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Cycle Across Unova Interview February 27, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Interviews.

Happy Pokémon Day everyone! One of the greatest things I love of Pokémon fandom is seeing all the original content Pokémon fans have produced over the past twenty years. One of those projects is Cycle Across Unova, a documentary where a bunch of filmmakers will make a trek across New York City, the real-world inspiration for the Unova region from Pokémon Black and Pokémon White. The team will document all the famous NYC landmarks that could have inspired Game Freak’s Generation 5 games, all while traveling on bikes! The best part about this is they plan to to release the finished documentary for free online.

I was fortunate enough to get the chance to talk with one of the minds behind the project, Steven Aymond, of Gravity Dog Productions. Let’s see if we can get him to spill the beans about anything they haven’t already announced about their plans for the documentary!

Maniac: First off, thank you so much for taking the time away from your busy schedules to do this interview. To start, I was wondering if you could fill my readers in on your background in the film industry?

Stephen: No problem at all, and of course. I’ve been filming, editing, and animating since 2002, but it was around mid-2011 that I obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production. I’ve been producing content professionally for seven years as a producer, director, and animator. I’ve worked for several tv studios and advertising agencies producing content for Disney, PBS, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and many others; as well as helping pioneer a new local tv channel in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve recently left the corporate scene and turned to starting my own company as well as establishing a working relationship with my friend’s business Gravity Dog Productions with the goal of producing our own original content fulltime. To see some of my works, take a look at my demo reel: https://vimeo.com/195188188

Maniac: What inspired you to make Cycle Across Unova?

Stephen: We first intended to create ‘Cycle Across Kanto’, a much larger scaled project, exploring the entire south-eastern region of Japan which inspired the land of the first Pokémon games ‘Red & Blue’. Without a large enough following however, raising the funds proved difficult, so we decided to start off smaller with NYC and then work our way up.

Maniac: What kind of equipment will you be using to make the film?

Stephen: We’ll be riding on a couple of fold-able Campo bikes by EuroMini. Their lightweight and space-saving nature will help with the speed at which we travel and securing them each night. We’re shooting this doc on the EVA1 camera by Panasonic. It’s an incredible camera. We’re also taking along the DJI Pro, an incredible drone, to get some dynamic, bird’s eye shots. As well as the usual equipment: lenses, boom mic, lavaliers, tripod, lights, and a rental car for the cinematographers.

Maniac: How long have you and your team been Pokémon fans?  What started your fandom?

Stephen: My friends and I all started with Gen 1 in ’98. We must have all been 8 and younger then. What caught my eye was the first episode airing on… I wanna say WB Kids? Is that still a thing? [Editors Note: Sadly no.] It was actually the first anime I had ever seen as well, so the style really caught my eye. It captured me.

Maniac: Could you give us a hint as to some possible locations you plan to feature during your journey?

Stephen: You can view the entire itinerary on our GoFundMe page. Hop on over there to check it out! gofundme.com/cycleacrossunova

Maniac: With fair use being a very important tool, which today’s filmmakers use to make their content, do you plan to use any archived audio/video from the franchise’s history during your documentary?

Stephen: No, we won’t be using any video footage from the franchise. We want to keep this project running under fair use to the best of our abilities, so all visuals and audio you’ll experience will be produced by our own means.

Maniac: Do you have a final running time you expect to aim for?

Stephen: We’re hoping to capture this in a feature-length format (90 minutes) but, because of budget constraints, we’re most likely looking at a traditional tv-hour (45-60 minutes).

Maniac: You had announced Cycle Across Kanto as a possible crowdfunded project before announcing Cycle Across Unova. If this project is successful, would you still like to produce Cycle Across Kanto, perhaps as a sequel?

Stephen: Absolutely. Think of Cycle Across Unova as a pilot for an entire ‘Cycle Across’ series. We hope to capture every location that each title is based on: Japan, New York, France, Hawaii, and whatever else is next to come! If ‘Cycle Across Unova’ proves successful, we’re looking at Hawaii next to cover the Alola region.

Maniac: What can my readers do to help you make this film? Once completed, how will people be able to watch it?

Stephen: The obvious things readers can do is share the project and, if they’re in love with the idea, donate to our cause, but, above all else, watch the completed video when it comes out early next year! There are incentives for donating as well. We don’t intend to release the film until 2019, but backers who donate $25 or more will receive an early-access Blu-ray around September this year!

Maniac: Finally, I’m sure everyone would love to know what your favorite Pokémon memory is.

Stephen: Honestly, my favorite Pokémon-related memory is recording everything for our ‘Cycle Across Kanto’ and ‘Cycle Across Unova’ trailers last September. (It’s hard to believe we’ve been working on this project for six months now.) It was a lot of hard work and a lot of money we didn’t have putting them together. Too many obstacles to count got in our way yet we tackled them one-by-one, but those are a story for another day.

Maniac: This all sounds fantastic. Thank you so much for your time. We are really looking forward to the finished product.

I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Special thanks again to Stephen Aymond of Gravity Dog Productions for talking with us about this documentary. If you’d like to know more about the project you can visit their GofundMe Page. Until next time, hope you all had a Happy Pokémon Day!


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