By Steve Medcroft
Gripped Films, the production company that released Off Road to Athens at the Sea Otter Classic in 2005, has just concluded filming of their next mountian-bike feature documentary; 24-Solo. For the project, the filmmakers followed multi-time 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo Championships winner Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) through the year shooting race footage, background and interviews.
Jason Berry, the film's producer and director, says they shot the final footage for the movie in and around the October 7th World Solo Championships in Conyers Georgia, where Eatough was upset by Australian marathon and 24-hour national champion Craig Gordon (see additional story below).
Berry says he's pleased with the raw material. "We got everything I wanted to get. Except for Chris Winning. But even that was okay because it was such a dramatic battle and the fact that Craig ended up in the hospital speaks to what it took to beat Chris."
Berry says the final film will cover Eatough's complete 2006 season. "We got about 100-hours worth of raw footage. The training aspect is covered. We did interviews (including Eatough's competitors, support staff, family and pioneers in the sport of 24 hour solo mountain biking; like John Stamstead) that will seperate it from typical bike porn; having Chris explain how important in was to him, having his manager talk about his training - things like that."
Berry rolled out a huge production effort for the final event, which will feature as the climax of the movie. "We had five cameras rolling almost 24 hours straight," he said. "We had cameras mounted on cables in certain sections of the course - one over a big ravine - which allowed us to get overhead footage of riders on their bikes. We had a boom crane over the finish se we could get right on top and right beside the finishers."
Berry managed to get inside the race action as well. "We had a steady cam (a special body-mounted camera that uses a gyro to offset the movement of the camera operator to provide smooth shots while the operator moves). "We would pick a very technical secton and literally run beside riders and get some interview stuff. We were able to get Chris and Craig on their bikes in the race."
Berry also mounted a helmet camera on a rider capable of holding pace with Eatough and Gordon. "We had that rider right behind Craig on his last lap, the one he didn't need to complete. When Craig physically broke down, our camera guy had to help him finish - carry him up a hill, put him on his bike and push him; Craig's body had completely locked up."
Berry says his company also made an arrangement with a high-definition night-vision optics manufacturer to capture nighttime racing action.
Berry says he will begin to edit the film, shot completely with high-definition video equipment, over the winter and plans to finish in time to premiere at the Sea Otter Classic in March, 2007.
For more information on the project or to view a trailer for the movie, see the production company's Web site at www.24-solo.com.