[All photos courtesy The Crawford Group, Image Garden, Inc., Matt Hutchens, and Tom Postel]
The challenge: ride a motorcycle “coast to coast” in Florida — sunrise at Flagler Beach on the east coast, to sunset at Cedar Key in the west.
Doesn’t sound that challenging, right? I mean, it’s only about 150 miles, and as a touring motorcyclist, I’ve easily ridden 300, 400 or more miles in a day.
The catch: it was for the taping of a television program, which would require many stops; the crew setting cameras in place, slowly riding by scenic locations, etc.
In 30 years as a television videographer (which I’m pretty much done with now, but that’s another story), I’ve really only been in front of the camera a couple of times, so this was a little intimidating. I was invited to participate as a “motorcycle travel expert” for an episode of a TV show about Florida tourism. The show is called How To Do Florida, and it’s syndicated on the ABC stations in all of Florida’s television markets, as well as in Mobile, AL. It also airs on Sun Sports cable in the state.
The show is produced by The Crawford Group of Lake Mary, FL and features Chad Crawford as the go-anywhere, do-anything host (as long as it’s in Florida, of course). In each episode, Chad learns how to do something (cave diving, fishing, cooking seafood, etc.), and is guided by a guest “expert.”
For the episode in which I participated, the crew had previously taped Chad going through a motorcycle training course, getting his license, choosing riding gear, and renting a motorcycle through Orlando Harley-Davidson.
My mission: to accompany and guide Chad on his first motorcycle tour. It would be, essentially, his first time riding outside the parking lot where he’d completed his training.
On the designated day, we met at 6:30 am at Flagler Beach. Sunrise was at 7:14. Director of photography Ben Mesker, from Image Garden Productions, along with crew members Matt Hutchens and Tom Postel, came loaded for bear — incredibly well-equipped with three Panasonic P2 cameras, a SteadiCam rig, numerous GoPro miniature HD cameras to mount on the motorcycles, and even a radio-controlled helicopter that Matt designed and built, with a mini-HD camera mounted on it! (I’m really looking forward to seeing the helicopter shots — as the helicopter hovered over the road, we rode underneath and into the horizon — should be some cool shots).
Despite Chad’s lack of motorcycling experience, he took to it like a fish to water, and we had an enjoyable day of riding with perfect weather. Although we had nearly 12 hours until sunset, because of numerous locations and stops we arrived in Cedar Key with literally only a couple of minutes to spare, and pulled up to the waterfront just in time, as the crew jumped out of the chase van to shoot us watching the sun disappear beyond the horizon.
The show will air sometime this summer — when I find out the schedule I’ll post it. How to Do Florida may post a link online, but since they sell DVDs of the program, they probably won’t post the entire episode.
It was a lot of fun for me, the crew said I did fine on-camera (although most of the time I felt like an incredible dork, and I know from being on the production side of a shoot that the crew always tells the guest they did fine, even if they didn’t). But I’m still excited about seeing the finished show.
Stay tuned for an update with air times!
Check out the photo gallery (and thanks again to Chad, Ben, Tom, and Matt for all photos):