I recently learned that some friends will be competing in the 2019 Race Across America (RAAM). This is a 3000 mile bicycle race starting in Oceanside CA and finishing in Annapolis MD. In 2012 I made a documentary film of four 50+ years old female racers and twelve crew members called Love Sweat & Gears. It was a once in a life time opportunity that I just could not pass up. (see blog post Opportunities Rarely Come Twice)
The original film was completed in March 2013 and received over 15,000 views in the 2 years it was posted on YouTube. Due to changing email accounts, I removed it from the internet. In learning about my friends plans to race in the 2019 RAAM I have re-posted the film. Love Sweat & Gears – A Documentary Film by Jim Harper
As you watch the film, keep in mind that this was my first full length film where I handled all the roles in making the film. I was the cinematographer, editor, director, producer, audio, colorist, etc. Far too many roles for one person, but like RAAM, I met the challenge with gusto! I am very pleased with it, but certainly a more collaborative effort would have helped.
I approached the film as a photographer, and to that end I am very pleased with images, and timing of film. I loved not knowing what was coming next. You could not. This was a live race. You couldn’t ask the racers to wait so you could compose the shot better, or redo a scene. Nope. I had to flow with the action. I had to keep filming until the action was completely over. Sometimes that meant holding the camera for 5 to 10 minutes. It also meant that as I am filming my mind was making mental notes how I would edit the final film.
My filming days were about waking up before dawn to catch the team as their day began or continued. Film all day moving ahead of the racers to find good location to film them as they passed. Or shooting out the doors and windows of my van as we drove pass them. At sunset, since there was no more light, I would drive head of the team by 8 race hours to download the day’s footage to multiple hard-drives for safe keeping. That process took 2 to 3 hours, leaving my 3 to 4 hours for sleep before doing it all over again. It was exhausting and mesmerizing at the same time.
As a racer or crew; watch the bicycle exchanges, some were good while others were not efficient. Watch how the crew were all working on their tasks. It takes focus from everyone to have a safe and fun adventure. RAAM is not a ride in the park. Many have said they used my film to prepare for RAAM because it shows the good and the strain that occurs during the race. I’m open to sitting down with any team to share what I saw during the race.
You can watch my documentary by following the link below. Please share it. Thank you