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Behind THE Barriers Director’s Cut: Capturing the moment

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published Nov. 15, 2012

Sam Smith, on capturing the moment:

During the latest episode, there is a scene where we were leaving a nice dinner in Tabor, Czech Republic. It’s the night before the World Cup. We ended up in a long chat with a very drunk Belgian cyclocross fan outside a nearby bar. He was unaware of who Jeremy was, so Jeremy acted ignorant and pretended to be oblivious to the existence of cyclocross.

“Is it like rowing?” he asked the guy. “No!” the man answered. “It’s cycling!” All of his fellow Belgian supporters crowded around, watching the heated conversation. We all hung around for a while. We even went into the bar from which they have all been spilling out. All the while, no one recognized Jeremy or acknowledged him as a cyclocross racer. They thought we were traveling businessmen, because that’s what Jeremy told them.

It all made for a funny, exciting scene and we were all on our way out of the bar smiling. I put the camera to my side, thinking I had captured the moment sufficiently. But just as Jeremy was passing through the front door, an old Belgian man grabbed him by the arm and said, “See you in the second group tomorrow,” and backed into the bar with a wink.

If I had captured this tiny bit of footage it would have made this great scene even greater. It would have a real punch line. This is one of the problems with making a show like this, or being a documentarian, or being an event videographer, or doing any non-fiction work. You’re always left thinking, “I could have gotten that better,” or, “If I only pressed record five seconds earlier…” or, “I wish my camera was turned 30 degrees to the left for that shot.” It’s the stuff that will drive you insane if you are always thinking about it, unless you decide to just not care. You do your best in the moment and then not give a crap 10 seconds later. This idea helps me mentally in regard to my camera work. Just stop caring. Just move on. Yeah, I blew it, but can’t do anything about it. What’s next?

There are occasionally times when I decide to just leave the camera behind. I’ll just want a break from it. Sometimes it gets a bit exhausting to always be shooting, or to be constantly making the decision to shoot or not to shoot. Sometimes I regret it later, but sometimes I’m glad I didn’t have the burden of that decision, like the recent night in Prague when we encountered a naked waitress. I was glad the camera was left at the hotel that night.

It was during the week after Tabor. We were staying a bit outside of downtown at a quiet hotel that had a restaurant just next door. On a low-key night, a few of us went next door to grab a late night dinner. The place was cool. It seemed like a place that blue-collar guys went after work to have a few pilsners with their bros. There were painters, construction workers and firemen still in their work clothes. There was a big screen with a soccer game on at the end of the large open room. It was well lit with old chandeliers and the walls were lined with mounted antlers and various other taxidermy. The wait staff were all wearing red polo shirts with the restaurant’s name on them.

Something was off, though. One of the staff wasn’t wearing the polo shirt. She was dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model that left the top half of her outfit backstage, but was sent out on the runway anyway. I was bewildered. I had never seen anything like this, and I couldn’t figure it out. Was a bell going to sound, and music start blasting, and then she’ll jump up on a table and do a baton twirling act? Fire breath? Sword swallow? Are they actually doing a Victoria’s Secret shoot in the back room, and she just came up here to get a drink?

Nope, turns out she was there to run beers to the tables. Everybody else in there didn’t bat an eye, and we never found out why she was naked.

It was a moment that would have been ruined by my camera. Just having it with me would have made me feel uncomfortable. But that’s all part of trying to capture the moment.

Sam

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