Staggeringly, Cicerone is Andrew Telling’s 20th film for cycling brand Rapha but he’s already told them it’s his best. “I’ve put my cards on the table,” he says, “and I have this rare feeling of content with it, for now.”
Telling the story of a mega road trip through Europe, the film sidesteps so many cliches in favour of showing an honest vision of road cycling. The film is quiet and stripped back, with long, still shots of scenery, peppered with a few moments of action. With beautifully composed shots of the awesome scenery, which could easily stand alone as a landscape photo series, and footage of the cyclists sewn together, it makes for a compelling and moving narrative.
“I’m focused on finding simplicity in my work now,” Andrew explains, “being more confident to hold a shot for longer, or just allow the music to be louder like we do at the end of the film."
“I knew it had to be predominantly wide frame to give a sense of scale, but this would also provide me with a style to transition from. These are complemented by closer portraiture shots, to show the fatigue both Walter [Beckers] and Kendal [Noctor] were going through. I definitely held back for the first few days – it all felt too sunny and perfect, and I wanted to wait for them to get comfortable and less camera-aware.”
Andrew says that natural surroundings provided both advantages and challenges to his project. The varying light added a rich colour palette and character, painting the cyclists in warmer and darker tones “which mirrored how their bodies and minds were feeling throughout the trip”. Meanwhile it also kept him on his toes technically. “You’re at the mercy of the mountains and the weather, and forces you to make immediate decisions with shots otherwise they’re lost forever.”
Ultimately Andrew wanted it to be a real document of the people and places on this epic trip. “It’s about framing them as friends and individuals, showing the slowness and grit of riding climbs but also the bumps and fast descents. So there’s no slow-mo or camera gimmicks. I got to really immerse myself and find the story to tell.”
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