Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 31
Double chin in 'Double Down'
BY ROB KRIDER
Remember that song from Sesame Street that went, “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong”? The skit usually had four things on the screen and one of them didn’t match the other three. As a kid I always liked that part of the show. It had a cool jingle to it and Big Bird normally wasn’t part of it, a win-win in my opinion.
In fact, let’s play a round of that game right now: Tom Cruise, Mark Walberg, Will Smith, and Rob Krider. If you thought Rob Krider doesn’t belong because he isn’t an actor, you’re wrong. The answer is actually Will Smith. In that list of men, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was the most different one—not because he’s black, you racist, but because he’s taller than 6 feet (two inches taller to be exact). All of the other actors are in the 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8 range, making me the tallest of the shorties. Take that, Marky Mark.
“Rob, you’re not an actor. You’re a writer—and barely one at that,” some may say. But the fact of the matter is that I’m actually in a feature-length documentary about auto racing called Double Down. It’s true, just search Krider Racing Double Down on Amazon.com and get out your credit card. For better or for worse—mostly worse—a film crew followed me around during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill auto race to capture my team experiencing the longest road race in North America. The film shows me and my teammates cobbling together our two racecars for the race, road tripping to the event, and then trying to survive 25 consecutive hours of grueling, on-track battles. Rumor has it one of the drivers—I’d rather not say which—might have blown up an engine during the race (SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t Walberg, Cruise, or Smith).
It could be argued that simply being myself in a documentary film isn’t acting. I used to think the same thing until I starred in a documentary. I learned the hard way that documentary filmmaking, like reality TV, has pretty much nothing to do with reality. It has everything to do with telling a story. And if that story doesn’t unfold when the camera crew is around (union says they have to eat at noon sharp), the story must be re-enacted for the cameras (after the union lunch). I found re-shooting reality very difficult to do as a racecar driver. Here is an example of dialogue between the director and myself:
DIRECTOR: You drove the car off the track in a pretty spectacular fashion.
ME: We don’t call it spectacular in racing. We call it an accident.
DIRECTOR: The exterior camera didn’t catch the whole shot because it was at night when you went off. Could you try it again when the sun comes up?
ME: I’m going to do everything in my power not to try that again. We want to win the race.
DIRECTOR: I want you to win the race, too. It would be good for the film. But if you aren’t going to win, could you crash the car some more?
ME: There are 68 cars on the track going more than 100 miles per hour in the dark while the drivers suffer sleep deprivation. The chances are pretty good that something will get bent.
DIRECTOR: Excellent. Let me know when that will be so I can get the cameras out there.
ME: It will be sometime between now and when the checkered flag falls in 11 more hours.
The film crew learned a lot about racing, such as the car can’t be stopped during the race to add a camera. The racers learned a lot about filming, namely that the camera really does add 10 pounds, even if you’re already 10 pounds overweight. Somewhere in the middle, the film Double Down was created.
Many GoPro cameras gave up their lives during the hardcore filming at 25 Hours of Thunderhill. And many crew members and drivers gave up their pride while filming a reality-style documentary. It’s amazing how easy it is to lock up when a camera is shoved in one’s face. What seems like a simple task—“say your name, hometown, and job on the team”—turns out to be a very difficult process when the cameras are rolling. It usually sounds something like this: “Uh, my name? Uh, well, my name is Rob. You want my current hometown or where I was born? Um, OK, we’ll skip that. My job on the team? Well nobody is really paid; this is sort of a volunteer thing, but, yeah. My job? OK, well, I drive the red car as fast as I can, for as long as I can, until the car runs out of gas, I fall asleep, or I crash into something. My name is Rob. Did I already say that?”
Acting is not an easy job, even if it means acting like yourself. I have a whole new respect for talented actors, directors, and editors. The editor is the person every actor needs to make his new best friend. The editor can make you look like a stud or like a moron. It just depends on whether they like you. After we wrapped filming in December 2012, I didn’t see a print of the film until September 2013. Apparently the footage needed to be shipped around the moon and back before they could actually work on the movie. The first time I saw the documentary, I wanted to kill myself. I’m a lot fatter and I cuss a lot more than I realized. Then I learned that the editor likes bagels. I bought him a lot of bagels and made sure he edited out most of my moronic scenes. After the final cut, I come across not as an idiot but as a foul-mouthed, overweight racecar driver, which in reality, is what I am.
Rob has watched the film 152 times… this week alone. He can be contacted through the managing editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.