Mid January this year, a press release went out that Neely Gracey would not be competing in the Olympic Trials Marathon and instead be making her debut at the Boston Marathon. By then I already had my flight to Denver and a couple grand in video equipment waiting for me at the Superior, Co local UPS Store from Borrow Lenses. I originally planned the trip to create a series of images and to shoot a video of her buildup to her first Olympic Trails run but the refocus was going to be her buildup to Boston.
The goal was to create a body of work, in conjunction with the images I’ve shot of Robby Andrews to knock on the door of Adidas and share with them both galleries. I also wanted to try to see if I could create a video of her story to share on social.
Neely and Dillion (her husband) were gracious enough to open up their home for two days. Those two days also included some amazing cooking by Neely (check it out). In two days, she has two run scheduled with training partners and a gym sesh. We also planned to head out after her workout to get some images at Chataqua, in the mountains and on a trail outside her community. I really challenged myself to create both a video and series of images in that time.
Let me tell you firsthand that being out of shape and riding a bike for 8 miles while holding a Sony FS700 in 23 degree weather at elevation…while trying to maintain focus…. while hitting the start and stop button to shoot in 120 fps…while trying to match her pace… while trying not to hit other runners… (you get the point) may have been the most technically challenge thing I’ve done. Despite calling around local bike shops for the weeks leading up, I was unable to find someone or something that I could ride shotgun in that would be smooth enough for me to be able to get the shot. Coincidently, while filming I rode by I guy who would’ve been perfect. He was MOVING on this bike that had a front carriage with a boombox strapped to it. It was legit large enough to carry a grown man. Was hoping I could catch him to get him to film me but fate (my lungs) decided otherwise.
The neat thing about the FS700 is that it can film in Full HD at either 120fps or 24fps and then mixes if down into whatever frame rate of a file you choose. It eliminates having to mess around with multiple frame rates when editing in post. The tough part is it can only film that in 8 second bursts and then it takes about 15-20 seconds to write that file on the card. I was hoping it would be stable enough since I could be on a bike. The problem was having to push the button requires me to lift that hand off the handlebar, move the camera to the hand on the other side to be able to press the button while training to maintain speed. Then getting the camera to frame the shot within that 8 seconds. Check the video out below to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.
Being a one man crew and crashing my drone into a tree branch the first day of shooting were technical challenges that really helped me grow as a creative and pushed me to my limits in what I could do. I always get excited to put myself in these situations where I have to really step up, think outside the box and make things happen. At the end of the day, this is what defines us as creatives. No budget is going to make up for a lack of experience and problem solving skills. After all, I feel it’s what we creatives do best and one of our best skills to continue to refine.