After the location scouts, the investigations of the riders and intense research, including watching user clips on youtube, digging into the Ragbrai website, connecting with past riders on Facebook and reading a book called “Ragbrai: Everyone Pronounces It Wrong” written by John Karras one of the founders of Ragbrai, I started to envision what elements we need to capture to create a rounded and complete portrait of Ragbrai. Narrowed it down? Well sort of.
I decided that Ragbrai is an alchemical concoction–that the magic of the ride results from the combination of the rides unique aspects. So, in order to truly capture Ragbrai we would have to capture these aspects combining to give our audience a taste of the magic.
It seemed to me that the elements of the magical potion that creates Ragbrai are:
Bicycles, up to 20,000 of them.
Iowa, the actual physical ride extending over 400 miles across the state of Iowa
Iowa, the small towns, 9 host towns and over 20 along the way
Iowa, the small town folk, 100′s of them
Bike riders from all parts of the country and world up for an getaway adventure, up to 20,000 of them
The support folk, vendors, bike shops, musical acts, volunteers, police, medics, etc., I don’t know… thousands?
I share my alchemical notion with my producers and with the documentary’s investor. Everyone agreed with this approach. Great. They like it. Phew. Now, back to earth. How do cover all of this? It’s pretty vast. And it’s a moving target. And it’s non-stop 24 hours a day. And there some insanely crazy challenges like:
No motorized vehicles on the road.
Insane sound hurdles (Have you ever been in a crowd of thousands, closed your eyes and listened?)
Multiple subjects, doing different things, in different places, simultaneously.
Long lines everywhere especially for everything including food and bathrooms.
Limited sleeping accommodations.
Crew size determined by modest documentary budget.
Equipment determined by modest documentary budget.
So how do we do this maximizing potential for success?