Right before Christmas I finished editing the 30-minute documentary “Salt to Saint.” It delves into this intense 410-mile annual bicycle race in which relay teams race from Salt Lake City to Saint George, Utah, all within a 24-hour time period.
I really love documentaries, because they are movies about real people and real events. I think this turned out to be a really awesome documentary, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love editing, because I feel like it’s one of the most creative stages of filmmaking. It’s the part that people don’t realize exists, but it’s where the majority of the work is done, really. This is especially true on documentaries, where you have to take hours of seemingly random shots and find the gems, then piece them together into something that is not only coherent, but also has a consistent and meaningful message.
Something I also enjoy is working on documentaries about subjects that I previously knew little about. For example, a few years back while studying film at the University of Utah, my professor challenged me to make a documentary on the Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering. I had previously planned on making a documentary about Utah cinema focusing on local filmmakers like Richard Dutcher. My professor had even called Dutcher and put in a good word for me, but he was in the middle of production at the time and it didn’t work out to interview him. I ended up making the film about the cowboy poets instead, and I’m so happy I did! Previous to making that film, I knew very little about cowboys and cowboy poetry. It was an awesome experience to have my eyes opened to a culture and way of life that is so different from my own. The fact that I never would have found out that much about on my own is what made it so interesting to me. I came to the conclusion that the cowboy is our country’s mythical hero, just like the Greeks and Romans had their own legends and heros. (My film is called American Hero (check out the trailer here).
With Salt to Saint I had a similar experience of learning about this culture of bicycle racing that I wouldn’t have known much about if I hadn’t made this documentary. What I found out was that participating in events like Salt to Saint not only helps connect people from all around the country with this similar interest in bicycling, but it also is a real bonding experience for the teams who participate in the race together. There’s something about doing a crazy thing like racing together all day and all night across a 400-mile stretch of back country that really brings you together in a way that’s different I think from our everyday lives.
Something personally fulfilling for me was the fact that I have an uncle who was an Olympic bicycle racer and a grandfather who was an avid cyclist even into his old age before he passed. My grandfather would even do things like cycle with friends from San Diego all the way to the tip of Baja California and back. Since I’m not a big cyclist myself, I felt happy to participate in something that my uncle and grandfather loved and were passionate about.