Originally from Tasmania (or “Tassie” as the locals affectionately call it), the creative duo North South was born from a love of cycling and storytelling. They create and share content that aims to inspire others to explore this amazing planet on two wheels. Now based in Melbourne, they specialize in cycling adventures around the world. Tasmania will always have a special place in their hearts, though — which is why they decided to create a video tribute to their home base, and show the world its particular beauty. We asked one half of the team, David, for some more insight into their adventures.
Tell us about your passion for biking? How did that get started and where else have you gotten to bike?
Jason and I (David) started cycling together in college. At that time it was really done as a form of procrastination, a good excuse to miss class, and soon enough it turned into a passion of ours. I think there’s something about a bike that gives you a sense of complete freedom. It’s such a simple machine, but gives you the ability to explore such large distances, which makes it the perfect tool for travel. I also find the symbolism of the bike so perfect for life. It creates a sense of community, teamwork, adventure, freedom, simplicity and sustainability… all these beautiful qualities come out when you ride a bike, and that’s something I want to continue to live by. We’ve been all over the world riding bikes from India (cycling the highest road in the world), circumnavigating Iceland, Wales, Italy, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand… the list goes on. I just honestly believe it’s the best way to see a country.
You mentioned that this film was a passion project. Why do you think it’s important to do these types of projects every now and then?
North South has always been a passion project and every film we create isn’t created with ulterior motives. We realized that life is short, so if we want to do something, we find a way to go and do it. That was what happened with our Iceland adventure. If you’re not working within your passions, then you’re not living a life that’s true to yourself.
How long were you in Tasmania for?
We were only there for three days. One day of planning the trip and catching up with family, one day riding (14 hours on the bike – 200km/4000m of climbing), and then the final day was spent getting extra footage.
What about Tasmania makes you want to reconnect with your roots?
There’s a feeling of freedom and solitude I get when I go home. Living in Melbourne, I’m always surrounded by noise, people, and everything that comes with living in a big city. Being brought up in such a small community and having nature on my doorstep makes me miss this lifestyle.
What are three things people would be surprised to learn about Tasmania?
- 45% of the island is protected in national parks or world heritage sites.
- It has the cleanest air in the World and its rainwater is so pure that quantities have been shipped to Australian Olympic Athletes competing overseas!
- A Huon pine tree in the south-west wilderness is estimated to be 4,000 years old, making it the oldest living thing on Earth.
What are three must-dos for newcomers to the area?
- Visit the east coast of Tasmania and do a hike over the hazards into Wineglass bay.
- Visit Cradle Mountain and either do a day hike or explore the overland track.
- Head to the south west coast (Port Davey – Bathurst harbour). This is Tassie’s best kept secret. It is home to some of the finest and most remote wilderness found anywhere in the world. There are no roads in this region; visits must be by boat, air or by foot.
What were you hoping to capture after completing this video?
The goal with this film was ultimately to try and inspire more people to look after this beautiful planet we call Earth. I wanted people to see the connection I had with Tasmania and look to their own surroundings wherever they are in the world to make a similar connection. Hopefully the film makes people want to reconnect with nature and as a result do their bit to try and protect the wild and wonderful places that still exist in the world.
What was one of your favorite moments of the trip that you caught on film?
Probably the most inspirational moment was when Jason climbed this big rock after we finished climbing Jacobs Ladder (the last climb of the day). It’s 1500m high and has these beautiful gravel switchbacks which is absolutely heaven for a cyclist! I took this drone shot of him looking out over the valley and when capturing it I knew that it’d be the pinnacle scene of the film. It just had this sense of complete freedom and accomplishment whilst also illustrating a sense of solitude (4:33 in the film for reference).
What type of gear did you use to capture you images and video?
Because we are on bikes we are limited to taking a very small amount of gear. This is typically what we take on our trips:
Sony A7Rii (stills)
Sony FE 16-35mm f/4
Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8
Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8
Phantom 4 (Aerials)
Circular Polariser and ND Filters
GoPro 3+ black (filming in the moment stuff)
Velbon Sherpa Tripod
Do you have any advice for aspiring video makers?
The biggest tip is just go out and do it. Find photographers or video creators that inspire you, watch a heap of YouTube tutorials, and start creating content in your own style. Also don’t worry about breaking gear — I know that sounds pretentious and ungrateful, but some of our best shots have come from pushing the limits in order to get the shot. If you start to see your equipment as tools, then you’ll start producing better content.
When on location and shooting, do you have a specific narrative in mind you want to capture or do you just go with the flow and shoot as much as possible?
When planning a cycling trip, we generally don’t do a heap of research. Usually Jason and I will pick a destination of interest, give ourselves a time period, and figure the rest out as we go. Of course, this style of travel isn’t for everyone — but we’ve found that some of our best memories and experiences have come from a spontaneous, unplanned idea. One of us will always have a GoPro rolling (we like to use a Peak Design backpack GoPro mount, with a GoPro black housing so that it’s camouflaged and people don’t know it’s recording) to capture in the moment footage which will be used as fillers to tell the story. The rest is done on the fly. I think if you script things out too much, you lose sight of the reason you are doing it in the first place, and end up creating content for likes or views. Our goal is always to create content that is authentic and real because we truly believe this is what connects with people. Anyone can go out and shoot amazing footage — but stories are what people relate to.
What makes a good travel video, in your opinion?
STORY STORY STORY! Amazing footage filmed in 6k, 4k, etc. is irrelevant. Story is key. Some of the best travel films I’ve watched have been shot on cameras under $1,000. You have to have a solid story — otherwise no will relate to it.
What is your thought process behind choosing the right music for your films?
I always search for music before piecing the film together. I know that there are lot of editors that prefer to do it the other way, but I like knowing what I’m working with, and then piecing the film around the music. I spend days searching for the perfect track that I believe suits the narrative, as I’m a firm believer that music makes or breaks a film.