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Old 4 Jun 2011
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Would you make a motorcycle documentary if someone else paid for it?

Hey folks,

Let's say you had decided to take a few months off to travel on your bike, to the Sahara desert for example. Given two choices which one would you choose?

1. You do it on your own. You use your own money(which we assume you have) and do it entirely on your own terms, like so many on this forum do.

2. You manage to make an agreement with a TV station to make a documentary about it. They provide you with equipment and they or sponsors pay for the whole trip.
I say documentary and that of course means not just taking random shots whereever you are at the moment, but to write a rough script, do a lot of research, plan interviews, take care of lightning and sound, and all the other things that are needed to make a TV program interesting. But still it's just you. You don't have backup vehicles, fixers, translators, etc.

What are the technological/logistical/practical hurdles with option nr 2?

Here are my thougts on the two options:

Option nr 1: A great way to do it. You are doing it to please yourself, not others.

Option nr 2: When I travel, I like to take photographs, write blogs and so on, because I want to show the people at home how things in foreign countries look and work. I know thats a far cry from making a fully blown documentary, but still the underlying motive behind it is to present to others what I see. Also an obvious upside to this second option is that your wallet is not being affected, and we like that.

I think many will be tempted to say: First options nr2, then option nr1, since you still have the money. But lets say you had to choose either, which one would you choose?

I would take options nr2, I think.

P.S. I will also post this question on ADVrider, I think it will be interesting to compare the differences/similarities in the answers.
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Old 4 Jun 2011
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Circumstances have me do option #1 next year, riding from the US to Germany (going west). No sponsors, I can do and post in my blog as I please ...

For me, option #2 would be strictly a business preposition. I would take it on, if besides expenses, I would earn some money in the process. It would become time consuming, hard work, even if it is "riding a motorcycle" across continents.

Without knowing the expectation placed on film quality by the sponsor/employer, there is potentially the need for a film crew and back up vehicles for equipment and supplies.

@ OP: So, what's the deal? Is this a job interview...?

"Hey, ...I'm just ridin' shotgun"

Last edited by T.REX63; 4 Jun 2011 at 14:10.
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Old 4 Jun 2011
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The Ideal situation is option 1.

However id option 2 was on the table then i would definatley take it.

NOW who do i see about this documentary??
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Old 4 Jun 2011
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Another option?

What about option 3 where you start out doing option 1 and pick up the sponsored BMW/KTM and matching kit, sell it to somebody in London/Paris, buy a Japanese single and ride off into the sunset claiming that you have been kidnapped in the Sahara/living with a tribe in the Oromo/dog ate your master tape..?

Giz a job? I kin do that!
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Old 4 Jun 2011
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Be aware that, in option 2, you put a lot of pressure on yourself.
You loose the right to give it all up, the right to stop halfways even the right to small changes.

Especially when you get goods/money beforehand and you use them before the trip.

I even believe some people have died doing something they'd rather give up on, f.ex. Andrew Macauley (I don't have any evidence to this effect)

If you want to do it, get all the free help you can, get a script and what else you need, get an agreement with someone that they might buy it, ask them how they want it, do the trip and sell the documentary afterwards.

EDIT: There is at least one good reason for filming: As a photographer, I have found that I see things differently and also see more than many people, because I'm always looking for good motives which make you more aware of what is going on around you
May you enjoy peace and good health !

Last edited by pbekkerh; 6 Jun 2011 at 10:10.
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Old 5 Jun 2011
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hell yes
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Old 5 Jun 2011
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No doubt, option 1.

I do it to have a great time and an adventure. I don't see how 2) helps me in that respect.
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Old 5 Jun 2011
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I would go for option 2.
I allways make a trip report of my trips and another hobby is doing a newswebsite in our home town with photos and video and we (my sons and I) do sometimes make programs for local television.

I would love option 2 because
A) It's an interesting challenge to make a documentary in a different environment far from home.
B) I love to make photos and video and to share it with the world
C) Making an official documentary could open doors that otherwise be closed
D) It gives the trip a target to go for; Making the best travel documentary in the world !
E) It takes away the worries about money
Jan Krijtenburg

The bikes I ride are a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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Old 6 Jun 2011
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The big logistical issues in filming a documentary solo is getting shots of main character interacting with people - especially in cities or confrontational situations (which the TV shows love).

You also need to make sure you get LOTS of cut-scene shots - shots down the forks, swingarm, on board footage, scenery etc. And hold each shot longer than you would. Good tip is to count down ten seconds at the end of each thing you deem film-worthy - makes editing much easier.

We are looking at setting up constant rolling cameras with a ten or 15 minute cache for our pizza bike/Sahara epic. This way you roll your on-board/helmet camera the whole time and if anything noteworthy has just happened you store the cache, which writes the last 10 mins to solid state storage. Use solid state where possible because it is crash and water proof.
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Old 6 Jun 2011
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I think the essential difficulty here is that the two trips are not similar enough to be able to make a realistic comparison. Which is better? Which is more interesting? Are you more motivated by solo, unattached travel or are you fascinated by documentary making in its own right? It's a very personal choice.

And asking the question as an 'either/or' might seem like simplifying the question, but I think all it does is change the answer. Are you really saying that if you do the doc that means you absolutely cannot do a simpler 'no strings' tour a year or two later? Because that would definately change my answer.

If presented with this choice on the basis that it wouldn't be the last trip I'd ever do, I think I might go with number two, for one very good reason - I've already tried number one. I also doubt that anyone will ever ask me to make a film about anything I am likely to do - so the opportunity would be jumped at!

However, if I was told I had six months to live and time for one last trip - it would definitely be number 1!



*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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Old 7 Jun 2011
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I'd certainly go for option 2. I've done enough trips to know that for me it's a big help to have a purpose to the trip. Just pointing south and seeing what happens tends to result in a fairly superficial trip where I just end up taking a succession of easy options - usually for financial or schedule reasons. With a reason for taking the road less travelled I'd be forced to put the effort in. Whenever I've had to do that in the past it usually becomes one of the more memorable trips.

Photography and video is how I earn my living and something it's hard to do well without having it in your blood. Often the difference between an average and a good picture is how committed you are to it - will I come back at midnight / dawn when the light is right or is a snap at noon all I can be bothered to do? With a reason to get it right I'd be much more likely to put the effort in - go and find someone to let me into a building rather than just look at it from the outside etc. Not only would I have the photographs and video at the end, I would have enjoyed the trip itself much more.

Just trying to buy a new video camera for a trip to the US next month atm. Not much biking mileage in it (other than the person I'll be staying with has about 30 bikes in his barn) but the pictures / video will be a core part of it.
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Old 18 Jul 2011
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I'd do 2, but I'm shit with a camera (and no one has offered). There's lots of times where I wish I had something to do when I'm traveling. If I was making a documentary, it'd give a different experience. I don't know if that would be good or bad. It'd also kick my ass into gear when I'm looking for old bikes. Just gawking but if I run across a Brough or a Vincent, I'd want to ship it home.
Not Ted Simon since 1970!
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Old 18 Jul 2011
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Seeing how as I want to do Option 1 but can't seem to scrape the money together, heck yeah I'd be willing to do Option 2!
Bruce Clarke --- 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R (black)
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Old 8 Sep 2011
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Documentary about what?

Resurrecting this thread from another perspective....

The original question presented two mutually-exclusive options: 1) a completely self-funded and unrecorded journey; and 2) a sponsored/paid journey specifically to make a TV documentary.

There could be (and very often is) a third option between the two extremes where the journey is largely self-funded, but has some sort of sponsorship support (equipment, money, etc.) as well, and where the intention is to document the experience along the way. Not necessarily a full-blown TV documentary, but perhaps a short film, a book, or even just a blog.

Sticking with the 'documentary' example, there's a question that hasn't been asked yet...

If you were going to undertake a journey in order to make a documentary, what story would you want to tell?
Iain Harper
The Ted Simon Foundation
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Old 8 Sep 2011
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I'd want it to be a human interest story, the people you meet, their history and their 'story'.

'look how hardcore the off-road riding is' would make for great cut scenes but I imagine it would get very 'samey' for a while. Look at the videos people post that are just ten minutes of dash or helmet-mounted camera. The viewer loses interest after a few minutes unless something really bizarre happens.

The problem with filming from the bike is you'd need the camera running constantly to catch everything and most of it would be yawn yawn yawn...

A few years ago (well, over a decade I guess) a friend of mine was filming Peregrine Falcons in the Dolomites. They ran a camera with a ten minute cache on in. That way they could run the camera constantly and if something happened they could hit the button - it would then save the last ten minutes and carry on filming from there. This would be really useful but I haven't seen it as an option on any of the HD small cameras like the Contour/GoPro etc.
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