NYC Parkour Community Profile: Film Maker and Sound Designer

Meet Cody Ball - a talented film maker and athlete who uses his parkour skills and vision to capture movement in cinematic and surreal ways. Check out two of his videos:

AGE: 23
OCCUPATION: Filmmaker, Sound Designer
PASSIONS: being active, the outdoors, learning new things
PERSONAL WEBSITE: badapplebox.com 

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU FIRST DECIDE TO TRY PARKOUR? 

I was bored on one rainy Saturday a couple of years ago, and for some reason I remembered a YouTube video I watched in like 2006 where this guy in Russia was climbing buildings, jumping to different ledges, and doing flips. As the rain poured down, I kept searching YouTube for more parkour, realizing “Hey I can climb! hey I can jump over things! hey I can sort of do a handstand!...Why the heck am I not doing parkour?” I guess my mind was stuck in the rut of using athleticism to be on a team and win a game, but at that moment watching youtube my mind was opened to using athleticism for just having fun and conquering fear.

WHAT ARE YOUR TRAINING MOTIVATIONS, BARRIERS AND GOALS? 

I’ve got a lot of hobbies because I’m always trying to be creative, but most of the time that creative energy is mental. Parkour is a way to let out physical creative energy, and that just feels really good. I’m still super new to parkour, but ultimately I just want to know what I’m fully capable of both physically and creatively. I can’t tell you how many times my mind stops me from doing something that my body is capable of. I want to overcome that. However, even if on any given day my mind isn’t in a spot to really push myself, I know that parkour can still be a good workout that I’ll enjoy it 40 times more than going to the gym.

YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF SPORTS. HOW IS PARKOUR DIFFERENT? HOW HAVE THOSE EXPERIENCES INFLUENCED YOUR TRAINING?

I’ve played sports forever: Basketball, soccer, golf, track...you name it. I also was really into skateboarding and snowboarding growing up. I think the biggest advantage that parkour has to all of these things is that you can do it right now, like seriously you could put your laptop down this second and find a creative way to vault over your couch and get your blood flowing. You don’t need money, a team, a ball, or a board; all you need is your body. Also, the things that I love about other sports (like competition, time limits, rules, etc.) can all be applied to parkour, the difference being that there isn’t a rulebook; instead you create your own challenges and boundaries. I will say confidently that other sports help you do parkour, and parkour helps you do other sports. Just because parkour is a more flexible activity doesn’t mean it’s the be-all-end-all to skills or fitness.

YOUR PARKOUR VIDEOS SHOWCASE MOVEMENT SO BEAUTIFULLY. TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THOSE PROJECTS. 

"Real life makes you feel alive, but can a video? What I want to do with film is exploit the medium to help us experience (not just see, but actually feel) things we haven’t experienced before."

In this crazy era, we’re so over-saturated with media that we feel like we’ve seen everything and been everywhere. It takes about 5 seconds to search a video that transports you to the inside of a volcano or a tropical island, or to see someone do a triple backflip on a snowboard or jump through hoops of fire. We’ve seen it all, but we haven’t felt it all. These days, a backflip on a computer screen is like watching child’s play. A freerunner makes it look effortless and you’ve seen it a million times--but as some random youtube audience member, have you tried a backflip? Probably not, and you might never try one, but don’t you still want to know what it feels like? Feel the anxiety right before initiating the leap, feel your feet leave the ground and your mind get disoriented, then upon landing feel the surface that came up to greet you or feel that your breathing has intensified because blood is coursing through your veins.

Real life makes you feel alive, but can a video? What I want to do with film is exploit the medium to help us experience (not just see, but actually feel) things we haven’t experienced before. Everything from the shots I choose, to the editing techniques, to color, sound, and music are all helping to serve a complex experience, and ultimately that becomes a story with a beginning, middle, and end. In “Mercury”, for example, I wanted to get into the mind of Nikkie, showing that underneath fast-paced movements is a serious level of focus and creativity that puts everything together. I still have a lot to learn and to practice, but it’s nice to know that even at this level, people are really enjoying the finished products.

Doing parkour has absolutely helped these videos bloom, both in creative choices and also in my ability to balance in weird places while filming.

HOW HAS PARKOUR INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE? 

"Claustrophobia doesn’t exist when you can simply climb over the walls enclosing you."

I’ve had trouble in the past with feeling boxed in, especially in New York. Whenever I used to get stressed out, I would try to find something really high (like a huge staircase or a rooftop) so I could look out over buildings to feel like I was bigger than whatever system, deadline, or person that was getting me down. Parkour conjures up that same high by making me feel like nothing is restricting me--claustrophobia doesn’t exist when you can simply climb over the walls enclosing you.

It’s also really nice to take a parkour mindset and apply it to something else. I’m now always asking myself, “How can I do this differently? How can this be more efficient? How can I make this more creative and more fun?”

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THE MOVEMENT CREATIVE PARKOUR COMMUNITY?

The Movement Creative is seriously the best thing ever. I think my favorite thing about it is simply the people. I’ve made great, unexpected friendships and have felt incredibly supported by people in the community. It’s awesome training with other people who push you to try things differently and get out of your comfort zone, but it’s even better when those people are also just there to have a good time and be good friends. Plus, when you’re just hanging out together NOT doing parkour, all that creative energy always makes for a ridiculously unpredictable day...in the best way possible.