Video: ‘Self Portrait’ | A Self-Shot Mountain Bike Short Film
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Kona Ambassador Louis Citadelle is no stranger to doing things the hard way. Several years ago he burst onto the media scene with his self-filmed project, Why I Ride. It was picked up by most major media outlets for its stunning scenery, but also garnered a ton of attention because it was expertly shot and edited all by one person. Self-filmed edits aren’t new, but sharing the nuances behind that level of work is fairly rare. It’s an entirely different project on its own.
Louis is back with his second major self-filmed and edited project, aptly dubbed “Self-Portrait.”
“What gets me the most excited working on self-shot projects is the creative freedom I get from being in control of literally everything in it. The only restriction I had for Self-Portrait was simply how hard I was willing to work and how much time I was willing to put in. I was free to choose what trails I wanted to film on regardless of how far away they were, at what time of the day and in what weather I wanted to film in, how many attempts I could do for a single shot, and so much more. Being out there by myself doing what I love the most, riding bikes and making videos is also something very fulfilling for me. For this project in particular I really wanted to bring variety in the locations I rode my bike in, in order to showcase some beautiful landscapes and amazing trails that will hopefully get people excited to go out and ride.
It’s hard to say how much time went into the making of this film. This one started with a pen and some paper, where I wrote down all the segments I wanted to shoot and how they will all tie up together. I’d also make detailed shot lists of what I absolutely needed to capture while I was out filming every time I headed out. I would also go on scout days before filming to check out if the trail was suited to what I wanted to capture, what features were worth focusing on or not, and how the light behaved there. A filming day was on average 4-6 hours long, and I could come back with 40-50 seconds of usable footage just like I could come back with literally 1 shot as I did for the shot at the end of the introduction in the cave. I believe all of this easily adds up to 25-30 days in the field, spread out between end of August to mid-November. The editing process was relatively quick considering how much footage I filmed because I knew exactly how everything was going to piece together so I counted roughly 90 hours to do the edit, colour grading, sound design, and trailers. Oh and I almost forgot, I also spent a day building a short section of trail in a beautiful forest close to home just for this film.
Without a doubt, the most challenging part of this project was having to carry my fully loaded camera bag in all these stunning locations which weren’t always easily accessible. So much energy goes into simply getting to the trail, and then when on-site running up and down the hill to pick up my camera, tripod, and camera bag and then reposition everything. For example, the first 3 shots after the introduction where I ride down a symmetrical hill took me over an hour to film, even though they only last 6 seconds in the video. It definitely gets repetitive for sure, but it never gets in the way of how lucky I am to be doing this in such beautiful places.
If I had to give any advice to someone who wants to make a self-shot video, I would definitely say to take it step-by-step. It’s a much longer and tedious process compared to regular filming where there is a cameraman and rider, so the best thing you can do is embrace the process and take it shot by shot. It’s such a satisfying feeling to get home and see how everything you shot adds up together for sure. Since the camera can’t move I think it’s also very important to focus on the composition and lighting of each shot, because you can’t hide any little flaws behind motion blur. The most important advice I can give is to have fun with it all, and suddenly pushing up for a 6th attempt or lining up the 17th shot of the day becomes much more enjoyable and fulfilling!”
– Louis Citadelle