Wednesday, 8 September 2010

VOR: Rick Deppe to Manage Media Crew

by Sophie Luther

Rick Deppe has joined the team at Volvo Ocean Race HQ as Associate Producer and Media Crew Member (MCM) Manager for the 2011-12 race.

Deppe will have a hand in production and will work with the onboard media crew both before and throughout the 9-month odyssey, helping the new MCMs do the best job possible in the tough conditions for which the Volvo Ocean Race is renowned.

Rick's inspiring career as both professional sailor and filmmaker will stand him in good stead for his new role, and the lessons he learned as media crew for Puma on the last race will be particularly useful. "I look forward to bringing everything I've learned in the last time around on the Volvo Ocean Race, everything I've learned in my career doing "Deadliest Catch" and shooting "Morning Light", bringing all of that to bear," Rick enthused.

"My job in this race basically will be taking the MCM project to a whole new level," Rick declared. He noted that the Media Crew Members did a great job last time, but hopes that with his help, they will be able to achieve even more. "In the last race I was part of the Media Crew Member experiment, and because it was so new - it had never been done, putting an embedded journalist / cameraman / sailor on one of these boats - there was enthusiasm, and some sailors and sponsors thought it was fantastic."

Rick knows just how hard it is being on these powerful boats and how hard it is to work on them as a cameraman. "It's a very difficult environment to be a cameraman, when you're being tipped over, bouncing, trying to film with the wind noise and water flying everywhere," he recalled. "The rules to being a cameraman normally are ‘always get a steady shot', ‘always keep your lenses clean', ‘get great audio', and all the other basic rules. But they all have to go out the window, when you get on a Volvo Open 70."

"Being on a Volvo Open 70 is a unique environment, probably like no other on earth," he said. "It can be a very frightening environment; and then there's all the interpersonal stuff - being crammed into a little carbon fibre drum with ten other guys, some who may like cameras getting stuck in their faces while their trying to do their jobs and others that may not."

"I think the hardest aspect is the interpersonal part, being in tight with the team; when bad things happen, being willing to go there, stick the camera in their face, and be with him the next day," he explained. "Normally, Volvo Ocean Race sailors are tough guys, they don't cry or fight with one another. And sometimes being friends makes it harder, because you don't want to make them look not even the slightest bit bad, embarrassed or show them in a vulnerable moment or having a bad day. You really have to figure out a way to coexist."

So finding the right person for each team is vital, and Rick is already helping some of the teams with the selection process for the 2011-12 race. "It probably won't be my decision, but I'm trying to help out. And they really want to get it right."

Before getting onboard with Puma as their MCM in 2008-09, Deppe had worked on several filming projects for Discovery Channel like "Deadliest Catch" and "Morning Light", and he already had years of experience as an offshore sailor including several round-the-world races, sailing as a bowman on Fortuna in the 1993-94 Whitbread and on Chessie Racing in the 1997-98 race.

For Rick, the timing of the PUMA project was perfect. "If this would have happened eight years ago, it wouldn't be such a great thing for me; if it would have been ten years from now, I would be over the hill. It just sort of landed at my feet. I was just in the right place at the right time in my life."

For PUMA, it was really important to get their message out in a way that suited their brand. "One goal is winning the race and the other goal is commercial, so it was important for them to have someone on those boats to tell their story," Rick explained. "The beauty of the Volvo Ocean Race is that it lasts nine months and you have nine months of amazing coverage and profiling of your brand or your company."

At the end of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, Deppe was awarded the Inmarsat Media Prize for his excellent filmwork on ill mostro. After a vacation in Ireland, Deppe picked up other projects like "Swords", spending a month onboard a fishing boat making a documentary about long-lining for swordfish in the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic.

Rick then joined BMW Oracle Racing as an embedded filmmaker with their America's Cup campaign and seemed convinced that he didn't want to do another Volvo Ocean Race. "The Volvo Ocean Race is physically challenging as a media crew member," he explained. "You're cooped up in a little hole, bent over in a horrible position, getting dripped on, not sleeping well. It's a tough environment physically on the body and in some ways, it was one of my reasons for not doing it again."

But shortly after finishing the America's Cup in Valencia, Deppe started talking with Adam Binns, Director of Television for the Volvo Ocean Race. They spoke about Deppe working on the race, but this time contributing his skills and knowledge as both sailor and Media Crew Member.

Rick's experience will be perfect to train the MCM's before the race and to help them understand they obstacles the will encounter during their journey. But he will also leave them to their creativity so that they can experience for themselves all the sensations he's lived through. "It will involve training, and getting everybody on the same page. But also at the same time, leaving each guy to express himself, his team, his own character and the character of his team as best he can."

"As we get nearer and nearer to the race, I think I'll probably step back a little bit and just let them get on with their job," he stated. "I'll surely be mentoring in the first couple of legs, then step more into a producing role here at the Volvo Ocean Race. Because of my knowledge of the race, I'll be able to explain what certain things mean, why one film from one boat connects to a film from another boat and how we can bring the stories together."

"During the race, hopefully I'll be good support and a shoulder to cry on for the MCMs."

Rick has already been active in his new role interviewing his old skipper and friend Ken Read in the PUMA Ocean Racing headquarters in Newport, Rhode Island. In Deppe's in-depth interview Kenny explains his thoughts behind the next race and the future for his project - all filmed on an iphone!

Video: Ken Read, PUMA Ocean Racing, and Rick Deppe, Volvo Ocean Race, sign on:

Volvo Ocean Race