Working on previous Subaru productions, Patterson and those working with the rally teams from Subaru and Vermont SportsCar (Subaru technical partner for rally) speculated on how they could take the productions up a notch – often bantering about an NFL® Films- or HBO 24/7-style show. “We’ve always had this idea in the back of our heads to do something more ambitious and in-depth,” commented Patterson. “We started talking seriously about it in the middle of last year.”
As producer and principal cinematographer, Patterson has a high-pressure job that requires considerable planning, and he has an exceptional team working alongside him. Christopher Bowes is the director of postproduction and cocreator on the videos. The team is spread out, with Patterson on the West Coast and Bowes on the East Coast, and the Subaru team is headquartered in Vermont. “Christopher and I cowrite each episode, and then we each have strengths that complement each other in the field. We also bring in other talent to help when needed,” added Patterson. “There’s Brian, our voice-over guy; another editor, Adam Dowsett; and other camera operators when we need them.” Notes and flash drives traverse the North American continent during development and production.
In the first episode, footage from a number of venues from the 2012 season, the Vermont SportsCar shop, and SRT USA driver David Higgins’ hometown in Wales are cut together to introduce the team’s 2013 season.
Whereas other episodes will be more event-related, the first one sets up the series. “There was no event tied to the first one, so we could just build the story – build the introduction,” commented Patterson. “So we spent a lot of November and December working on story development, and what the story was going to tell – who the team is, and try to tie together SRT USA and SPRT. Rally and rallycross are two very different sports, but they’re run under the Vermont SportsCar banner, and it’s all Subaru WRX STIs – two different race series, but one unified effort.
“This year, we want to show the highs and lows, show the people behind the scenes – what goes into the whole season. We’ll go to the drivers’ houses, see how they prepare for the season, and things like that.
“One of the big things that comes with doing these rallies is the expertise that we’ve got in planning for the events. I do a reconnaissance and find camera positions, and – the part I really enjoy doing – schedule and plan our times to get from one spot to
another. It’s pretty interesting and fun.”
To drive all the stage roads, the camera recce usually takes two days before the event. Patterson picks out locations for a perfect camera shot or a junction where the cameramen can access a given stage. He tries to get shots from as many locations as possible because there are only a couple of cameras on the ground and they have to leapfrog the rally route to intercept the cars.
Patterson explained: “Once I’ve done that, I’ll sit down that night with the maps and my notes, and I will have timed some of the transit sections during the day. I figure, ‘OK, it’s 35 minutes from that junction on that stage to this junction on the other stage. It may only take them 45 minutes to get there, so I’ll have 10 minutes to spare.’ You’ve got to set up, get your shot, and move again. It’s something I take a lot of pleasure in figuring out. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Moving two or three cameras around a map is like a game of chess.”
The Formula Photographic team members enjoy the work they do. “Rally is an amazing sport to be involved in,” said Bowes, “and you couldn’t ask for a more dynamic subject matter.”