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Mario Brothers romp through Salt Lake City in parkour hit

Published August 30, 2013 7:35 am

Tech • Video features talents of stunt artists and Provo company.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two parkour artists and a creative trio from Provo have managed to supersede Nintendo.

In a four-minute video that's been viewed almost 1.6 million times in the last three days, Draper's Christian Russell and South Jordan's Ronnie Shalvis portray Mario and Luigi, respectively, from Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. The mustached duo flip, leap and dive through Salt Lake City while dodging fireballs and kicking Goombas, backed by a metalized compilation of Mario songs through the years.

"We were going for that fun feeling," Russell said. "We just wanted you to feel happy after watching it."

Nintendo released its own Luigi parkour video on the same day, but they've garnered little more than a 10th of the views.

The Salt Lake City video was produced by Warialasky, a three-person studio based in Provo that did all the directing, editing, graphics and sound in-house. Brothers Casen and Landon Sperry and Mike Brown hatched the idea of a Mario parkour months earlier, but they got sidetracked creating a fan video for the popular video game "Skyrim."

"Somehow Mario and Luigi had never been linked with parkour before, even though that's basically what they do," Casen Sperry said. "We decided if we were the first, people would love it."

Warialasky recently bought new computers with the processing power to use FumeFX, which allowed them to create the flashy 3-D fireballs. Brown wrote and performed most of the music, though all three of the disarmingly talented producers play piano and guitar.

"We were able to actually create the environment," Casen Sperry said. "I think that more than anything is what blew people away."

They filmed just a couple of weeks ago (see a behind-the-scenes video here), with Shalvis and Russell taking the lead in the location hunt. At least, that is, after an hour or so of milling about and trading thoughts. "It kind of took a while because it's tough," Sperry said. "We don't want to be the ones telling them 'Go jump off that.'"

Much of the video was shot at the University of Utah, which has "amazing architecture," Russell said. The elevation changes, gaps and walls are apparently tailor-made for hardcore parkour.

At one point, while shooting near city center, Shalvis was doing stunts on private property when a security guard told them to exit the premises. They did, but they shot Shalvis leaping over a wall as the crew backtracked out. "It was our way of exiting the premises," Sperry said.

Shalvis and Russell both work with the Salt Lake-based CBR Stunt Team, a go-to for Warialasky.

However, Shalvis, an 8-year parkour veteran, was not Warialasky's first choice. CBR stunt pro Chris Romrell was busy (he can be seen on NBC's "American Ninja Warrior") and passed along Shalvis' number, but Warialasky had heard that Shalvis was unable to perform due to sciatica — a radiating nerve pain in his lower back. As it happened, Shalvis was rounding back into old form.

"He was kind of an accident, but he's a welcome accident," Casen Sperry said. "When we began filming, immediately it was obvious: 'Oh yeah, he's back.'"

Russell is just 18 and graduated from Alta High School this spring. Unlike Shalvis, he was targeted by Warialasky from Day One.

"He's so fearless," Casen Sperry said. "He has no training. Gymnasts probably watch what Christian does and cringe. He'll begin a rotation halfway through a flip. So far he's my favorite parkour person in all of Utah."

Sperry said that Warialasky has just one regret: The hats fell off too much. Many of the criticisms on YouTube are leveled at Mario's head, if not level-headed (some of the suggestions, like tape, glue or pins, were either impractical or dangerous). When YouTube linked to the video on its front page, they quipped, "Hats off to you guys," Sperry said.

Warialasky produces a video almost every other week through a partnership with Google and also receives some advertising splits from YouTube, but projects like this one are aimed at landing more lucrative professional contracts.

The Tribune's Sean Means has written about Warialasky in the past. Read about their "Skyrim" fan video, "Tetris" trailer, and their penchant for creating viral sensations.

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper Behind the scenes

See video about the filming of Super Mario Bros. Parkour › bit.ly/12RbIPI