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The MI.com Interview With Barry Munsterteiger on the Making of His Motorcycle Epic Escapism

This staggering short film was created by Barry Munsterteiger and a team of motorcycle enthusiasts and filmmakers and it includes footage  of Munsterteiger himself riding a new Ducati 1198.  The video starts starts out early in the morning in the always photogenic San Francisco and proceeds out in the country.

Munsterteiger was kind enough to take time for an interview about the making of Escapism, his homage to motorcycling.

MI.com: Hi Barry, thanks for taking the time for this and once again, loved the film…What bikes do you own and ride?

Right now I have a 2002 Honda VFR and the 2011 Ducati 1198SP featured in the film.

MI.com: How big was your crew? Any shoutouts you’d like to make?

For the day we shot the running footage we had a crew of 8.  We had a lead car, the camera truck, me riding and a chase car towing a trailer. For the stuff inside the garage/alley it was just 5 of us.  Then a group of 4 went out to get an evening of pick up POV shots that we weren’t able to get on the first day of running footage.

MI.com: What equipment did you use to make the film? DSLR? Trucks? Dollies?

The main camera car was a newly built system based on a Dodge Sprinter that has been painted matte black. It sports a fully adjustable air ride mast to support any type of camera. Colin Ducey (http://duceyproductions.com/) has worked on many car commercials in his career but has always wanted a better system for capturing the footage.  He decided that,  to get what he wanted,  he’d need to build it himself, so he did.

For the majority of the running footage we were using a Cineflex 14 HD system. This is the same camera that you would normally find attached to the front of a news helicopter.  Tom Miller from Blue Sky Aerials (http://blueskyaerials.com/) was our operator for the day.  For the pick up shots, we used a Panasonic AF100 mounted to a gyro stabilized Tyler mount.  We used that for shots from the camera car as well.

For the garage sequence we had a pair of cameras going.  The Panasonic AF100 was our main camera with a Canon 1D Mark IV as the second.  We staged and lit the garage and had the AF100 on a jib to do more dynamic, moving shots.  That day was pretty intense for me. I was in the suit for eight hours doing everything over and over and over from different angles. That turned out to be much harder than the riding.

We had radios to coordinate everything between the camera cars. I couldn’t talk back but could answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ via with hand and head signals.

MI.com: Is this your first film with a motorcycle theme?

Of this scale kind of scale?  Yes. I have messed around with on-board cameras and shot some track day footage with GoPros cameras.  I have been doing some other experiments with “telemetry-like” visuals to go with the track day stuff, and  I get out on the track about five times a year. I’ve been trying to do documentation of those days. So far I’ve had the Ducati on the track three times, and I believe the knee-down, aggressive riding should be saved for the track.

MI.com: What do you do for a living?

I am a creative director.  I have been going back and forth between video, motion graphics and interactive media projects for the past 15 years. If you want to know more, you can see my Linked In profile here.

I am currently in between gigs and will be making some pretty big decisions in the next few weeks.

MI.com: How long did it take you to shoot? How much time for post-production?

We spent nearly three months planning the whole thing, coordinating schedules and trying to be out before all the rolling green hillsides turned golden. We did all the running footage in one day (with a 4:30 am call time)  to ensure we got the light just right. The first day of shooting came up after I spent the entire day on the bike at Sears Point. We shot a second day of running footage and then spent a full day in the garage and an alley.  All three days of shooting were done over a span of five days during the first two weeks of May.

MI.com: What, if any, was your first motorcycle? What got you involved with bikes and riding?

I’ve had a variety of bikes over the years. The first one was a 1984 Nighthawk 450.  It was a great bike to learn on and was just what I needed at 18.  I also had a 1972 CB200 for a while in college, a 1988 Honda Hawk NT650. My 2002 VFR was pre-ordered in 2001. I had a 2003 Kawasaki 636 that was my track only bike and, finally the 2011 Ducati 1198SP.

I had always lusted after bikes when I was living with the parents.  A couple friends in college bought bikes and I found a coworker that was selling the Nighthawk in a non-running condition.  So for $500 and a bunch of time in the garage, I had it working again.  It was a great way to get to and from classes.

MI.com: Who was the rider in the film?

That would be me.  I was the writer, director, did the creative, the animation, edited the takes and served as the  rider.

MI.com: What locations did you use for shooting?

In a sort of order of appearance,  the San Francisco Mission District for the garage, on to the Broadway tunnel, San Francisco Bay Bridge, Highway 160 near the Antioch bridge, Altamont Pass Road, Highway 5 near Livermore and the  yellow bridge is near Walnut Grove. Most of the shots in the twisties are near Carnegie Motorcycle Park.

MI.com: Any good stories from the shoot?

Lost of people thought our truck was a Google Maps vehicle, and we had some fun with that.

On the bad side? The morning we were heading out to do the final day of running footage the trailer with the bike and gear was broken into.  The helmet, gloves and suit were stolen (presumably by tweakers looking for things they could sell quickly) but the bike remained untouched.  We were planning on shooting in the Big Basin Redwood forest then heading down to Big Sur for a couple other shots.  The burglary totally borked the day and all the people had to be called off.  I was able to edit together the footage to tell the story and was very happy with how it finished anyway.

MI.com: Did you have sponsorship for the project? Foot the tab yourself?

Colin and I started the conversation back in January prior to me taking delivery of the Ducati.

He’d mentioned he was building the truck,  and then I threw out the idea that we should go shoot some test footage with it. Tom Miller was contacted in regards to being the Cineflex operator, and then we went back and forth a bit more and it ballooned into a full on production.  We brought in Conrad Slater and Cameron Baird to round out the team. I wrote a treatment and did mood boards to get everyone involved on the same page. I had a shot list – which was a mile long – and then I started to weave the story together in my mind.  The vision was very clear and everyone was amazing in their commitment to stick to it.  It was never intended to be the typical “overcharged” video that everyone has grown to expect with motorcycle commercials and spots.

Though it isn’t exactly the original vision, it did create all the emotions I intended.

Everyone involved did this out of the pure passion for doing great work and to show the industry how much that passion fuels the final product.  We all wanted an epic piece for our show reels.  It was basically a pitch to get more motorsports-related work.  High tech videos are great for the Silicon Valley clients,  but showing a different side of what could be done really needed a dedicated piece as a demonstration.

Dainese lent us the suit for the production and we’re hoping the number of views we get for Escapism makes up for the loss of the gear.  We’ve been watching Craigslist and Ebay looking for the gear, but maybe with the popularity of the video, someone who sees the video will find out who stole the gear.  Stranger things have happened…

As we approach 100k views of Escapism, we know we’ve done something that resonates with the huge number of people who are inspired to ride and enjoy the experience for what it is.  I just hope they keep sharing it with others.

MI.com: Thanks again, Barry, and our congratulations on a great piece of work.

The Production Team for Escapism included:

Colin Ducey, http://www.duceyproductions.com
Cameron Baird, http://www.cameronbaird.com
Tom Miller, http://www.blueskyaerials.com
Conrad Slater, http://slatersound.webs.com/bio.htm
Matthew Zipkin, http://vimeo.com/matthewzipkin
Mark Coleran, http://www.coleran.com

Escapism from Barry Munsterteiger on Vimeo.

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