Assuming I’ve done this correctly, this is a link to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s most recent promotion that features some trash-talking to the Big C. I should know, since I’m one of the trash talkers featured.
Alpheus Media, which is a small production company in Austin, produced the video. I’ve worked with Alpheus in the past and think the world of them and their work. We traveled all over the state of Texas together and I got to observe them up close, at five in the morning, during thunderstorms and ice storms and heat waves. You really get to know people under circumstances like that.
These are people who hang out of moving van doors, shooting footage. They film from freeway overpasses, with traffic roaring past. They stand, up to their knees in freezing water, trying to get the story.
“Are these the most dangerous conditions you’ve ever worked under?” I asked them the day they were filming from the freeway overpass in Houston, with dump trucks whizzing past, and I was cowering inside the van, wondering how much life insurance would pay my family at my imminent death. They thought that was a really funny question — the kind you get from a writer who usually huddles over a computer and thinks her life is tough. “Not even close,” one of them said.
Working with them, I developed a real appreciation for what hard work it is to film a story. Everything has to be perfect — the lighting, the ambient sound, the spoken interview. You don’t have the luxury of the do-over a writer usually has. If I don’t quite get a quote, I can always call someone back; filming a do-over is an expensive, time-consuming, major production. You need to get it right the first time.
So, check out the video. It’s funny and raw and authentic. And it didn’t get that way by chance.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)