"It's a bit of a cliche, but if there is a zen to motocycle racing, what it is, is this intense focus on a very simple task."
- Mark Gardiner
Shot on location on the Isle of Man over the months leading up to, and including, the 2002 TT Races, One Man’s Island employs a distinct form and style to tell its story. The film is a personal portrait of one man’s experience, rather than a broad overview of the event or history of the race. Using images and sound recorded on location, and framed by the visual style of director and cinematographer Peter Riddihough, Mark Gardiner's story is expressed in his own words and through his own voice.
Many documentaries approach their subjects after the fact. One Man's Island attempts to capture the whole journey. In a world in which spectacle and celebrity are valued over experience, the film also offers a uniquely realistic view of success and achievement, a view that focuses on process rather than results. The film purposely avoids many of the clichés associated with its subject; it is not about speed, it is not about winning.
One Man's Island made using, for its time, the latest generation of digital video. This allowed Riddihough to act as his own director, cameraman and sound-recordist and the result was an intimate & spontaneous working relationship between filmmaker and subject. "There are many moments in the film that only happened because I was working alone." As such the film was crafted around two points of view: Riddihough’s camera and a camera rigged onboard Gardiner’s racebike (The GoPro had not yet been invented!!). With only these two perspectives, Riddihough was undaunted by the prospect of shooting a race without a crew to cover every angle. "I embraced the fact that the audience only sees the race from Mark's point of view. I didn't want you thinking about who was winning or losing but only to focus on Mark's pursuit of his dream."
Mark Gardiner was a successful Canadian advertising creative director when, in January 2002, at the age of 46, he quit his job, packed his bags and set off for the Isle of Man. He had only two things in mind: to race the TT and answer the question, why go racing?
Born in Vancouver, Gardiner learned to love racing motorcycles as a teenager in Calgary. "I was terrible at it… I never learned how to actually do it." Gardiner gave up the sport and chose a responsible career in advertising. Nevertheless the boyhood dream of racing never disappeared; in his 30's Gardiner started riding again, this time he began by learning how. He became an obsessive weekend amateur. Then, in his 40's, Gardiner was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Faced with the realisation that he might very soon not be able to ride at all, he began to dream once again of racing the TT.
By 2000, Gardiner had enough technical experience to qualify as an international entrant; his AMA (American Motorcycling Association) and FIM 'expert' status made him eligible for direct entry into the TT, and his goal was in sight.
"In many ways, I'm typical of 40-something, born-again bikers," said Gardiner in 2002. "The difference is that instead of just coming back to riding, I came back to racing, earning an expert license. That said, I think my value as a motorcycle writer is that my perspective is one of the average rider, not a racing star."
Gardiner complimented the events documented in One Man’s Island with his book "Riding Man", and from there established himself as a highly popular writer in the field of motorcycling. He has written for Motorcyclist, Cycle World, MCM, Bike, Classic Bike and Motorcycle USA.com and is also the author of several books on the subject ranging from "Classic Motorcycles", a cultural history of the motorcycle, to his highly popular, “Bathroom Book of Motorcycle Trivia.”
Mark Gardiner lives in Kansas City, Missouri, but continues to travel the world in search of great motorcycle stories.
Peter Riddihough is a writer, director and cinematographer. His work combines a dynamic story-telling ability with strong visual style, and includes documentary and narrative films, television commercials, online marketing and communication work, and projection design for the stage. His distinct black & white still photographs have been published in a variety of magazines and books.
One Man's Island was Riddihough's first feature film and first full-length documentary film. It was followed by the highly successful feature documentary "Jump" which profiled a trio of basejumpers in Toronto. Recent work includes the narrative short film "The Ballad of Gloria Sedgwick."
Born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised on Canada's west coast, Riddihough studied film at Ryerson University and now lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
The Isle of Man has been host to the TT, "Tourist Trophy", races since 1907. On a course consisting of 38 miles of public roads through country fields and villages, riders from all over the world race against the clock in an extreme test of man and machine. It is a truly unique competition, both in terms of form and location. Regarded as the world's most challenging motorcycle event, the TT has witnessed the sports' greatest riders and manufacturers in often-mortal combat. Beyond its history and location, however, the TT has a fundamental appeal to every rider; it is a perfect test of ability, on the open road, you race against yourself.
The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea equidistant between Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. It is a self-governing kingdom with its own parliament & currency. The Manx tongue is a form of Gaelic and is the official language of the island. Peppered with castles, crosses and thatch cottages, the island's rich Celtic culture stretches back 10,000 years. The island is 33 miles long, 13 miles wide and has a population of about 72,000.
"The decision to go racing has meaning precisely because, when you go out there, the consequences of an error can be disastrous."
- Mark Gardiner