Veteran mountain bike storyteller Richie Schley on the present and future of sport documentation.
In its second year, the GoPro Dirt Diaries is a video contest between six mountain bike athletes. Each rider partners with a videographer to create a 4 to 6-minute video. Teams had seven weeks to prepare their moving image story before each entry was screened in front of a live audience and an expert panel of judges at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza during Crankworx.
An experienced blend of artists and athletes entered this year’s contest -- all vying for the $5,000 first-place prize; and the consolations of $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third.
...this isn’t a riding contest; it’s not Rampage.
We caught up with this year’s winner Richie Schley to discuss digital storytelling, his contest entry and the future of video and photo contests...
Red Bull: You and your film partner, Leo Zuckerman, beat out a lot of young heavy-hitting riders and talented filmers -- how'd you do it?
Richie Schley: The first thing people confuse -- this isn’t a riding contest; it’s not Rampage. You’re supposed to tell a story and make it entertaining for people. Both Leo and I understood that.
Dirt Diaries is a sort of moving image version of Deep Summer (View Duncan Philpott's awesome photos above). You’ve competed in both – what’s the difference?
Actually, they’re very similar. In one sense, the video medium is more difficult; everything you do has to be perfect. But still images can be hard, as well, simply because you have to fill the slideshow with so many “moments.” With a video, every moment takes up more room in the story. So I almost feel like video is easier.
As a pioneer of the sport, you’ve shown mountain biking to the world through many mediums -- in print, on film and now digitally. How has the evolution of presentation mediums evolved the craft of storytelling?
Actually, it feels like it's gone full circle. I’m not sure if Leo realized this, but during the contest I found we began reverting back to more old school, early-day shooting techniques.
We wanted to create a mood that might provoke a different emotion.
Producers went away from that sort of look for awhile and for whatever reason -- slow-mo is too this or too that or because they simply saw it too much. But using really tight, close-up, emotional, slow-mo shots became the staple, or staples, that held everything together -- along with some camera movement and technology. We wanted to create a mood that might provoke a different emotion.
Maybe since people haven’t really seen that style for a while is what made our piece exciting.
What was your strategy headed into the woods to begin capturing images?
For one, we shot only with perfect light. I think a lot of teams were in a panic to just get out there and get a ton of rad shit. I think if you focus on good shit, it’s better.
What is the future of digital media contests?
I don’t know, it’s really wide open. I think it’s cool these contests exist because everyone can present their own take on the content. Like, all the contest videos were entertaining, but from a technical or entertainment perspective Leo’s submission was the most convincing…
Video is easily digestible. You don’t have to think, it’s like TV.
But right now, it seems everyone wants to see video more than stills. Video is easily digestible. It’s more entertaining. You don’t have to think, it’s like TV.
The filming process for each team can be tracked throughout their adventures in June and July by checking out @GoPro #DirtDiaries on Instagram, the Crankworx Dirt Diaries page or the Crankworx Facebook page.