Brew, Sweat & Gears – Production Blog

So, as a lot of people know from our twitter feed, a few weeks back FilmGrade embarked on its first full-length documentary. The story behind it is one of heroes, bravery, and lots of tea.

Empowered People is a charity that supports disabled individuals to get their freedom back through the form of cycling. They aid purchase of specialised cycles and offer moral support to these people to get them out of their homes and into the road, helping them both physically and emotionally.

A few weeks back, the charity and some of the people they have helped set off on their first publicity ride, cycling from coast to coast.

“what’s so brave about that?!”

Let me tell you about a man named John. John used to be a truck driver, until he was diagnosed with a tumour in his elbow, which caused him to have his arm amputated. He was also diagnosed with lung cancer, which is said to be terminal. Now, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be given a date on your life, but I can imagine I would just lie about moping at home feeling sorry for myself.

Sixth months before the ride, John was given six to twelve months to live. He’s spent his time doing something he loves, and using it to set himself milestones to get to. Cycling can often be described as ‘leisurely’, but I believe for John it’s something that’s given him something to aim for. Due to his amputated arm, his bike, is actually a recumbent trike which is a lot harder to pedal up hills. So travelling from coast to coast in my opinion took true bravery.

FilmGrade’s involvement in this was to capture this story in the form of video, and from a filmmaking point of view… It was the biggest thing we’ve ever taken on. The ride lasted three days, but It felt like months. Not because it was in any shape or form ‘boring’. But because from waking up to going to sleep we had to be working. I quickly discovered that to make the story as powerful as i had found, the audience would have to see all that I had. This meant me having my camera on hand at all times, and always being ready to hit that record button.

Something else I had to learn how to do was interviewing. I have had a little bit if training in interviewing from Phillip Bloom’s course in London, which did help, but I found out that when it comes down to it the art of interviewing comes down to one single thing: Listening.

I don’t profess to be brilliant at it, anything but! But I would advice people to listen to the interviewee, be genuinely interested. As an interviewer it’s your job to keep them ticking over with conversation, you are a provoker. And with that you need to listen to them, see what matters to them, and work out how to get them to spill it. But please, don’t be a Piers Morgan. Do it with a bit of grace, with a bit of kindness even. They’re opening up to you in order for you to use their story to tell something greater, try and be a bit thankful!

Something I realised before the event was, that to be an effective cameraman and interviewer, audio was something I couldn’t afford to worry about. So I brought in a good friend of mine to entrust with sound, named Charlie. I’d worked with him before on a few jobs, and he just so happened to be in the same course as me back at college.

I’m going to write a few blog posts on some of the more technical challenges that we faced, and I believe Charlie is going to write a few himself, but I thought I’d introduce you to the story today.

More posts are to come soon, I’m currently restructuring the website (again!) so it might be next week before the next one.

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