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Behind the Shoot: Our best Video Yet

A look into the adventure of filming with a Navy SEAL turned Nascar Driver

A Letter From the Producer: Kyle Bush of Cumberland Creative

Shooting this American Spirit episode with Taylor Canfield was nothing short of an adventure for our three-man team. None of us has ever been to Bakersfield or a Nascar race for that matter. So we had no idea what to expect, but we were ready for whatever lay ahead.

 

The shoot days had a strict schedule due to the nature of a race weekend. The first shoot day was also the "practice" day for racers. Luckily they didn't allow crews in the track until late morning so we took the early morning hours to get out in the mountains and get some epic "hero" training footage. We met up with Taylor at a gas station in the sticks. We were immediately set at ease for the production after spending a few minutes chatting with Taylor and seeing how easy going and cool headed he was. We knew it would be easy to work with him. These are the shots you see of Taylor running across the ridge-line, etc. Taylor made this process super easy and was totally down to hike up some big dusty mountains to get the shots we needed. He even surprised us with a few solid shot ideas that panned out really well.

Later on, we met up with Taylor at the track and were introduced to his whole crew, all of which were volunteers, unlike most of the other highly funded teams. People started piling up in the parking lot waiting for the anticipated green-light to head into the pits and get to prepping the cars for practice later that afternoon. There was an unmistakable air of excitement and anticipation as all the racers, crews, teams, and family got ready to get things rolling for the weekend.
Once the gate was opened it was a bit of madness, people rushed in and jumped straight into unpacking the cars, tires, tools, supplies etc from trailers and begging to get the cars practice ready. These dudes were serious about their jobs and getting ready, so we did our best to get the shots we needed without getting in the way and slowing down this well-oiled machine of a pit. Though the guys knew their stuff and seemed to be well rehearsed, our team could not help but notice the underdog aspect of this story we learned of in pre-production. We looked around from our spot which had a big pick up totting a noticeably weather white pull behind trailer, and saw huge, pristinely cleans and shiny big rigs complete with elevators like lift kits for the cars and color wraps with the racers name, number, colors, and seemingly endless amount of sponsor decals. For a visual sake, it felt like we were a 98 Toyota Corolla with mismatched doors and a broken window surrounded by brand new Rolls Royces and Bentleys. The difference in funding was evident, to say the least. Which made capturing the story a little easier for us.
As the crew prepped the cars everything was rolling and seemed to be going smooth. Decals were going on, tires were being rolled out and put on, and there was a bizarrely endless amount of what we coined "wrenching" going down as the 4 to 5 man crew seemed to no stop have a wrench cranking on something. This was the MO all around the pit and teams getting the cars ready for the limited windows of practice laps the racers got to hone in on the track, strategy, and tweak their cars. A few hours in the first practice hour was coming up. The teamed seemed a little behind as other cars hit the track and began hauling ass around the track. The minute this started we were glad that we had thought to hit Walgreens to grab some earplugs on our way over.

The cars continued piling out and just behind the curve Taylor and his crew began getting ready to hit the track. We filmed carefully to get the shots of Taylor suiting up and getting in the car to hit the track. Once he was in, we got in our spots for the best shot of him rolling out into the track and got ready for launch. Taylor got the thumbs up from the crew, hit the switch and..... nothing. The car barely made a noise. The crew didn't seem to phased and Taylor sat calming suited up in the driver seat while the team went through some checks and determined they just needed to charge the battery up for five minutes or so. Time passed and he got the green light again, hit the switch- same result, nothing. They tweaked the hookups on the battery and charged more. This did nothing.

Not long after the crews calm and confident demeanor grew more anxious and more puzzled. The charging was doing nothing and Taylor finally decided to exit the car and his suit. I couldn't blame him We were sweating our asses off and we were not in a small steel cage of a car in a full flameproof race suit and helmet. We talked to a few crew members, no one really knew the issue but everyone seemed confident the crew would use their experience, troubleshoot, and have the issue solved shortly. As super valuable practice hours began passing, the crew was hard at work trying to get this thing figured out. We were impressed with the effort and urgency they went at it with.

 

The first practice came to end without the team getting the car to start and their work continued. Hours passed and the crew began, understandably, so getting more anxious irritated, and puzzled. Tempers were tested and some were lost as no progress was made. As time continued, this intensified, as crew members began to really get frustrated and irritated at the issue and lack of success no matter what they tried, but not Taylor. Taylor had been leading the effort of the crew on his car the whole time. As tempers flared and attempted starts showed no progress Taylor seemed completely unfazed. Crew members came and went throughout the hours as they tried and failed, but Taylor stayed at the car working. For what lead to be somewhere around 10 hours straight. We never saw Taylor show the slightest sign of losing his cool. He kept his head down with a hyper-focused and worked non stop 10 hours straight into the night on the car. Time was running thin.

 

The second and final practice had gone by the day and from what we gathered there no solution was in sight. The time to get off the track for the night was approaching fast. It was not looking good for the team at all. The car had seemed to make no progress the entire day and night. Thirty minutes or so before the track would close and force everyone off, another crew from a big well-funded team, who surely witnessed the efforts of Taylor, came over to see if they could help. His fresh perspective and training led him to check some things out. Finally, in movie-like fashion with no time on the clock, they replaced a battery did a few other things and went to start the car again. To everyone's surprise, it cranked up.

Taylor gave a quick look of relief, thanked the guy, and then went about packing things up for the night and prepping for tomorrow.
We left impressed by what went down and couldn't help but be impressed with Taylor. We didn't see a single driver touch their cars, that was the job of the crew. Taylor stepped up and took complete ownership of the situation. He led the charge and worked his ass off to get the car started, and never once seemed to be even noticeably frustrated or did he even take a minute to step away from the car for a minute. As the film crew, we were waiting and assumed they would call it for the day and try to come back fresh tomorrow to figure it out. This moment never came. It was obvious looking back that the idea of "calling it for the day" was never a thought.
We left that night tired from a long day on our feet in the heat out on the track. Smashed some In and Out Burger, got to bed knowing we had an early morning and long day for Race day tomorrow.
Race day went smooth. We got to the track around 6 am that morning, filmed things unfolded, conducted our interviews as scheduled. With the exception of having to barter/beg the dude on the track sweeper to take a 20-minute pause from his endless sweeping session so we could get some quiet for the interview. If you look closely in the top right of the frame you can see him pacing around his machine, and pointing at his watch at us to hurry.
The rest of the race day went smoothly. It was crazy to see all the hours and work that went into the race. These teams drove across country in huge rigs with full teams, spent two whole days working and practicing, arriving on race day early in the morning and working through the day until it was finally racing time around 8-9 pm. The actual race was pretty cool. It was an hour-long blur of running around the track trying to get every shot we were allowed to get. Around 11 pm the race was over and teams were packing their cars and rigs up. We snagged Taylor's Team, manager (Kent) for an interview. You can see teams rolling out from the race behind him as we get his perspective on Taylor as a persona and driver.
We wrapped the interview, packed up the gear, helped load up the trailer, and left for the 45-minute drive back to the Airbnb officially wrapping the shoot after a solid 17 hour filming day. We knew this was going to be our best work yet. After the editing yielded the first proof we knew we were right.
Working with Taylor was an honor. Besides serving our country as a SEAL with several deployments, Taylor is just a cool, salt of the earth dude. We are hoping he lands all the funding he needs to compete at a higher level and our hope is that this video helps him share his story reach his goals. We are also hoping/pushing for an Episode 2.

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