Strongest Hearts 13; Team Plant Built preps for competition

We have a new episode up, and boy is it a good one! A bunch of vegans are flexing muscle at a competition in Austin this weekend, and we want you to meet them before they go. We will be filming with them as they compete so you can see how they do!  Go watch the video and get stoked on that much muscle on one screen.

I become pretty obsessed with some of our footage for these videos. After taking the efforts to capture as much as we can in our limited time and budget, I always end up with favorite shots. Shots I know we have to use, like the one where the light is just right and the coldness of the air causes steam to rise from the athlete in the early morning hours of a snow-covered bike ride. The one I had to wake up at 4am and hang out the back of a moving car with my camera dangling dangerously close to the ground in order to get. If we don’t use this shot.. I’m going to be pissed. But sometimes.. we don’t. It’s been 6 months since Whale Wars was aired, and I’m still dreaming of all the shots I took, hanging off the side of a ship, staring at death-inducing waters, bitter that they ended up on someone’s harddrive in a storage room.
And then there are the interviews. I’ve been conducting interviews since my freshman year in high school when I started reporting for our school’s TV news program. You could bake two-dozen cakes in the time it takes me to ask all the questions I can think of during our interviews, and even then, I feel it’s not enough. I love telling other people’s stories, and its incredible what you can get from people if you sit them in front of a few bright lights and a camera (not in an FBI kind of way, but more of a Oprah comfy couch sort of way). Just like the shots I fall in love with, I often find myself repeating someone’s story in my head, sometimes my dreams. I choose the best quotes, trying to narrow down 25 hours of footage into 10 minutes or less.
And that’s where I feel I am cheating you, our lovely viewers. There is so much still untold in these videos. But I am aware of our ever decreasing attention span; and know our goal to make more vegans is probably better served in 30-second bites rather than short-story documentaries. But I can’t do 30 seconds, there’s just too much to be told! Even this episode, a whole 18 minutes long, which is UNREAL for the Internet, has so much missing from it.
For example, did you know Ashlee Harrison went vegan because she found out Iam’s dog food tests on beagle puppies? Or that Billy grew up Catholic, and went vegan for lent one year… and then just kept going. Pam Kalstad didn’t start competing in bodybuilding until she was 47! In a society that craves youth, can you imagine getting into a tiny bikini and walking in front of judges next to 18 and 20 year olds with confidence.. and then winning!? I sure as hell can’t. Did you know Jens is one of the only transgender athletes to be competing at the Naturally Fit Games? Probably not, because that story was so important I couldn’t get it to be told in 30 seconds, and ultimately it had to get cut. Put on the back hardrive for use in a future video that we hope one day I can actually make.
The balance between telling other people’s stories as authentically as I can; and keeping the interest and attention of our audience is a delicate one. Often one episode can create the feeling of failure in both categories! And those quotes on the cutting room floor often find me in my sleep, asking why they weren’t included, wondering if I made the right decision in cutting someone’s journey and struggle with body image in exchange for someone else’s story about going vegan. What does our audience want to hear? And how do we make more vegans!!!
Sometimes being the shooter/editor puts me in a vacuum. I’m the guy behind the curtain. Once those videos are online, I’m already on to the next one, vowing to make it shorter, tighter, and more interesting than the last. Each new episode is a favorite, as Matt and I both get better at our craft, and the world of vegan athletes expands into parts unknown. So, here is our latest favorite video, a group episode based on the 30+ athletes that are at this very moment descending upon Austin, Texas, to flex muscles, do burpees, pick up heavy things, and eventually eat a lot of vegan BBQ at the Naturally Fit Games. With this many athletes, there is bound to be a lot of trophies coming home to the Plant Built Team. And, I promise to tell you their stories, as concisely as I can… hopefully.