A D I F F E R E N T K i n d o f R o a d M o v i e
A Strabane man is in the process of putting the finishing touches to a road documentary he has been working on for three and a half years. James McGarrigle, who teaches Interactive Media at North West Regional College, filmed ‘Uneasy Rider’ during his annual summer road trips across the UK and Ireland. Speaking to the ‘Herald’, he explains that the idea for the documentary came about when he was planning to make a completely different kind of film.
“It started off as a couch-surfing piece. Every summer for the past few years I’ve been travelling for about eight or nine weeks on my own and using the Couchsurfing website to sort out accommodation. Initially I thought I’d just focus on the couch-surfing side but even by that stage similar documentaries had already been done so it developed into something different,” James explains.
The film took on a more philosophical leaning, where James started asking people he meet on the road questions he was just curious to know the answer to. This developed into questions and ideas of good and bad, fear generated by media, recession and life in general.
“I leave Derry on my bike before the Peace Bridge is even built and by the time I return the bridge is built and open. In between this period some of the questions get rather dark, with issues of depression and suicide addressed. However, as it moves along the more positive aspects such as meaning and purpose come to the fore,” says James.
Working on the project alone was a demanding task, with James videoing, writing, editing and producing the whole thing himself. “I didn’t look for any outside funding because there then tends to be restrictions on what you envisaged for the project. This way I have full control and first and final say,” he insists.
The title of the documentary is a nod to the classic counter-culture biker film ‘Easy Rider’ but it also has a more literal meaning. “Some travel to escape but you can’t escape your own head, you travel with it and that’s the uneasy part of it. Being on the road on a bike may have a romanticised, fantasised element to it, but there’s no such thing as running into the sunset away from your problems or the world around you,” explains James.
“People all have questions they ask themselves at night in their private moments,” he adds. “This documentary asks those questions during the day, on the road and you’d be surprised how willing people are to respond to some guy coming along on a bike. I’m not coming along in a suit with a camera and notebook. There is definitely a difference in the way people will interact with you in those instances.”
‘Uneasy Rider’ will hopefully be finished come the end of June and then the plan is to hit the road once again to the film festivals. “It’s a piece about travelling and if it helps me to travel once again to promote it and come in contact with like-minded people once again then it gives it all a purpose,” concludes James.