Craft & DIY Films Personal Updates

Some thoughts, as the Beer Can Stove video goes viral

As of right now, the video above has been played 1,311,131 times. (Check it.)

Needless to say, when Armen and I popped out to buy a couple of cans of Kozel for this film, we were not expecting this to happen.

It’s been fun to watch the statistics over the last few days. It’s also been interesting to ruminate on why content ‘goes viral’ — internet shorthand for a shedload of people seeing something online in a short space of time.

What it boils down to, I think, is simple, resonant ideas put into easily shareable form, plus a dice-roll. The dice roll is whether anyone with the reach of Lifehacker, TrueActivist or RealFarmacy will pick up on it. But in the words of someone cleverer than me, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take”. 

We’ve all handled drinks cans in our lives, used scissors, and come across surgical spirit. The delight comes from the combination and reinvention of these every day things to serve a basic human need.

This genuine utility value was demonstrated by a comment from Noel Carual of the Philippines. 

“I wish to express my heartfelt thanks for sharing this very informative video especially during these times that my country is recently ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan [ Yolanda ].”

Who’d have thought this would end up cooking food and sterilizing water after a natural disaster?

Another thing worth mentioning is that there’s no particular credit due or fame bestowed upon any individual. All I did was splice together some video of what I thought was a genuinely awesome idea. All Armen did was practice hard and spend time demonstrating a revolutionary concept he’d come across. What’s spread like wildfire over the last few days is the idea, which doesn’t belong to anyone.

It may not be as amusing as the Ultimate Dog Tease. But it’s a damn sight more useful.

Got an idea you think the world needs to know about? If two blokes in Armenia with a camera and a beer-can can put it in front of 1,313,232 people (and counting), who can’t?

Films Other People's Adventures

The Cycle Traveller Who’s Going Nowhere (Plus, Upcoming Screening Events)

You know what I love most about this fantastic little film? (Do watch it.)

It’s the fact that what our protagonist has unwittingly done is exactly the same as embarking upon a really long bike trip.

The only difference is that he never leaves his home city.

(But then if life on the road is less about leaving home and more about feeling at home anywhere — is there really any difference at all?)

* * *

Speaking of films, we’re about to kick off a new round of Janapar events in the UK (and a few elsewhere too). If you’re in or near any of the following, please drop by and say hello:

Bristol, Thursday October 31st
We’ll be holding two consecutive screenings at Roll for the Soul cycle cafe this coming Thursday; one at 6pm and one at 7:45pm. There are a handful of tickets left for each — click here to reserve yours. I’ll be doing a Q&A and book signing after each one. (The leading lady will be making a rare appearance too.)

Lyon, France, Saturday 9th November
It’s fantastic to have been recognised by adventurers and filmmakers outside of the UK. One of France’s premier adventure film festivals, Quais du Départ, will be screening Janapar, and I’ll be there for a Q&A afterwards. More information here.

Toronto, Canada, Sunday 10th November
The city playing host to a large Armenian diasporan community, it’s really nice to have been programmed as part of the Armenian-themed annual Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto. There’ll be a live Q&A after the screening via Skype. Information and tickets here.

Graz, Austria, Thursday 14th November
Austria’s biggest mountain and adventure film festival will be screening Janapar at 18:14 precisely. They’ve also seen fit to shortlist the film for a prize, which is quite nice of them. Very sadly I won’t be able to make this one myself. More information here.

Kendal, Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th November
Kendal Mountain Festival, the UK’s biggest celebration of adventure film, have also shortlisted us for a prize this year and will be holding several screenings over the 4 days. I’ll be at RGS Explore that weekend, talking all things bike-tripping & filmmaking.

Oldham, Greater Manchester, Monday 18th November
This fundraising event is hosted by Saddleworth Discovery Walks as part of their Evening Of Adventure series. I’ll be there to present the film and holding a Q&A and book signing afterwards. Click here for tickets.

Wirksworth, Derbyshire, Sunday 1st December
I’ll be coming up to the Peak District for Wirksworth Adventure Film Festival at the Northern Lights Cinema. There are two screenings lined up and I’ll be doing a Q&A and book signing after the evening showing. Further info will become available here.

Chichester, West Sussex, Friday 6th December
As part of the Chichester International Film Festival 2013 there will be a screening and Q&A on the evening of Friday 6th December. There’s a second screening on Wednesday 4th, without the Q&A part. Tickets will be available at the cinema’s website.

London, Wednesday 18th December
Last but certainly not least, the final date this year will be on The Strand in London, where the popular Tales Of Adventure series will be hosting a double-bill screening and Q&A with myself and Leon McCarron. Information will be made available on the TOA website nearer the time.

If you’re unable to make any of these events but would still like to see the film, it’s always available to download at

And if you’d like to help throw a screening in your local area this December or January, read how you can do so here.


Films Other People's Adventures

How This 2‑Minute Clip Won The ACA’s Bicycle Travel Video Contest

This year I was asked to be a judge for the Adventure Cycling Association of America’s first Bicycle Travel Video Contest.

Like many of the other judges (whose number included Dom, Alastair, Friedel & Andrew, Russ & Laura, Michelle, and Ryan), I watched a lot of videos that were kind of OK.

I watched a few that were quite terrible.

I watched a handful that were really good.

But Stefan’s winning 158-second clip was far ahead of the pack. Watch it and see why.

What was it about this video that I found so compelling? 

Films The Film

Highly Embarrassing Outtakes/Bloopers From Janapar

If you’ve enjoyed the Janapar deleted scenes series I’ve been running over the last couple of weeks (here’s the first one, in which I faceplant into some concrete), I’ve got a little bonus for you — a comedy “outtakes reel” of the most embarassing footage I wish I’d never given to the editor in the first place.

(Oh, the humiliation!)

Now! Next week is going to be rather exciting, as I’ll be publishing the first in a series of articles I’ve been working on for almost a full year.

If I’m right, it’s going to cause a bit of a stir, and so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes down. As a clue, it’ll be of extra special interest to anyone procrastinating over a bike trip — or any kind of adventure, really — because of the cost of getting started.

With Google Reader permamently going offline as of next Monday, the easiest way to keep in the loop with new articles will be to join my email list. You can get new articles in your inbox every weekend, or just a quick monthly round-up of the best bits.

Films Middle East & Africa 2009 The Film

From The Cutting Room Floor #4: Cycling from Aswan, Egypt, to Wadi Halfa, Sudan

This scene recounts all the chaos of a classic experience which all who head down Africa’s east route will negotiate: the weekly ferry crossing of Lake Nasser, from Aswan (of Dam fame) in the south of Egypt to the tiny port of Wadi Halfa in northern Sudan.

Deep within the historic region of Nubia, this is the only overland route between the two nations, who are still unable to agree on who actually owns the inhospitable tract of empty desert in between.

The ferry sails just once a week, and tickets can only be procured by visiting the agency in Aswan in person with the valid Sudanese visa you obtained from the embassy in Cairo. To ensure that I wouldn’t be waiting around in Aswan for days on end, I hopped on a train from further up the Nile, bought my ticket and was back with my bike the same day, in order to continue enjoying the fantastic experience of cycling the Nile Valley.

Some who’ve seen the full film might recognise segments from this final deleted scene in the series (here’s #1, #2 and #3). A deleted scene isn’t wasted if it reveals material that works better elsewhere!

I’ve heard that the route south from Wadi Halfa has been fully paved since I crossed it in 2009, transforming northern Sudan into some of the easiest riding in East Africa.

And that’s the thing about travel — no matter how far you go, all you’ll ever see are cross-sections of places as they existed for one brief moment.