making south by scooter

MAKING SXS: Official Mission Sneakers

‘Making SXS’  is a series of posts documenting exactly how I made my film South By Scooter, from conception, thru production, to release. To see the full series of posts click here.

One of the completed South By Scooter Official Mission Sneakers

One of the completed South By Scooter Official Mission Sneakers

Before I started work on South By Scooter I was developing a story that featured a pair of shoes in almost every picture. That story is still a work in progress, so I wont say more than that, but I guess I had shoes on my mind. 

Initially I thought the South By Scooter Survival Suit would be a bit more like the space suit from Max To Moon - made from odds and ends that I found around the place and thrown together. But as progress on the survival suit continued I found myself making more and more of it from scratch. I realized I would need something to wear on my feet, and that if I bought shoes they would stick out like a sore thumb. By this point in the project I was so into making stuff that I figured I could whip up a pair of shoes no problem! Especially with my trusty new sewing machine. 

As seems to be a common theme in these making of posts/most of the South By Scooter production process - I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I just made it up. I didn't have a pattern or anything to work from so I eyeballed a couple of pairs of desert boots and tried to figure out how they were put together. I broke them down mentally into their basic parts and got to work with felt and scissors. The design for my sneakers came together by hand.

I chose gold for the main colour so that the sneakers would match the backpack and stand out from the red of the survival suit and the orange of the scooter deck.

It took about two and a half days to make the pair. The first day was spent hammering out exactly how the shoes would work. I cut out the pieces for one shoe and pinned them together. I was guessing the whole time, I can’t stress enough how little I know about how shoes are made! I tried them on very carefully a few times, cutting down the pieces until they were the right size. 

The second day was spent making a template from the original pieces, deciding where the felt needed to be several pieces thick for durability, adding design details such as the trims, arrows and ‘M’s, and then sewing like mad, making things up as I went.

The design came together very organically. I really did just make it up as I went along. I still can't believe I made a pair of sneakers... I suppose technically they're more like shoe-shaped-slippers... But they sure look like sneakers! Mad sneakers!

I'll be back next week with another making of post. Until then If you haven’t seen it you should check out the film. If you have any questions you can get in touch with me on twitter @maxpiantoni or use the contact page.
 
 

MAKING SXS: The Scooter.

‘Making SXS’  is a series of posts documenting exactly how I made my film South By Scooter, from conception, thru production, to release. To see the full series of posts click here.

This deleted scene from South By Scooter gives the Official Mission Scooter the diagram treatment.

This deleted scene from South By Scooter gives the Official Mission Scooter the diagram treatment.

There’s something so awesome about exploration vehicles. Take The Discovery from 2001 A Space Odyssey, Bathyscaphe Trieste, or the Apollo Lunar Module for example. These vehicles are more than just transportation, they are characters themselves, enablers of epic adventures, extensions of explorers bodies, and they are homes - protecting their inhabitants from the outside world as they plunge toward their goals... It was in this spirit that I created the South By Scooter Official Mission Scooter.

It took three attempts to build a scooter that would be suitable for the South By Scooter mission. I have always admired the economy of the design popularized by the ‘Razor Scooter’, a popular method of transport that I badly wanted when I was in primary school but never had. Finding one of these scooters and riding it around was the catalyst for the idea that became South By Scooter, so I figured that was as good a place to start as any for my design.

As with all of the props in my film I attempted to create an archetypal - cartoony - design... How little does it take to describe a scooter? Basically it’s an L with wheels...

Mk 1: The Cardboard Scooter.

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I knew from the outset that the scooter wouldn’t actually have to scoot - as the plan was to move the set around the action, rather than the action around the set. With this in mind I figured a sturdy cardboard scooter (with cardboard wheels) would do the trick, and whipped this one up in an afternoon. 

The cardboard scooter looked cool but literally fell apart when I stood on it. I was worried that Filming would be impossible If I was constantly stopping to re-build the scooter, so I went back to the drawing board... So to speak. There were no drawings.

Mk 2: The Conduit Scooter.

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The inspiration behind the second scooter was to build it out of conduit piping and gaffer tape, which is cheap, colourful and chunky. Great! So I dragged Liz down to the hardware store and bought a whole heap of conduit, some ‘conduit connector bits’, and gaffer tape. Liz was bored out of her mind! But whatever, I got my materials.

 

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Dad taught me how to use a Japanese hacksaw and I went to town on the piping, again making up my scooter design completely as I went along. I sawed, and sawed, and sawed, and used up what seemed like kilometres of tape. By the end of it I had my conduit scooter. I retained the cardboard wheels of the first scooter and even build a little axle assembly out of smaller gage conduit.

I was pretty proud of myself! I thought I had it, so I packed everything up and brought the scooter into my room, even showing it off to a few people. But it didn’t feel right. This scooter had none of the simplicity that I admire so much in small folding scooter designs. It didn’t look much like a scooter, and it was massive!! Also... Cardboard wheels!? Nah.

Mk 3: The South By Scooter Official Mission Scooter.

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After a couple of days of being pretty grossed out by the hulking mess of plastic that was my second scooter, I set about making the simplest and most compact design that I could with the conduit that I had left. I kept the handlebars and vertical bar from the second scooter and scrapped the rest.

I realized I needed to get some proper wheels so that the thing would actually be able to roll around and take my weight. I went to the local department store and found a kids scooter kit that had a great front wheel assembly. I bought two kits (the back wheels weren’t suitable) and took them home. Conveniently the wheel assembly was the perfect size to jam into the conduit! So I used the wheels and discarded the rest of the kit components. 

This scooter came together beautifully, with a much more straightforward design, way better colour scheme, and more of that stereotypical scooter look that I wanted. It even kind of works as a scooter if you ride it in a particular way...

I made some felt hand grips for comfort, added some extra tape (just in case) and customized it with some big ‘M’s for Max. The South By Scooter Official Mission Scooter was complete!!

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The not-quite-complete South By Scooter Official Mission Scooter.

The not-quite-complete South By Scooter Official Mission Scooter.

I'll be back next week with another making of post. Until then If you haven’t seen it you should check out the film. If you have any questions you can get in touch with me on twitter @maxpiantoni or use the contact page.

MAKING SXS: The Survival Suit.

‘Making SXS’  is a series of posts documenting exactly how I made my film South By Scooter, from conception, thru production, to release. To see the full series of posts click here.

An early design for the South By Scooter survival suit.

An early design for the South By Scooter survival suit.

One of the very first images that came to me for South by Scooter was that of Max enthusiastically wrapped for warmth in a massive tangle of scarves. Every great adventurer needs an outfit and this, I decided, would be perfect my adventure to the South Pole.

The Scarf Suit - First Attempt:

A rough first attempt at the survival suit

A rough first attempt at the survival suit

My initial idea was to buy the scarves, and to somehow pin them together into a massive suit that I could slip on over my head. I wanted it to look like my mum had frantically whipped around the house before I left gathering every scarf she could find and wrapping me up to keep me warm... 

I got myself a hoody, a bunch of scarves and  some nappy pins and gave it a shot. But it didn’t really work. The scarves weren’t ‘scarfy’ enough. As is often the case with what I do - the real object looked less convincing than a fake one would!

The Scarf Suit - Second Attempt:

Work in progress on the first scarf.

Work in progress on the first scarf.

I realized that for Max to truly inhabit his imagined Antarctica, he had to be made from felt just like his provisions and much of the world around him.

Some of the scarfs - incomplete.

Some of the scarfs - incomplete.

So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a ‘more advanced’ survival suit based on some scarfs of my own design. Using the South By Scooter mission colours - red, gold, and purple - I attempted to design an iconic felt scarf, one that communicated the fact that it was a scarf in a cartoony kind of way. This meant patches of colour and chunky tassels on the end. 

At first I toyed with the idea of creating just one long scarf that I could wrap around myself to form the suit, but this didn’t achieve the scarf-overload look that I wanted.

The short scarfs.

The short scarfs.

After testing various different ways that I could wear it I settled on using the long scarf as the ‘neck scarf’ to form the top portion of the suit, and then produced a number of smaller scarfs to tie around my torso and cover my legs.

I had no idea how many scarfs I would need so I just kept making them and making them... I kept on trying them on and thinking ‘needs more scarfs’, I still think that... but I had to draw the line somewhere: I ended up with nine. The neck scarf is roughly 4.7 meters long and the others are each around 1.7 meters long.

It was the scarves that made me give in and buy a sewing machine. I’d never used one before South By Scooter, but if I hadn’t picked on up I would still be sewing scarfs!

The Hood.

Robert Peary  the first man to reach the North Pole.

Robert Peary the first man to reach the North Pole.

Max in his Survival Suit.

Max in his Survival Suit.

In the Polar exploration lookbook you tend to see a lot of awesome hoods. No legitimate explorer would dare set off without one, and I am no exception!

I really liked the idea of my hood being separate to the body of my suit so that I could take it off like an Astronaut's helmet. This seemed like a pretty desirable/awesome feature to have especially because it was summer and my survival suit would be my home for the duration of the filming/mission (I didn’t make a tent).

As with just about everything on this project I had no idea how to make a hood... So I just kind of guessed and made it up as I went along. The design came together as a big padded hood with felt a felt ‘fur lining’. I sewed the felt ‘fur’ pieces on individually by hand which took what seemed like forever hurt my little fingers (once you have a few layers felt is pretty tough to get through).

The sore fingers were worth it. The hood is warm, comfortable, and lends tremendous credibility to every exploratory action I take whilst wearing it!

The hood - in progress.

The hood - in progress.

Bonus - Dad wearing the hood. It suits him better!

Bonus - Dad wearing the hood. It suits him better!

The Mittens.

The mittens.

The mittens.

Given the icy conditions in Antarctica, mittens were essential. The mittens are a good example of how you should never just assume a task will be easy.. I had to re-make them several times because I kept on making them too small for my hands. Eventually I hit on the correct size and made them a little more heavy duty with some trim and some faux-leather felt pads which were inspired by my cat Reg’s paws.

The Shoes.

The shoes are a whole other story!

The shoes are a whole other story!

Perhaps the craziest part of the survival suit is the official mission sneakers. But I want to show you exactly how I made them so I’m going to save them for another post. 

 

 

 

The South By Scooter Survival Suit:

Finished! The Official South By Scooter Survival Suit.

Finished! The Official South By Scooter Survival Suit.

So that’s how I made the survival suit for South By Scooter. I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll be back next week with another installment of Making South By Scooter.

Until then, if you haven’t seen it you should check out the film. If you have any questions you can get in touch with me on twitter @maxpiantoni or use the contact page.