2 degrees of Melbourne – Episode 1: Andy White

A while back I wrote a blog about how this year I was going to focus on being more creative. It turns out that living with your parents while your house is being renovated, and then moving back in to the aforementioned house, leaves very little scope for creativity. But we have been back in our house for about 6 weeks now, and I have just finished my first real creative project…and I’m really happy with how it has come out.

The idea

I love Melbourne, and I love hearing people’s stories…so one of the big projects I wanted to embark on this year was to interview some Melbourne people who I admire and create a series of short videos. Basically to talk about my home city, via the people who I think make it great. In theory this is very doable…but in reality, people who are worth interviewing and making videos of, often have better things to do with their time than talk to you for a video that they are not getting paid for.
So it was with a fair degree of trepidation that I approached my first potential interviewee, Andy White (of Fyxomatosis fame). I put off writing to him for about two weeks, then I spent an hour or so crafting the perfect email, then I spent the next 12 hours preparing contingency plans for the inevitable rejection. So it’s fair to say that when he replied with ‘Sure. When/Where?’, I was both surprised and overjoyed…not to mention impressed with his brevity.
But once you have someone who has agreed to be interviewed, you then have to prepare for the interview. You have to make sure you have all the gear that you need. Most importantly, you have to believe that you are going to create something that your interviewee will be happy with, so that the next time they see you they don’t start screaming ‘You!’ and throwing things at you.

The filming of the interview

Andy was happy to come to my house for the filming, so at least I knew we would be able to get some good light…and if we used one of our new ‘Of course your happiness is my prime concern darling…wait, HOW MUCH?!!!’ chairs I might be able to claim them as a tax deduction. I used a roll of white paper as the background (I gave a guy my mountain bike when he was looking at getting back into cycling and he repaid me with reams of white paper, which make an awesome background for filming or photography) and I shot it all on my Canon 550D and my iPhone 4 (I used a Zoom H2 for the audio).
Any concerns I had about whether I would get enough good stuff to edit with were assuaged within the first 3 minutes. Andy is a dream interviewee, he was relaxed, fearless and best of all, engaging.
After 40 minutes of interview, the sensor on my camera was starting to overheat…and Xavier had returned to wreak havoc on my film set, so we called it a day.

The edit

As I said, the interview went for 40 minutes. Normally my first cut (where you get rid of all of the stuff you know you won’t be able to use) would whittle this down to about 10-15 minutes…then I would begin the tricky job of cutting it back to 3-5 minutes. But when I got rid of all of the guff from Andy’s interview I still had 30 minutes of footage…pretty much his entire interview was great! Which is great if you’re producing a half hour doco…but when you’re producing a 3-5 minute video for the web, it’s a freaking nightmare.
I was eventually brutal enough and cut it down to 5’30″(but there was some great stuff I’ll have to find another use for!), added some photos and footage that I had (and two that I got from Andy), wrote the music track in GarageBand…and the end result goes a little something like this…

or for the Vimeo fans

2 Degrees of Melbourne – Andy White from 2 Degrees of Separation on Vimeo.

So there we have it, the ‘Year of creativity’ is finally underway…my next interview targets are Richard Gill, Danny Collis and Hanna Assifiri. So if any of you have any good contacts with them, please let me know.

A big thanks

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Andy very much for taking the time, being such a great interviewee and most of all for running the best bike ride I’ve ever done, The Melburn Roobaix.



The Melburn-Roobaix

If, as the result of some bizarre gypsy curse, I was only able to watch one bike race per year- it would be the Paris-Roubaix. For the non-cycling tragics reading this, the Paris-Roubaix is a one-day 250km bike race through the Northern part of France. What sets is apart from so many other bike races are the numerous cobblestones sections. These cobblestones destroy bikes, they jar every bone in the riders bodies, in the wet they are slippery and treacherous…in the dry, the dust makes them slippery and treacherous.  It’s affectionately known as the ‘hell of the North’. To see what I’m talking about just type ‘Paris-Roubaix’ into YouTube…or look at the awesome photos from O’nev or Kristof Ramon

If, as a result of having 3 children and a complete lack of fitness, I could only do one bike ride per year- it would be the Melburn-Roobaix. The Melburn-Roobaix is the brain-child of the indefatigable Andy White. It’s a one day bike ride that varies from about 25kms to 40kms and meanders around Melbourne, taking in as many of cobblestone lane-ways as possible. At the end of each lane-way there is a question for you to answer. It’s sort of like the friendliest alley cat ever…but it’s not a race, it’s open to everyone…and it is the best fun you can have on a bike.

My initiation to the Melburn-Roobaix was 4 years ago when a friend invited me along. As a result of a technical issue, I completely missed the start and my friend headed off with the main group. So I was now doing a race that I had no idea about and no-one to talk to. I was about to just head home and chalk it up as a waste of a Sunday, when I recognised a guy who I had chatted to briefly on the ride to the start. We got chatting, and he introduced me to some other people and pretty soon I was racing around the streets of Nth. Melbourne with a variety of groups of people who clearly didn’t know where they were going…but were having a hell of a lot of fun getting there. We ran upstairs with our bikes, we rode alongside the drains, I watched a guy casually do a wheelie for about 4 minutes and I discovered numerous parts of Melbourne I had never seen before. Best of all I had the best fun I’d had in years.

I rode again the next year, and it was just as much fun. So the year after that I invited my best mate along and we hired some BikeShare bikes and did the ride on those. What the BikeShare bikes lacked in agility, handling, and lightweight materials…they more than made up for in overall indestructability. Yes it was like riding an armchair…but it was someone else’s armchair..and the wheels weren’t going cost you $500 if they were damaged.

This year, my 6 yr old son came with me. I was a little nervous about how he would find riding with so many people, riding such a long distance and of course riding on the cobblestones. But those fears were unfounded. While we didn’t do the full 38km (I’ll leave the Koppenberg for him to discover next year), we had an absolutely brilliant time…and I look forward to Josh repeating Stuey O’Grady’s heroics in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix sometime. But the best part of the whole day was how many people took the time to tell him how well he was doing, and what a great effort it was to be doing the ride. He spent the whole afternoon after the race feeling 10ft tall and bullet proof and perhaps more importantly he went to sleep early (tired but happy).

For him the idea of a group of people getting together to just have fun, probably isn’t that foreign…kids do it all the time. But as we get older, we tend to look for the competitive side of things instead of working together for no reward other than fun, we don’t want to spend a day chatting to random strangers because frankly that’s just weird, we don’t want to spend hours with people dressed as ninjas or riding unicycles…because…well…they’re dressed as ninjas or riding unicycles. Most importantly in a world where we can ride road bikes, mountain bikes, fixies, single speeds, BMXs and cruisers. And where we can spend as much money on a bike as we would on a small car…we can forget why we love riding in the first place…because IT’S FUN! The Melburn-Roobaix is my annual reminder of just how rewarding life can be if we get together with a group of people with the sole purpose of having fun. That’s why I hope to be doing it for many years to come.

I’d like to say a massive thanks to Andy for organising the ride. I shudder to think how much time and effort goes into putting it all together, but I hope he gets as much out of it as we all do.
If you’re interested in doing the ride next year then head to Fxyomatosis and entertain yourself with great stories and photos until registration for next year’s ride opens…and then hopefully I’ll see you for ‘the Hell of the Northcote’!

See a few of my photos from the day here