After discussions and interviews with past Ragbrai participants, it became clear that it would be important for us to capture the conversations and unique interactions that took place along the route between the town stops. But how do we shoot the fast moving bikers without using a motorized vehicle? We came up with all sorts of ideas: importing a rickshaw, backwards seat on a tandem bike, a modified child’s trailer, a modified bike cargo trailer, a modified bike trailer for the disabled, etc. For a short while, the vote was in for the modified cargo trailer, but ultimately we realized that riding on the cargo trailer for over 200 miles would be too harsh for the camera operator who would end up either injured or simply unable to endure the hardship of such a makeshift trailer. So our Producer, Talia Shakur-Rodriguez asked her father (who designs satellites) to design a trailer for us. He came through and a lightweight trailer to be towed by tandem bikers was custom built in Iowa.
I chose Cinematographer Mario Signore to shoot off the trailer. Chris Blanch had recommended Mario who was known for hanging off moving vehicles to get a great shot. Mario is also light and flexible so he as well suited to this kind of challenge. In addition to using the trailer to get shots on the route, we mounted lipstick cameras on our subject’s bike handles and helmets. We also got permission to shoot off of emergency vehicles which were allowed on the route, golf carts allowed on the route and even a gator or two.
All the effort to secure footage on along the route paid off. We’ve got loads of running footage, chats, dynamic visuals along the 400+ mile route and it’ll serve us well as we dive into our cut.