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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Trouble With Filming Things for A Living

Everyone thinks that doing what I do for a living is the greatest job in the world. But I’m here to tell you while it does have some incredible benefits, it also has some pretty disturbing drawbacks.

Right now I’m getting things ready for the coming cold weather. For those of you that live any place other than the southwest, you know the routine. Put the mowers and weed-eaters away and pull out the snow blower and wood-splitter. Put the convertible in the back corner of the shop and pull out the old ‘beater’ 4wd. And pull the weed sprayer from the back of the ATV and bolt on the snow plow.

That is what brings me to the trouble with filming things for a living. Before I put the plow on I want to change the winch cable to a nice new synthetic rope. You know, one season of using the cable on the plow and I wouldn’t want to touch it with two pair of gloves. Snow plows require a 90-degree movement of the cable – over and over again using only about 4 inches of the cable. So unless you happen to have a Montana Jack’s winch rotator, the only long-term solution is the installation of a synthetic rope.

I try to run rope on all my winches, but the one that needed it the most is the one that doesn’t have it. So, you’d think I’d just go out to the shop and put it on. I mean I have a great shop and all the right tools – including a wrench, drill, and radio that gets Rush Limbaugh – most of the time ;-)

Well, here’s why it’s not done yet. I want to film the installation for a video. That means the lights have to be set up. The background has to be right. I mean you don’t really want to film a winch cable install with a Miata in the background. Or an FJ80 sitting on jack stands either. I have to have the right clothes on. You know, something other than my ‘real’ work pants and sweaty hair that has had a cap on it all day. Of course I also have to have a plan so that when we film it, it doesn’t have to take all day to film and another day to edit it to make it look like we knew what we were doing ;-)

Perhaps that sounds like a lot of whining, but you really can’t make something look good if you just film the installation as you would normally do it in your garage. In the evening. After a few beers. Otherwise it would look just like you doing it in your garage after a few beers. No offense.

But that’s not even the worst part of filming. When we film adventures it takes all of the fun out of riding. We stop too much. We do things too many times. We even back down the trail over and over again so we can film with different something-or-anothers. One person that went with us said he’d never backed up so much in his life. Another, who went with us on one day’s ride, suddenly had septic lines to work on the next day. Now that’s pretty bad when we lose out to septic lines….

And you know, I should have known. I remember many years ago (could it actually have been 1988!) when I was asked to use my recently rebuilt Meyers Tow’d in a movie! Wow! What a great thing. I asked my daughter, who at the time was about 8 (or so I think) if she wanted to go along to watch a movie being filmed. She only thought about it for a second before she answered, “Naw, it’s Friday and they’re having ice cream at school that day.”

She was the only one that knew not to be involved with anything video without having to be a part of it even once!

It took me a little longer…


  1. Doug

    I really can appreciate the effort it takes for you to put together a segment on your show; as a viewer I can really enjoy a can of beer while watching your show :-).
    Someday I would like to take a ride with you and your crew to get the experience of what you do to make the magic for everyone to enjoy.

    I’m one viewer that watches all your shows and take notes for the information that you provide.

    You and your show is the only show that deals with ATV and ATV trials, keep up the good work as I will keep watching.


  2. "Keep up the good work and I'll keep watching." Wow! No pressure there Jeff ;-)

    Actually it's not that we do such good work, you just happen to agree with us.

    All seriousness aside - thanks.

    Oh, and you really should drink beer from a glass ;-)