Dream Making

Firstly, my apologies.

I’ve missed two “On Location” entries, for Episodes 8 and 9. For now, I decided to skip them to put my thoughts down for 10. But I promise, I’ll return to 8 and 9 with some quality words for those two very soon!

The reason I didn’t get to writing them was really down to the focus I had at the time. Or, rather, a diminished focus. The months of November and December last year were pretty tough for me. My Mum was in the last months of her life, wasting away due to the effects of the pancreatic cancer.

But during this time, I had started shooting “Dream” in the middle of November and returned to the Central Coast (an hour and a half north of Sydney) 3 more times. And on the New Years’ Eve of 2014, my Mum passed away.

Needless to say, it was a tough end to 2013.

I really looked forward to seeing Jodie on our film days. Since I first met her, I saw in her a spirit that was kindred to my Mother’s; independent, resilient, pretty amazing organisational skills, kind, loyal and with a flair for creativity.

I had wanted to feature a female rider from early on in the series. But needed to complete the stories I had booked myself into. When the time came, I put a call out for lady riders, and one of the responses was Jodie’s. When she first contacted me she said she was a little reluctant, but that her friends convinced her to go for it.

When Jodie first gave me the basics of her story, I was pretty thrilled by it. I instantly saw a drive and determination to do what she wanted and, not so much as to be successful, but to be happy. So, when we finally met in a Sydney bar one afternoon, I saw this small, slightly nervous girl with large green eyes and knew she had a story to tell.

What she told me is very close to what you see in the final episode. There were a few small things I had to omit, mostly for timing and flow, and even then it was hard to trim much of the overall story without losing the impact. Deciding on how to shoot such a story, really the first full life-story I would document for the series, was the first challenge.

Now, the biggest criticism of this episode was that it was quite different, in terms of style from other episodes. Particularly the dramatizations. Going into the shoot, I knew I’d need to cover the basics; life at home, life at work, riding, the bike up close, etc. But the more I got into the shoot, the more I realised what I was shooting was inadequate. I felt that I needed to show the story that Jodie was telling, to take us back and into to those key moments in her life. Re-enacting them was the most natural option that came to my mind.

Photo by Jill Schaeffer

When completing these scenes, Jodie was a total sport. At first, she was a little uncomfortable with the idea of acting, but by the second day, there was no hesitation. The first scene we did was the Car/RTA scene. Using my car as the main prop, (which actually has snuck into just about every episode!) we shot this scene just outside of Foran Exhausts on the Central Coast. Denis and his son, Daniel, were happy for us to use their shop as a backdrop for the RTA scene. Daniel just so happened to have a Triumph Bonneville that he was working on. While it was a bright light blue in the episode, in Jodie’s memory it was a brilliant purple.

The other aspect of this shoot that I really enjoyed was that, as this was the closest thing to a bio-pic that I’ve completed, I got to see nearly all sides of Jodie’s life, all the bikes, friends, works, family and love. In most other episodes it’s usually two or three sides. Not the complete picture, but enough to thread the story. But with Jodie’s life, all these parts of her life WAS the story. And it was great film all these scenes that connected her story as authentically as possible.

I’ve been asked a few times, how I shot Jodie “floating” above the ground when she was dreaming. Firstly, when I had settled on the dream theme, one of the first images that came to mind was the scene in Gladiator when Maximus is first taken as a slave and as he is recovering and hallucinating, and floating above the ground. I thought it was a powerful image for being close to death. But in the right context, I thought it could also be a powerful image for chasing life. For dreaming.

When I explained the idea to Jodie and her super supportive step-Dad, Pete, they were all for it. We rigged up Pete’s trailer with a long plank of wood hanging out the back for Jodie to lay on and a rope across the tail gate for her to grab. Once she was laying down, she had another small piece of wood to support her head. Once she was in place, I just positioned the tripod, and camera at the end of the slider over her and had Pete pull the trailer, ever so gently with his ute. We probably did forty or so takes, as it was really tricky to get the ute to pull slow and steady. But the end result was pretty breath taking.

I was pretty lucky to be able to shoot inside a facility of Australia’s largest government logistics organisations and postal service, Australia Post. As a regular home dweller, the “postie” has been a long fascination of mine ever since I was a kid. It was always hard to supress that almost irrational bit of excitement I got when the Postie rolled up on their Honda CT110 bike. And there I was in the Lisarow Delivery Facility for Australia Post, surrounded by over 30 postie bikes.

At the time of shooting, Jodie was more than a postie on the bike; she was actually running the whole facility. Over the few years that she had been working there, her love and talent for the job had shone through and earned her the promotions to Acting Facility Manager. While she now spends more time behind the desk than she’d like, Jodie still gets to head out on the bike from time to time.

If you hadn’t noticed, Jodie was sporting a pair of pretty amazing moto jeans by UglyBROS. I had contacted the company a little while before shooting to ask if they’d like to be involved in an episode and in response they sent through two pairs of jeans for Jodie; the Twiggy and Motorpool. For the whole time we were shooting (and nearly every day inbetween) she did not take the jeans off, swearing by their comfort (with and without the included knee and hip armour). While they may be cut a little too slim for most western women (as they’re designed and made out of South Korea) the elasticity in the quality fabric meant that they fit Jodie like a second skin. To find out more about the UglyBros motowear range go to www.uglybrosusa.com

The Central Coast, which is about 2 hours north of Sydney is pretty special. Imbibed with lush bushland, rivers and rolling hills, it’s a place you can get lost in on a bike pretty easily. In fact, the Old Pacific Highway, which runs through a large chunk of it is a huge drawcard for any biker within 100 kays of Sydney. We filmed on this road quite a bit. During dreamy sunrises and fog, it was the perfect location for Jodie’s story.

Her bike (a 2012 Suzuki TU205x), as you may have seen in the video, wasn’t massively modified. As Jodie says, she just wanted to do a few things to make it just a little bit cooler. But the mods she has had done have taken a fairly decent bike into something quite grunty with a nice edge. But I think Jodie has broken a bit of a promise she made to herself in the video, saying that she didn’t want a bike and wasn’t ever going to get one. She since found a sweet Honda CX500 and has already kitted it out to her style.

I guess dreams don’t just stop at one favourite bike.