An Accidental Documentary
I’ll be honest. After the first exhausting day of riding and filming CycleOregon, I didn’t think I would make it through the week alive. We had brought a week’s supply of 5 Hour Energy and it wasn’t looking like it would be enough.
A week before we even made it to the start line, Laura was making phone calls, setting up interviews with local proponents and juggling our schedule so we could hit all the small communities by rented mini van before the event. I was busy testing out video gear, trying to reduce things to the bare functional minimal I would need since I would be carrying everything by bike. In three days we drove the entire route, stopped at all the communities, shot some B-roll, interviewed the local proponents and then circled back to the beginning.
THEN, the actual ride started. It was our first CycleOregon so we had to get over the initial shock of the sheer enormity of the ride and get to work. It was also proving to be one of the toughest CycleOregon routes in the history of the ride with 35,000 feet of climbing over the week.
Our daily schedule consisted of getting up at 5:30am while it was dark and literally freezing outside. We would quickly take down our tent, shove things in our duffle bags and carry them to the luggage drop. Then it was a mad rush to shove hot breakfast foods down the gullet so we could shoot B-roll of people rolling out of camp. We’d ride hard everyday, trying to stay in the middle of the pack, knowing that by the end of the day we would be coming in near the back because of all our filming stops.
During lunch breaks and rest stops we’d shovel more food, barely taking a break before we were up and walking around trying to find willing cyclists and volunteers to interview. Then, more B-roll. We’d usually end up spending an hour at stops, longer than we usually would but we had to get footage.
Victory at the finish line everyday was sweet but short lived. I’d stop to film the volunteers and riders coming in, while Laura went to luggage drop to find our bags with the tent. We’d quickly set up camp, stand in line at the shower, shoot more B-roll, eat dinner, shoot more B-roll, then go to sleep exhausted only to wake up at 5:30am to repeat the whole process.
During the first few days of the ride, people thought we were nuts. Heck, I thought we were nuts. People would pedal by on their lightweight bikes and ask us about the “Film Crew” sign on our bikes. We’d explain what we were doing and ask if they wanted to join. We could always use more interns and grips to carry some camera gear. Surprisingly, there were no takers. By the end of the week, people had caught on and would cheer “Film Crew!” as they flew by us going up the hill. Though we did have one sweet day of revenge on the last day. It was flat and fast and we were feeling good and we hammered along at 25mph with camera gear and all : )
But as I’m learning, filming in someways is the easy part. It’s been about three months since we rode CycleOregon and nearly everyday I’ve been chipping away at editing the 18 hours of footage. It was a monumental task, our first video project of this length. When Jerry Norquist from CycleOregon first asked us to ride and film the event, we were hesitant. It’s challenging enough to just ride the event, much less film it at the same time. But in retrospect, we are glad we said yes because it has been one of the toughest and most fulfilling projects we’ve taken on.
So now we are done and the finished product is online. We learned a lot on the ride and after. When we first set out, I didn’t think it would be a 28 minute documentary, but that is what is has become. I’m proud of it and feel lucky to have been part of CycleOregon’s 25th anniversary ride and help tell their story. I also feel privileged to have spent time with the proponents from the small communities and to be able to share their voices. So sit back, grab a beer and some popcorn and enjoy.
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