Ragbrai is so vast, how on earth do we capture it? To tackle this dilemma, I adopted a notion I have always embraced–every moment is like a piece of a hologram containing within it the whole–meant that, we could cover a “piece” of each key element and it would reflect the whole. With this approach, things started looking somewhat more manageable. We would choose those “pieces of the hologram” or in some cases, they would choose us.
Producers Susie Gorrell and Talia Shakur-Rodriguez focused on narrowing down the list of riders. Steph Cambell, our head DP along with consultant Chris Blanch worked with me to narrow down sections of the 400 mile route that we would focus on based on beauty, clear passage, diversity of “look”, and unique interest (animals, barn, etc.). And I narrowed down what town elements and town people we would cover along with who we would cover to set the groundwork of the ride.
Here a list of the hologram pieces we collectively chose to focus on:
10 primary riders (5 of them where part of a team called Team Gnarley–we felt it was important to cover a team as well as individuals)
8 secondary secondary riders
20+ sections of road
9 various town “elements” including pie making, cement pouring, ballooning, light weight airplanes flyers, safety preparations, trains passing, hometown bands, etc.
5 or so towns’ spokes people
John Karras, co-founder Ragbrai
T.J. Juskiewicz, coordinator of Ragbrai
Unique & quirky people “catch as you can”
Tiny moments: a bird flying by, an insect landing on a flower
I conferred with our head DP Stephen Cambell who is stationed in Florida and was shooting on a feature during our prep. We determined that we would need and array of cameras strategically assigned. We would have three fully equipped camera units with camera crew, sound and a PA. We would have lipstick camera mounted on helmets, handle bars, and various other moving pieces. I thought it would be cool to give some of our subjects consumer cameras to document their own stories when we couldn’t be with them.
Our line producer Bernie Cassar struggled to bring all these pieces together within our budget, but I really felt this was the bare minimum we needed to get the kind of coverage we needed and Steve and I did our best to come up with cameras that would serve our needs and fit within the budget. We ended up with four different type of cameras all to be used for very distinct and specific purposes. The camera units would also be assigned distinct and specific purposes. And as it turned out, this was a fantastic strategy.