Mall 20 in Tampa. Tickets are $10 at the box office or fathomevents.com. ¶ Times staff writer Bob Putnam talked to Pastrana by phone last week about the movie, his stunts and what other tricks he has in the works.

Why did you decide to do a documentary?

This was kind of a way to get into the movie business. We've done a lot of in-your-face, action-sports type of videos. But this was a more serious role. It's something we hope can do well at film festivals and get in the door. I'm putting a lot out there about my life. It gives a different perspective on what an action-sport athlete goes through.

When you take a look at some of the footage from your stunts, do you ever shake your head and wonder how you ever pulled that off?

I sometimes look at tape, and it's amazing to see how many times I've fallen. Sometimes you look back and think that might not have been a great idea at the time, but I don't regret a lot of the things I've done. It's always a good time.

Did you play traditional, team-oriented sports such as football or baseball growing up?

I never really had the coordination down for team sport activities, like throwing a ball and catching it. I guess that's why I fall most of the time. I've just always preferred individual sports as opposed to team sports. There are some things that are cool and team-oriented in the things I do, such as working with mechanics and things like that. But I know, if I fail when performing a stunt, it was my fault. And I can take pride in myself when I succeed. I have a very competitive personality, and I don't always want to have to rely on someone else.

What other action sports do you want to try?

I've been very fortunate. I've tried just about every form of racing now. But I'll give anything a shot.

What other type of stunts are you planning?

It's great when something works. You get the imagination running wild, work out the bugs and make it happen. The big thing now is base jumping or skydiving. The only problem is there's not a lot of room between pass or fail. If you fail, you're probably going to die. The risk is definitely high.

Do you plan on doing anything more in the film industry?

The documentary has given me a chance to write and direct. It's kind of got my feet wet in the industry. There's been a lot of hype with the documentary. I know I'll be able to take something out of it. I hope there's a future in it.

I'm sure your family would be thrilled if you decided to pursue making movies instead of attempting any more stunts.

My whole family has been on the sideline cheering for me. But there's always been a joke with them that I'm welcome to join the family construction business at any time. I'm sure they're hoping I back down from any more stunts. They'd love it if I did anything behind the camera. But sometimes performing stunts is fun.

Backflips are old hat to Travis Pastrana, but filmmaking is a new trick. His documentary is being shown tonight and Thursday in Tampa.

Action sports superstar Pastrana takes a flier on film 04/15/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 7:34pm]
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