Ryan Black, Director of Photography for Little 500 cycling documentary
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of One Day in April, from concept to financing.
One Day in April started out in Washington, D.C. on [writer/producer] Peter Stevenson’s basement floor. [Director] Tom was staying there as he worked at the White House. Looking back, it seemed so obvious – why hadn’t there been a film about the Little 500? If you aren’t from Indiana, maybe you’ve never heard of it, but here, it’s a really big deal. When Tom got back from D.C., I joined the team, and a short while later, Peter flew in from D.C. and production began. We didn’t know anything about cycling, but we learned quickly. We got an Indiegogo crowdfunding page set up, and ended up bringing in about $8,000. I was still a student, so balancing school and this suddenly very real film project was insane in the beginning. We worked everyday, shooting, editing, figuring out who and where all our characters were, and everything else that goes along with shooting a documentary. It was very hectic early on. A few months in, we were contacted by Kirsten [Powell], who ended up coming on as a producer, which helped smooth things out. We practiced how we would shoot the actual race during the events leading up to it, and made a 20-camera plan for it. It was intense, but we knew we had to cover it like a real live sporting event on tv. We contacted friends at IU and posted on social media, and ended up putting together a 25 person crew for the 2013 race. It was incredible and it’s still hard to believe everything came together so well.
2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of One Day in April. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
It is going to be incredible to be at our own world premiere, watching our very first film ever being shown in an actual theater . We’ve put a couple of years into this now, so it will bring a sense of accomplishment to finally let others watch it on such a grand stage. I think they’ll enjoy the excitement of the different race events in the film, as well as the more personal moments with the teams.The Little 500 itself is incredible to see, and I really think we capture the grander of the event, so I definitely think the audience will enjoy that. In the end though, wether people like it or not, I’m incredibly proud of our hard work on One Day in April – it will just be a huge bonus if people like it.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making One Day in April?
As is common in Indiana, the weather was completely unpredictable during principle photography. We would go out in sub-zero temperatures just to get a single shot of the track under a foot of snow, or in torrential downpour just to get the shot of the riders training in the rain. I think we gained the riders’ respect when we would do things like that, which definitely helped us down the road with access to our subjects. The weather was definitely the worst though. The Best moment is easy. Race day. There is nothing like the Little 500, and just as the riders had trained for a year for their moment, it too was ours and we enjoyed every minute of it.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
I think we’re telling a different kind of story than most. We aren’t trying to convince you of anything. One Day in April is a story of self-worth, of hard work, and of what it means to give your all for something that others may find meaningless. From brothers fighting to keep a dynasty alive, to a coach’s obsession with winning, and of simpler things like the struggles of leaving home, One Day in April tells all sorts of stories that are all united by one thing – The Little 500. We joke that it is a ‘choose your own adventure’ film. That is what sets One Day in April apart. We don’t tell you who to root for or what to think, we simply present real human beings doing real things – all for their own reasons.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for One Day in April. Give us your acceptance speech.
Making One Day in April was a privilege for all of us and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our family and friends, our volunteer crew, our subjects and Indiana University. It is important that stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things are made, and in that spirit, we’ve set up the One Day in April Scholarship at Indiana University. Starting this year, our production company Fox Frame Productions will be supplying students with the funds and guidance they need to create their own stories. Without the support we had when we were in school, we wouldn’t have been able to make this film, so thank you to everyone who helped us get to this point and thank you for enjoying our film.