I’ve known Steve Langston for more than 15 years. I wouldn’t say that we have been the best of friends during this time, but we have always shared the same offbeat sense of humor, which has kept us close over the years.
Steve started bike touring around the same time I began studying filmmaking. He would phone me while on the road and fill me in on his latest adventures. The stories blew my mind! I knew that I wanted to try bike touring and told Steve that I would tag along one day and shoot a film. This didn’t happen right away as Steve is a tough guy to keep up with. It didn’t take long until he had more than 25,000 kms under his belt, written two guidebooks and showed no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
In 2009 I got a call from him as I usually did when he was planning a trip. He told me he would be cycling from Whitehorse to Yellowknife in June of 2010 claiming that it was going to be his most hardcore tour to date. The distance between services was unbelievable and there would be 24 hours of sunlight.
I knew that if I was ever going to make a film about him that this was my chance. I told him that I was in and never looked back.
The biggest challenge shooting this film was the fact that we had to haul all of our film gear along with camping supplies, clothing, bike parts and food. We had to pack light meaning our production equipment would have to be minimal. This became an overarching theme for the entire film. If the trip was as hardcore as he said it was than the film had to look gritty and rough. Most of the film was shot on a DSLR because it was small, shot nice HD video and could run off of AA batteries if we couldn’t charge our electronics on the road. We also had a GoPro camera that we could mount on our bikes to get moving shots and didn’t have to worry about it getting wet or muddy. Our 3rd camera was an old handycam that looked gritty and oversaturated. We ended up using this camera quite a bit and it gives the film an extremely raw feeling when you watch it.
Establishing Steve’s character was very important but I really can’t take too much credit for directing him. He is a very unique individual and really all we had to do was make sure the camera was rolling and ask the right questions. His personality did the rest. One thing we did try quite often was to interview him while he was busy doing something else like fixing a bike or making dinner. This allowed him to act more naturally and often lead to some of the best sound bites in the film.
Riding North is a tale of Man versus Nature. We camped the entire way and dealt with pretty much every type of weather you can imagine. There were only five grocery stores in just under 2000 kms. We had no choice but to put our heads down and grind it out to our destination. As a result everything was shot on location in the elements. Our dirty mangled bikes and the loads we were carrying became as much of a character in the film as Steve himself. We also made a conscious decision to include a bit of the filmmaking process in the film because it played a huge role in the overall fatigue of the crew and just added to how difficult this trip really was.
In the end what you will see is a very accurate interpretation of what we went though over the coarse of 30 days in some of the most unforgiving terrain on the planet. There wasn’t time for sub plots and story arch’s. We would literally just wake up; get on our bikes and go, stopping only to shoot footage. None of us had ever been to any of theses places and had no idea what to expect around the next corner. I hope that by watching this film people will be entertained and enjoy going on this journey with us. Shooting this movie changed my life and I hope it inspires people to get on their bikes and travel.