Teenage burnout competitors profiled on new Vice Australia program Rage In The Cage

An interview with Andrew Kavanagh, director of Rage In The Cage, which focuses on young burnout competitors

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A NEW youth-based TV series called Australiana premiered on SBS last night, the first episode of which focuses on the regional burnout scene. Titled Rage In The Cage, the half-hour Vice Australia program follows several kids in Gippsland, Victoria competing in the Young Guns burnout class for ages 14 to 18.

Whether you enjoy smoke shows or not, it’s a fascinating look into the various ways in which burnout competition can positively impact people’s lives. And while it's probably not likely to turn Average Joe into a fan of the sport, it will give him a better understanding of the motivations of those who live and breathe it.

Street Machine spoke with the director of Rage In The Cage, Andrew Kavanagh, to ask about his tour of duty in the tyre-shredding scene.

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Give us a summary of what Rage In The Cage is about.

It’s a documentary about the burnout scene, seen through the eyes of some of its youngest competitors. It’s about how they find a way to cope with negative things in their lives through this passion that they have.

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What did you learn about the burnout scene from making the film? 

Basically just how much of an impact it had on everyone’s lives once they got into the scene. For some of them it could be a life-changing thing. And I think it is for some of these young people. Having this passion for burnouts is helping them get through some of those difficult teenage things that you go through. The other thing I learnt was how much of a tight-knit and supportive community it is. Everyone is helping each other out, giving each other tyres – there doesn’t seem to be much of that bitchiness you get in competitive sport.

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Did it make you into a fan of burnouts or nah? 

I probably wouldn’t go along all the time because I’m not a big fan of the smoke and noise. When we were at Bairnsdale filming I had to spend some time hiding under a tarp from all the smoke. But visually the reason I wanted to do the doco was because of how beautiful burnouts are – they are just amazing to look at. It was a cinematographer’s dream being there and filming them in slow motion. But I’d probably rather just watch them on YouTube from now on.

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Did you anticipate that such a seemingly outlaw sport could have so many positive things to offer its participants?

Well, like I said, I was drawn to it because it was beautiful and I guess I was just hoping there would be more to the scene and to the characters so it would be something more than just burnout porn. I guess you expect to encounter bogans and people that just want to get loose, but I was surprised at how many people at Rage In The Cage were just genuine enthusiasts. And the love they have for the sport is sort of inspiring.

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And were you expecting to find the level of redemption that you did?

No. That was beyond what I expected. And once you find that truth when you’re making a documentary it’s important to honour it, and this was more genuine than anything I could have imagined. I didn’t set out to make something that would demonise the scene or anything like that, but I guess I didn’t realise how much more there was to it.

Rage In The Cage is now live on vice.com.

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Matt Reekie
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