I thought it would be interesting to do a write up about getting a particular shot. Seems pretty narrow of a topic, but let me put some perspective to it so you can understand what goes into making a film ready for the screen. The video below is the result of what took place in the story that follows it:
Sometimes the camera grabs the right thing
I want to tell my story in a way that entertains, inspires, and just makes any person on the planet want to go out and ride a dirtbike. The story includes many of my passions. Dirt Biking, exploring, cinematography, and thrill seeking via whatever comes across my path.
In my attempts to bring the story to the screen, I have taken thousands of video clips, sound bites, and photos. I have seen a progression of quality over the course of the film project. I feel a lot more capable of going out and producing something more visually pleasing than when I first started.
I don’t want to spill all the beans, but on a recent film shoot, I went out with an idea to get a particular shot. I wanted a majestic “top of the world” shot that would blow minds. I wanted it to include a motorcycle and a man. My hope was to make the shot tell a specific story. The story was to include reaching a goal, risking much to do so, and receiving an award for the hard work. That’s where I started.
In prep the night before the film shoot, I gathered all the equipment needed. Drone batteries charged and firmware all updated. Extra cords and propellers in case something goes wrong. SD card formatted, ND filter kit cleaned up, fuel tank topped off, and the chain lubed. I check the tire pressures and fluids on the Honda CRF 450x. It’s my favorite steed. It always gets me there and back.
Sorry for the view!
An early morning rise will allow me to reach the film site when the sun is coming up. My hope is that there will be some clouds. I cannot control that, but based on the last few mornings, it looks like it should be good.
My head hits the pillow as I go back through my memory bank of perfect picture places. Pachatusan is the location. It’s a huge mountain, 16000ft that sits just behind my house. There are two rock points that I have in mind. I can put my bike on these points, although it’s not an easy ride, but it’s worth the shot.
Five in the morning brings first light. I get up, gear up, and head out in short order. I ride smooth and fast for 30 minutes from my house to reach the spot. Yup, it’s pretty. I get all giddy because of the way the scenery holds the colors, the silhouettes, and overwhelming views that just don’t seem real.
I begin to set up the drone. My plan is to do a point of interest shot which places the camera on a center area, while the drone does a circle around the point of interest. If I set the angles just right, I capture the portion of the ride up to the rocky point. I prepare the drone for flight, start the camera, and fly it over the point of interest to set the drone flight pattern. I set the camera exposure, shooting in 4k, with a 4mph circling speed. Now it’s time to get the shot.
I set the controller on the ground, hop on my bike, and get ready for the drone to pass a spot on its circle. Once it reaches the right spot, I begin to ride up the gnarly rock to reach the point. It’s scary, but I have done it before and know what I am up against. My first attempt was foiled as my impatience and hurry somehow broke my concentration as I crashed out before reaching the top.
The batteries are limited and I used a bunch of the time to set up the shot. In the first case, I had to go back and replace the battery and set up the shot again because of my crash. Second times a charm.
On the second attempt, I set it all up much faster. This time, I patiently do it right. I ride up the rocky point flawlessly and place my tires on the rock outcropping. It drops off hundreds of feet. I feel a queasy sensation as I look down into the canyon.
It’s funny, but the thoughts of my clutch cable snapping at the moment that I roll my tire up to the edge of the cliff give me the heeby jeebies. Dirtbikes are such a mind game. I stay there for a moment, I look around in awe, then I shake my head in disbelief that I can actually exist in a place like that. I forget that I am filming because I am so blown away at what’s in front of me. Regardless, I get the shot.
It’s not over. I still have to get back and edit the footage. Opening the file for the first time to watch the raw scene, is always a thrill. It’s like a kid opening a Christmas present.
Just a little screenshot!
Once I review the whole scene, then I put the raw footage into my editing software and clip and cut it to exactly what I want. I tweak the color if need be and add an effect or size it up to fit like I want.
There is something magical when it all comes together. I know its film, but it gives me the same feeling as when I am facing an impossible hill climb. I decide to give it my best and most aggressive shot and I rip all the way to the top. Surprised and thrilled at the same moment, I scream and raise my fist in celebration to the guys down below.
Yeah, that is the thrill that has pushed me to reach the end of this film project. I am hoping to have the film released for video on demand after the film festivals. There is always the chance that it might get picked up by a media buyer as well. Not sure where this thing is going to go, but I can sleep well at night knowing that I reached my goal. I finished.
Make sure to stay tuned right here as I will keep you TT peeps up to speed on the film. I also will be keeping the official film page on Facebook up to date. It’s called Never Ride Alone Film. Make sure to give it a like and share the heck out of it. I am pretty sure the moto community has never seen a film project quite like this one... A solo movie experience completely created by one hard enduro guy who loves dirtbikes as much as anybody on ThumperTalk. Thanks for following along, but if you're note, tap that "follow" button up top to be notified of when I post new stories.