In April 2004 Spike Productions took its first few nervous steps into the unknown. Those first steps were straight off dry land and on to a boat as Liam and I embarked on our first project together, four days filming across the Channel to follow a world record attempt for rowing from London to Paris.
Armed with £80,000 of brand new kit and a few specialist lenses we had hired for night filming, we set off from London following an impressive team of rowers from Guernsey trying to get inside the 90-hour time.
Ahead of us were four days of little sleep (except for rare moments when I could find an unoccupied bed).
The rowing team was led by the infamous Colin Fallaize, with the support team being led by the equally skilled Rob Platts, but it wasn’t all about them: there was an amazing set of people involved, from the tough, fit rowers to the organised, willing support crew – all there to play their vital part in making this record attempt a success.
Colin is a master motivator and his ‘Fallyisms’ are peppered throughout the film. This is my particular favourite from when they are well into the challenge but still have a lot to do:
“[You’ve] got to dig deep on every department – every single department you know. We have to maintain the pace, put the pain aside and improve on everything we are doing so far, so we don’t make any silly mistakes, we don’t let ourselves slip, at what is a crucial, crucial stage it’s really easy to have something like this and all the hard, hard work we have done – things that are a little bit of a memory now but the force 5s we were fighting in the Channel, all the things that have happened, boat bumping, the repairs, would all be for nothing if you went a did a stupid, stupid thing at this stage of the game.”
For our part we were making a one-hour documentary with the aim of getting this aired by a TV channel. We had interest from the BBC and also from a distributor through the Extreme Sports channel.
We were full of naïve enthusiasm and excitement for the actual adventure we were on as well as starting a business.
Reality set in when we got into editing. For 12 weeks we edited the programme, which included revisions and script changes. We had advice from distributors and did what we could to sell it for broadcast. This came to nothing but we still managed to do well with the stocking filler market by selling DVD copies.
Overall, however, looking at the film again I’m struck by how powerful it is. Not only was it a great start for us and an opportunity to make our mark with a significant project, we are also proud to have been a part of the record breaking team we filmed.
I learnt a lot in that trip, about working with people in a tight stressful environment. About pushing yourself further than you believe is possible. That by being ambitious and setting your sights on a big goal you will find a way to achieve it. All of these lessons came from the rowers and support team – one and all an inspirational lot with whom we are honoured to have been involved.
They weren’t “in Seine”, they were warriors.
Watch the film and be inspired yourself.