It‘s Saturday morning at the beginning of April. Blue skies over Prague are covered by a thin haze. A small film crew are setting up their gear in the eerily empty Old Town Square – one of the historic city‘s most visited sites. They‘re all wearing face masks covering their mouths and noses. Two municipal policemen approach the group but – surprisingly – they pass it by and continue towards one member of the crew with his face mask pulled down who is munching on an energy bar a little way away from the group. Under normal circumstances the policemen would want to know if the crew had all the necessary permits to film but, clearly, during the Coronavirus epidemic their priorities are elsewhere. They tick the young man off and continue on their beat.
We are at one of the locations where the video entitled #ridealone is being made. Initiated by Festka and a group of bike loving filmmakers, its purpose is to appeal to cyclists to continue observing the rules of social distancing recommended by the authorities to tackle the epidemic. „Noticing the growing number of groups of cyclists, runners and walkers, I was disappointed to see people flaunt the rules on social distancing so I approached our filmmaking friends with an idea to make a video to appeal to cyclists to respect the restrictions in order for us all to be able to ride together again soon,” says Michael Mourecek, Festka co-founder and a former pro cyclist, adding: “As lovers of cycling we completely understand the temptation to get together and venture out but we also realise how much is at stake and so we thought we should ask our community to hold out and behave responsibly.”
It is Michael who is the lonesome rider star of the video. After all, he is the principal designer of Festka bicycles and being an ex-pro he looks perfect on the bike. But there is much more to look at. The circumstances under which the film was made were extraordinary. It‘s hard to imagine a situation in which you could see Prague‘s historic squares without a single soul. These places are teeming with tourists, guides and peddlers of all sorts of things around the year. And the other Prague locations such as the Naplavka low embankment or the four-lane Evropska boulevard which also appear in the video, are normally full locals shopping, walking or driving into or out of town.
The pleasant spring weather combined with the government‘s nod to outdoor activities lured tens of thousands of city dwellers out to the popular walking spots in the countryside around Prague and other cities. „While Prague was completely deserted, you couldn‘t find a place to park in the countryside around Krivoklat,“ says the film director Jan Krofta commenting on one of the paradoxes of the current situation. A very keen cyclist himself, Jan has been Festka‘s principal lensman for many years.
The story of the short film follows a lonesome cyclist riding through various well known Prague locations as well some popular cycling spots in the countryside outside the city. His ghost rider appearance is enhanced by the protective mask he is wearing. The voiceover comments on the ride as if it were a group one. The attractive locations and their unusual emptiness, together with several clever script-writing ideas make the video very impactful.
The exceptional circumstances affected the film‘s post production, too. Heeding the government‘s advice to stay at home as much as possible, Jan Krofta, the director, and Petr Mrkous, the editor, worked together long distance in two parallel running Avid editing suites. It was a little less practical than looking over each other‘s shoulders but they both agreed that it was doable. And the PFX postproduction studio‘s current policy of shaking bottles with disinfectant gels instead of hands made everybody laugh.
Apart from the appeal to ride alone, the video offers a sneak peek of our new design scheme. The Scalatore Michael rides in it sports the yet-to-be-launched Mummy scheme which will soon be added to the company‘s Edition design line – the display case for the best custom designs of our in-house graphic designer Tom Hnida.
The rest of the crew on #ridealone were the DOP Jiri Svorc, first AC Petr Braun and the sound designer Mishan Pajdiak. The producer of the shoot was Nikola Mohorita for Unit/Sofa and the picture post production was done at PFX.