Around the world… in 78 days

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Inside - By An­dré Valen­tine

Scots­man Marc Beau­mont broke a world (lit­er­ally) record; a South African team filmed him do­ing it.

When Scots­man Marc Beau­mont broke the record for the fastest cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the world on a bike, his en­tire jour­ney was doc­u­mented by a South African film crew. Here’s their take on the ul­ti­mate cy­cling ad­ven­ture.

IIt all started at 4am, on the Champs Élysées – fa­mous fi­nal straight of the Tour de France. But Le Tour was only ex­pected in these parts three weeks later; on 2 July 2017, the Arc de Tri­om­phe was pre­sid­ing over the start of a dif­fer­ent race: the Artemis World Cy­cle. And there was only one com­peti­tor. Ad­ven­ture cy­clist Marc Beau­mont once held the record for the fastest hu­man­pow­ered trip across Africa; this time, he was tak­ing on the 29 000km trip around the world – in 80 days. Beau­mont’s lat­est stunt was in­spired by the Jules Verne novel Around the World In 80 Days; am­bi­tiously, he in­tended to cut 43 days off what was then the round-the-world cy­cling record. Seventy-eight days later, he achieved his goal.

Along­side him was a South African TV crew, who cap­tured the drama for a soon-to-bere­leased doc­u­men­tary on Beau­mont’s achieve­ment. Moon­sport Pro­duc­tions, a Cape Town-based con­tent-cu­ra­tion com­pany, had been re­cruited to cap­ture ev­ery mo­ment of Beau­mont’s jour­ney, not only for the doc­u­men­tary but also for reg­u­lar social me­dia up­dates.

As they fol­lowed Beau­mont’s al­most three-month jour­ney around the globe, Moon­sport man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Trent Key was to find his team’s own en­durance ca­pa­bil­i­ties tested.

How did it come about that a team of South Africans cracked the nod for this job?

Through a mu­tual con­nec­tion of both sides, a cam­era­man named Tim Che­va­lier. We had a con­ver­sa­tion over a beer one night, and he told me about Mark Beau­mont’s pre­vi­ous jour­ney around the world, and his Cairo to Cape ad­ven­ture.

Tim said Mark was plan­ning an­other round-the-world trip, and put us in touch with him and his man­age­ment team. After chat­ting to him over the phone and through Skype, Moon­sport’s CEO Philip Key flew to Spain to meet him in per­son at one of his train­ing camps, and things pro­gressed to where we are today.

Give us the de­tails – what did you do, ex­actly?

From the start, Mark wanted to record his doc­u­men­tary in two ways: a long form, post-event doc­u­men­tary for broad­cast, and through daily social me­dia up­dates.

So we de­vised a strat­egy for both forms, and then re­searched how that con­tent could be rolled out daily. We cre­ated con­tent cal­en­dars, which be­came our pro­duc­tion plan – what we would film, how we’d film it, what the daily con­tent would be, and the best time to de­liver it on­line.

How did that work out for you?

All this daily con­tent ul­ti­mately led to a suc­cess­ful cam­paign that rolled out on­line, lead­ing to a to­tal global view­er­ship of over five mil­lion on Face­book and YouTube, com­ing from an ini­tial fan base of 40 000 that Mark al­ready had. With his fan base grow­ing ev­ery day, it meant that most were com­ing back daily to fol­low his progress.

Your team had to be up for the chal­lenge. What pro­fes­sional skills were needed?

We were re­quired to pro­vide a di­rec­tor, an edi­tor, a stills pho­tog­ra­pher, a videog­ra­pher and a mo­tion graphic designer. As it turned out, Moon­sport had Johnny Swanepoel and Hel­mut Scherz, who could ful­fil all those roles.

Added to that we had a pro­duc­tion and social me­dia team, headed by Emanuel Fer­reira and aided by Rox­anne Lom­bard, who would re­ceive, pub­lish and dis­trib­ute the con­tent on the var­i­ous me­dia plat­forms, as well as to the var­i­ous spon­sor and me­dia agen­cies.

What was the pace of the job like?

In­cred­i­ble! From the start, there was a con­stant flow of con­tent to be filmed, edited and pub­lished. Daily, we would pro­duce and pub­lish up to four mov­ing clips, five to 10 edited photos, and a weekly wrap. Ex­clud­ing spon­sor and char­ity video ma­te­rial, in­ci­dent videos, and progress pieces.

Johnny and Hel­mut would get up at 3.30am, and shoot Mark

wak­ing up in the morn­ing and pre­par­ing for the day ahead, as a daily pre­view. They weren’t only cap­tur­ing con­tent for social me­dia and the daily up­dates, but also for the long-for­mat doc­cie, so they were con­stantly cap­tur­ing and edit­ing ma­te­rial.

How did such a small team man­age to keep up?

It was a tough 78 days for Johnny and Hel­mut, awake for around 21 hours a day, sneak­ing in the odd cat­nap where they could. The pro­duc­tion and social me­dia team in Cape Town had to ad­just their sched­ule ac­cord­ing to where Mark and the sup­port team were in the world.

Deal­ing with the var­i­ous time zones was a unique chal­lenge of its own. As an ex­am­ple, if Mark came to the end of his day in Amer­ica, Emanuel in Cape Town had to en­sure he re­mained awake to get the con­tent pub­lished, in or­der to keep the con­tent as close to real time as pos­si­ble.

What sort of pre-plan­ning went into this es­capade?

We started the plan­ning process roughly six months prior, cre­at­ing a treat­ment for the con­tent, then a time­line and a cal­en­dar; then Mark did a 5 600km train­ing ride around the coast­line of Bri­tain. That lasted 14 days, and gave us the feed­back we needed to en­sure a smooth process once the cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion at­tempt com­menced.

We also had to ac­quire seven dif­fer­ent kinds of visas per crew mem­ber (in just un­der two months, dur­ing peak hol­i­day sea­son), as well as the nec­es­sary vac­ci­na­tions, travel and equip­ment doc­u­ments and safety pre­cau­tions that would al­low the crew to travel across the globe.

What were some of the lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems you ran into?

The big­gest chal­lenge, once Moon­sport’s crew was on the road, was data and sig­nal. Though we had in­ter­na­tional SIM cards and other roam­ing de­vices, if there was no sig­nal in the area we wouldn’t be able to re­ceive the ma­te­rial for de­ploy­ment.

There were pe­ri­ods when the team didn’t have sig­nal for days, par­tic­u­larly in Mon­go­lia, and the moun­tain­ous re­gions of

North Amer­ica. Luck­ily, for­ward think­ing from the team al­lowed us to make pro­vi­sion for that.

Was it dif­fi­cult lug­ging all the equip­ment around from place to place?

We had to en­sure that we had enough equip­ment, in­clud­ing back-up and sup­plies, to take us around the world; but it also had to be light enough to travel with, due to the in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal flights. We shot all the con­tent on two Sony a7S cam­eras, with var­i­ous lenses and sound equip­ment – the premise was that Johnny and Hel­mut would each travel with equip­ment that could be car­ried in a back­pack.

And shoot­ing? More than just driv­ing along­side the rider and film­ing, ob­vi­ously?

We had to en­sure we were in the right po­si­tion at the right time. For ex­am­ple, we needed to know when Mark was go­ing to reach a well­known land­mark, so the mo­ment could be cap­tured. Re­mem­ber, we only had one chance to cap­ture each mo­ment – we couldn’t ask him to go back and do it again.

We also had a drone with us, so be­ing able to launch it at the cor­rect time to cap­ture the shot was a chal­lenge. But we over­came that quite eas­ily.

De­scribe the scene at the start venue. The start was very hum­ble

and mod­est – at 4am, just a small group of peo­ple gath­ered around Mark and watched him ride into the dis­tance, with a few cheers and claps.

How did you go from coun­try to coun­try?

Across each con­ti­nent, we trav­elled with two mo­bile homes – one for the sup­port team, and one for the me­dia team. But mov­ing be­tween the var­i­ous stages and con­ti­nents was ac­com­plished through in­ter­na­tional flights (and the oc­ca­sional ferry), all metic­u­lously co-or­di­nated by Mark’s man­ager and lo­gis­tics leader, Una Beau­mont, who op­er­ated from Scot­land. The trans­fers be­tween air­ports and con­ti­nents were man­aged with ut­most ef­fi­ciency com­pli­ments of Men­zies Avi­a­tion, one of the of­fi­cial spon­sors.

Did it start to feel like you were also part of the at­tempt?

With the crew ba­si­cally liv­ing in each other’s pock­ets in two RVs for 78 days, you can’t not feel part of it. Mark and his team were fan­tas­tic to­wards us, ac­cept­ing us im­me­di­ately – and Johnny and

“We only had one chance to cap­ture each mo­ment - we couldn’t ask him to go back and do it again.”

CROSS­ING THE LINE: BEAU­MONT IN POLAND ON DAY 5 OF HIS EPIC CY­CLE AROUND THE WORLD.

TIME AND MO­TION: BEAU­MONT, AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN FILM CREW WHO DOC­U­MENTED HIS 29 000KM JOUR­NEY.

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