It took me a moment to regain my thoughts, you’re jumping over that? A bar which towered over my head. It seemed more like a pull up bar then something you would jump over. I was clueless. When Mike Edwards skipped and bounced over the bar, I was floored and really couldn’t believe what I just saw.
I had never really gotten into track and field much, the only time I would watch would be every four years at the Olympic Games and high jump was one of those events that I would simply skim over. It all looks too easy on TV and I never really understood how high that bar really is. Nearly 8 feet off the ground. It didn’t hit me until I saw that height in person.
I had worked with Mike on two different occasions, both for fashion shoots. Not only is Mike a model, but a fantastic athlete. Mike being from England, I was immediately attracted to his story and how he came to be in Louisville. I quickly realized, it was nearly impossible to nail the guy down. He would be in Europe one moment, Florida then New York the next. Who Is Mike Edwards?
After our second shoot, we briefly talked about his goals, sports career and scholarship to Louisville. In the same conversation I mentioned I had always wanted to do a short sports documentary, something you would see in the lead-ins for the Olympics, but more personable and dramatic. Not some big budget NBC interview. We mulled it over and then said our goodbyes as he would be travelling overseas to Europe for the next few weeks.
A couple of weeks later I received a call from Mike asking about that conversation we had and really pursuing the short documentary. He would be leaving for a competition in Europe again and only had a small window of time to get it knocked out. Simply a passion project, it would all be pro-bono. After a brief consideration, I was in, I only saw opportunity there. We set a shoot date.
I had shots planned and ideas in my head, but would go into the filming without any sense of direction. Only thing I had to reference was a 5 minute Asics commercial I had found. The commercial was somber and well done, but not inspiring. I needed the all of the above, the total package.
I had just 5 hours with Mike and then he was flying out for the 3 weeks. When we arrived on the UofL campus, I didn’t know where to start. I felt rushed. The weather was dreary and the sun wasn't peering through clouds like I wanted. Upon parking we walked over to a stair case and just started shooting. Again, without a set plan, I just wanted to get things moving.
We jumped from location to location and just filmed sequences of him walking, sitting and doing normal everyday stuff. Around that time is when the story came to life. Let’s break it down and show a normal practice routine. From everyday life and warm-ups to closing with the actual jump. But the inspiration would come from an overdubbed speech.
I still wasn't sold on the footage I was getting, it seemed boring and continuity issues were everywhere. But, with a solid narrative in mind, I could get a grip on my shots and start working on a direction. I decided to amp up the footage, we would need to move off campus and we did just that. We drove over to the Louisville Skate Park to grab some candids and close-ups. Then moved downtown to 4th Street Live! to grab the opening sequence. Like always, we recieved a few gawkers asking to be in our apparent “rap video”.
We returned to the University campus to start shooting all the warm-ups and jumps. At this point, I just let Mike do his thing. No pre-prepared shots. Dress change, warm-up and jump. Documentary style I would be filming the entire process. Fortunately, the sun had started to peak through the clouds and I was a happy camper. But, I was also drenched in sweat, the air was humid and filming Mike’s every move it only got worse.
Despite the heat, we pushed through and knocked out some incredible sequences. Mike was gracious enough to jump more than the 3 set standard for shooting purposes. As the sun was set we grabbed a few final closing shots and wrapped up the shoot 10 minutes over our 5 hour target. We headed back into the locker room where we decided to go ahead and record the audio.
In the past, I've actually had more luck using an iPhone and the Voice Memo app to record spoken word speech then I have any other professional system. It has its faults, but it in a rush there is nothing that can match it. I asked Mike a series of questions and off the cuff Mike recorded nearly 15 minutes worth of audio. Some sections were good, others not so good, but I would have to make sense of it in post production.
After all hauling all my gear, running around and laying on the ground all day, we scanned through my shots. I beyond excited to start splicing the video.
Sure enough, I was too excited. Instead of maintaining my original plans of meeting friends for drinks, I decided to stay in and edit the entire film that same Friday evening. I really pushed myself on this project, tried new techniques and new software. By late Friday evening I had something pieced together that I could call my own. By Saturday afternoon I had it rendered, uploaded and sent off to Mike. He loved it.
Months in the making, between his travels to Europe, Florida and New York we were able to create this featurette that I couldn’t be more proud of. I have a complete new appreciation for the athletes that work everyday towards their ultimate goal and I truly hope that this piece surges Mike’s path to Rio De Janeiro in the 2016 Olympic Games. Enjoy.