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Filmmaker Sam Rowland was the winner of This London, the documentary short film event presented by The Smalls in association with Boat Magazine and The Guardian, at the Hospital Club in May of this year. As the winner of the event, Sam was invited to travel to Athens with the team from Boat magazine to make a film for their fourth issue (out now!). Boat magazine is a biannual independent magazine that physically relocates to a new city for each issue. They create work in a different environment and collaborate with local writers and artists – Athens was the focus for their fourth issue. As a city in state of transition following political unrest and economic crisis, their was a lot of material for Sam to work with.
After spending 3 days in the city with the Boat magazine team he had shot his documentary short Fast Fridays, about a group of young Athens urbanites who have formed a cycling group as an expression of freedom and community. Read our interview with Sam in which he discusses the making of the film and his plans for the future.
How did the opportunity to make Fast Friday come about?
My film Tired of Playing Basketball won the ‘This London’ 2012 award at the start of the year. The prize was to accompany Boat magazine in Athens to make a film for their latest issue.
Was the idea for the film something you developed with Boat Magazine?
When I arrived in Athens Davey and Erin Spens from Boat had already been there for over a week so had been collating potential subjects of interest for me and other collaborators. Davey gave me a few options and immediately I knew the bike story was the one for me. I was looking for a story or scene of people that would be taking part in some sort of event during the three days while I was in Athens. I knew if there was an event it would be valuable to anchor the story around it.
How to hear about the Fast Friday riders?
Davey hooked me up with Gareth from Vicious Cycles Athens who was extremely helpful and full of information. He acted as a fixer the whole time we were there. He told us about the event and introduced us to some of the founders and riders.
How long did it take you to collect the footage?
I was there for 3 days.
The soundtrack is really effective. How did you source the music?
A contact of Davey’s, Dan Weeks from weeksweeksweeks.com, is originally from Greece and wanted to help out with the project. He and his team make awesome music for TV and film sync and have a massive catalogue of tunes. We were very grateful of Dan for donating three of his tracks for this film, I think it makes a massive difference to the impact of the film.
What was your approach in making the film? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to end result to be or did you just create a story from the footage you shot?
I had a story in mind from the beginning but as always with shooting these types of films, it never pans out how you expect. The real story you find is usually a lot better than the one you had planned in your mind. I think this is because the one you create in your mind is built on inaccurate preconceptions or stories you’ve heard before, and nobody wants to hear the same story regurgitated. It’s what’s different about the new story that makes people interested in it.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any new projects?
I have a feature doc in development about the life of Howard Marks AKA ‘Mr Nice’. This has been ongoing for a while now as I continue shooting music videos and commercial content for brands. I’m also continually writing and directing fictional shorts.
Congratulations to Sam on a job well done! Check out Boat magazine's Athens issue here.