#240 Awesome Foundation Filming Part 4

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Today was the last day I had scheduled for filming. I needed a full week to edit including a weekend so I had to give away the rest of the helmets today or be screwed (and not in the sexy way).

While doing research on Critical Mass, I stumbled upon an event happening today called Choppercabras at Atomic Cycles in Van Nuys. Taken straight from the event’s description:

Choppercabras 11th annual Halloween Ride is a bicycle event unparalleled in all of Los Angeles, perhaps all the globe! Bicycles bashed, blood spilled, hot dogs eaten, 2 wheeled mayhem unlike anything you’ve ever seen! (unless you’ve been to one of these before.) And it’s all free! Did I mention hot dogs?

Sounds like the perfect place to promote bike safety right?  Right??

Ok maybe not. But if I didn’t give any helmets away, at least I would get funny footage of these hardcore bikers laughing at me and chasing me away. Besides, I had a backup plan of taking the helmets to Silverlake try to give them away to hipsters who might think helmets are so lame that they are actually cool.

Atomic Cycles is deep in the heart of Van Nuys. For those not from LA, Van Nuys borders Sherman Oaks which is a nice suburban area that I live in. That bordering area is a bit sketchy but not too bad. But deep Van Nuys is the real gritty part of the Valley.

I was more than a little nervous going over there. My camera man, Tim, wouldn’t be able to make it till later so I would be going in alone.

When I arrived at Atomic Cycles, I headed to the parking lot in the back where the event was taking place. Have you ever seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome? Walking into the parking lot reminded me of Max walking into Barter Town. The bike riders here made the riders of Critical Mass look like Care Bears.

The entire area was set up with tables of food, drink and a coned off “events” area with cardboard castles flanking either side. Because, you see, the theme for Choppercabras (at least this year) was medieval times.

I had to find the organizer because I saw on the description that you had to get permission from him in order to film anything. I asked one of the food servers (who happened to be stirring a giant pot of something vaguely stew-like) who was in charge. He said Paul and pointed to a wild looking guy with crazy hair.

I already felt painfully uncool in my tuxedo road bike jersey and red cape. Now I had to talk to this bad ass looking motherfucker and see if he wouldn’t mind me giving away bike helmets.

When I told Paul about what I wanted to do he said, “Why?” When I told him I wanted to promote bike safety he said, “This is the last place you want to do that!” To be honest, in the past, a reaction like that would’ve made me just pack up my shit with my head hanging low. But I persisted and said this was the perfect place to do my project. I further explained that even if nobody wanted a helmet, I could get some fun footage anyway. Paul thought about it and decided to let me do it. On one condition though: he wanted a helmet.

I figured this was like giving an offering to the chief of the tribe so I gave him the pick of the litter. He chose a blue road helmet. The fact that he wanted a helmet at all surprised me. He said he still did wear helmets in certain situations but couldn’t bring himself to buy a new one. I was happy to oblige.

I ended up talking to a photographer and after giving him a helmet, asked him to help  me shoot some footage until Tim arrived. (Side note – all the footage he shot was unuseable because it was out of focus – sigh)

I walked over to the group of bikers who were lounging in the shade, raised the helmets over my head and asked, “Who wants a free helmet?”

I full expected to be dragged into the pack and torn apart but surprisingly, a bunch of people came out of the crowd. I gave them all helmets and they seemed really happy about it. Maybe they just never even thought of buying a helmet before. Maybe they couldn’t afford one. Maybe they even knew helmets existed. But for whatever reason, I was giving away the helmets.

When Tim arrived I gave away the rest of my helmets. And it didn’t take long at all. A few people came up to me and said what I was doing was really cool. Again, that really surprised me given the event and the riders I thought they were. It just proves again what they say about making assumptions.

So I’ve finally given away all my helmets. The next step is the long and painful editing process. But in terms of what the grant was for (giving away helmets to promote bike safety) I had already succeeded. The video is just icing on the cake. It feels good.

One Comment to “#240 Awesome Foundation Filming Part 4”

  1. angela 1 November 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Yay, so proud of you!