Europe & The Near East 2007 Films The Film

From The Cutting Room Floor #2: Quite Interesting Sleeping Arrangements

The second in this series of Janapar bonus video clips will raise a smile with many cycle-tourists. For some of the best two-wheeled travel tales derive from overnighting under the most unlikely of circumstances.

On this particular evening, Andy and I found ourselves kindly gifted the use of a small-town football field changing room somewhere in rural Turkey, in which I had the chance to demonstrate my highly sophisticated sleeping system to the camera.

This scene didn’t make the final cut for a similar reason to the first clip: there was a limited opportunity to encapsulate the six months for which Andy and I rode together before the film’s attention had to return to why we went our separate ways and the story that unfolded as a result.

Many short scenes of our journey between England to Armenia were assembled in order to do this, including the cashpoint incident, the Stambouli musicians, and the spontaneous roadside party you’ll see in the full-length feature. This clip (as well as next week’s) is an example of a perfectly good scene that couldn’t make the cut.

Janapar: Love on a Bike is available instantly as an iTunes-compatible HD digital download from There’s also a handful of first-batch DVDs still available (purchases of which now include a free digital download too). 

Alternatively, you may find that one of the public screenings I’m hosting this summer happens to be in your area.

Europe & The Near East 2007 Films The Film

From The Cutting Room Floor #1: The One Where Tom Puts A Hole In His Face

One of the tragedies of art is how much perfectly decent stuff is chucked away. The 300 hours of footage I shot for Janapar is a case in point. The finished film is 79 minutes long, so for every minute of footage I shot, another four hours were binned. (Admittedly, plenty of it was shite, but a lot of it wasn’t.)

Beginning today, then, I’ll be bringing the best of this extra material back to life. For those who’ve seen Janapar, these clips will explain a few things glossed over in the main feature. For those who haven’t seen it, they’ll be entertaining glimpses of life on the road in their own right.

The first clip answers the question of why Tom appears to be exhibiting the remains of a black eye in some of the Armenian winter shots.

This dramatic scene was included in the main feature until quite a late stage in the edit, but it needed to be quite lengthy to make sense, and so it stalled the momentum of the story, which at that point was resolving the earlier question of how Tom & Andy came to be separated.

We found that we could ‘hide’ the injury in later scenes and explain the conflict more concisely and poetically through Andy’s parallel love interest, and so it had to go. (This particular tale is fully recounted in the book, as it did become a significant turning point.)

As always, your questions and comments are very much welcomed. Next week’s clip will bring a touch of comedy in some rather unusual sleeping arrangements.

Films The Film

How To Make An Award-Winning Adventure Documentary [VIDEO]

A lot’s happened since Janapar’s premiere at Raindance last year, but one of the nicest moments was winning one of the top awards at Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, one of the UK’s main fixtures in the adventure & outdoor festival calendar.

It was particularly rewarding given the ridiculous amount of work that had gone into putting it together — four years of shooting, two years of production and 6 months of distribution so far, unpaid, and the ongoing storytelling project still occupies a large chunk of my time.

I learned a huge amount during the production process — as did James, who’d spent half a decade cutting his teeth in the TV industry. And there are plenty of articles on the way for those of you who are interested in trying your hands at adventure filmmaking — hopefully on a more sensible scale! (If you’re not interested, don’t worry; tales from the road in Iran and new adventure cycling projects are coming too.)

Today I’d like to share a special 12-minute documentary, going behind the scenes in the studios, edit suites, voiceover booths and broom cupboards we worked in — a rare insight into the production process of an adventure film.

This short featurette originally appeared in Janapar’s DVD extras, and in the online bonus material for the instant HD download of the film (both of which are currently available at a discount).

Feel free to ask any questions about this filmmaking process in the comments — I’d be more than happy to answer them!

Philosophy Of Travel The Book The Film

Lessons learned from a DIY film & book tour

Sunrise over Yerevan and Mount Ararat

So I’m back in Yerevan, my Iranian visa application is filed, and I’ve a week to kill: a good opportunity to look back before the madness of travel descends. It’s been an eventful few weeks with much food for thought.

I’ve toured all over the UK and Ireland, attending 12 dates between the book launch in London a month ago and the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival last week.

I’ve travelled 2,627 miles by train (yes, I was bored enough to figure this out), taken 3 ferries, cycled a few hundred miles, and only encountered a single rail-replacement bus service.

I’ve stood on stage with a microphone in a 449-seat auditorium, and I’ve sat beside a pile of books in a café where only 2 people showed up.

I’ve slept in business hotels (nice, not-so-nice and truly abysmal), on the floor of student digs, and on deserted beaches in a bivvy bag.

The variety of experience has been fantastic, but the month has not been without its stumbling blocks. As with the annual review I conducted at the end of last year, there are two obvious questions:

What went well?

What didn’t go well?

(By the way, now’s a good time to grab a cup of tea.) 

The Film Upcoming Events

Touring the UK with Janapar: dates & cities

Woodland Fell

Life in the Lake District continues as usual: rainy, rural and stunning. But things are about to get rather busy as I hit the road with Janapar this month.