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Francois Carrier Deziel’s video of cycling through China may have hit on the perfect formula for filming a bicycle tour.
1. Capture amazing scenery.

Whether it’s a sweeping landscape or a closeup of local cuisine simmering over a flame, quality footage that gives a sense of place is crucial. After an intense climb up a mountain pass, it might feel impossible to dig your camera out of a carefully packed pannier, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.

2. Don’t gloss over the practicalities.

Some people might argue that presenting a time-lapse of bicycle assembly is trite, but I love it. Filming yourself putting together your bike in a crowded airport or cramped hotel room gives that ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the complexities of cycle touring. Making it a time-lapse means it’s dynamic to watch, moving the viewer on to the actual tour quickly. Oh, and capturing the taxi ride, stuffed in the backseat with your massive bike boxes, is killer time-lapse material.

3. Consider your soundtrack.

Setting all this great footage to a kick-ass soundtrack is a must. Deziel’s music selection gives his video a slow but driving vibe that reminds me of the low-mileage, high-intensity feel of a bicycle journey. Of course, these tracks wouldn’t fit the feel of the 300+ miles per day of the Race Across America, so if you’re engaging in this type of bad-assery, make sure your choice of music reflects that.

4. Diversify the focus.

One of the things that makes Deziel’s video is that he points the camera out instead of in. He includes footage of himself and his riding partner only where it’s needed to tell the story (pushing a loaded touring bike through the mud, skitching a ride up a mountain by holding onto the back of a truck). The rest of the time, he’s focused on the places and people they’re interacting with. If we wanted to see some sweaty bastard gripping a pair of handlebars, we’d watch the Tour de France.

5. Participate.

I love Deziel’s willingness to get right in the middle of things. Shots like the overhead of the men playing a game reveal cultural temporality. When you’re riding a bike, you’re not separated from people or places by a metal box. Get closer. Interact. Filming these clips may be harder than shooting the basic landscape, but when I get involved with what the locals are doing, I meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise. My video is better, and so is my travel experience.

CyclingTravel Filmmaking Tips


About The Author

Eric Warren

Frequent Matador Contributor Eric Warren has lived in various Montana locales including Missoula, Big Sky, Bozeman, and Billings, for 25 years.

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