Wednesday, July 1


Big Dave Interviews 'Barker'. Images: William J. Le Petomane

It’s pretty commonplace to read about how personal internet experiences have turned sour and it’s all ended with thrown toys and tears.

On the other hand I’ve ‘met’ an astonishing array of people who have become friends and with whom I simply connected, more than just a buddy list.

Some have a personality that is bright enough to shine through the written word and the letters you are looking at on your monitor right now.

Netizens with interesting stories to tell.

There's this mad Viking in Sweden who drag races turbocharged Triumph Bonnevilles. Even though we about as opposite as two places can be – we’re close - and we’ll likely never meet in person.

Occasional KR contributor Peter Jenks is another that has become a pal from long distance, Salisbury UK to Auckland.

I met ‘Barker’ while dribbling-on about Buell motorcycles in the Buell specific forums.

‘There’s an open mind’ was my first impression on reading some of the thoughts he expressed. On the back of that first impression I went on to discover more about the man.

When I logged on to his profile page and read this personal quote:

Got laid off when they closed that asbestos factory, and wouldn't you know it, the army cuts my disability pension because they said that the plate in my head wasn't big enough. Every time Katherine revved up the microwave Id piss my pants and forget who i was for half an hour or so. Well I am Married to my wife Kath and have two kids and my dog Snotz. Watch out for Snotz hes got a little Mississippi Leg..heh heh if you know what I mean. It's better to let him finish. Let him have a ride and he'll take you all the way to town. I've been out of work for the past seven years. Kath says I should find some temporary work to help pay the bills but I'm holding out for a management position. So with the extra money I bought me a Recreational Vehicle and she is a Beaut... Only problem is the Shitter gets backed up whenever I eat too much of that Mexican food.

I knew he was a man I needed to talk to.

That and the stunning arrays of images of motorcycles, women on motorcycles and action video he was posting up at the time.

So I buttonholed him publicly online for an interview, and went straight to my in depth, probing, Big Dave steely eyed, '60 Seconds' style.

BD: So, Barker, Tell us about some of your recent projects? How did you get started in cinematography?

BARKER: Where it all started:

At age 16 -- a week after I got my driver's license -- I drove to the nearest TV station, found the owner, and told him I wanted to learn to make TV shows.

He took a chance on me and told me to show up Saturday morning at 5 a.m.

I did just that. For the next few weekends, I watched the producer and director work on the weekend programming (news, talk shows, a country music video show, and a televangelist show).

One weekend when I showed up, there was no producer or director to be found. I stepped up and somehow did both of their jobs for the day. (One of my gifts in life is my ability to watch someone do something and remember the sequence and details very well.)

When the owner showed up later that day and discovered me covering for the producer and director, he fired those guys and hired me. So as a high school junior, I found myself producing and directing 3-8 TV shows on the weekend.

I fell in love with the job.

BD: Whereabouts was School - home town?

BARKER: I grew up on a farm near Martinsville, VA in a little community known as ‘Horsepasture.’

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Martinsville's only current claim to fame is its NASCAR track where drivers like Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, Rex White and Wendell Scott got their start.

I found growing up near a NASCAR track to be an annoyance. Imagine a sea of 60,000 shirtless rednecks screaming at the top of their lungs while throwing chicken bones and beer cans.

In its heyday, this little town was known for being home to several textiles and furniture manufacturing industry giants.

When I was growing up, Martinsville was home to DuPont’s largest nylon plant, Lee Jeans, Tultex Corp. (at one time the largest textile company), Nike Apparel, Basset Furniture, Stanley Furniture, Ridgeway Clocks, American of Martinsville Furniture, Hooker Furniture and other various manufacturing companies.

Just about everyone in the area worked in a factory--until NAFTA. These days, nearly all of the factories have shut down. It makes me glad my parents beat into my head that I had to figure a way out of the town and not work in a factory or on farm.

Here’s a deeper look at what Martinsville is facing: ts/31nascar.html

‘Education?’ That is a question I get all the time. ‘What did you study or where did you go to school to get a job like yours?’

In elementary, middle and high school I was a below average student. I almost flunked out a few times. I was often placed in Special Education programs because of my dyslexia.

My parents spent lots of money on summer tutors for me. School was always a drag for me. Technically I should not have graduated high school. Every year we got to "pick" our electives and core classes for the upcoming semester. Evidently no one checked my picks or my prerequisites.

I always added extra electives and never wrote down the "core classes” that I had to have to get a diploma. Some how I skid by and never took senior English class, biology, physical sciences or algebra.

Instead I opted for agriculture, drama, wood shop, study hall, home economics, journalism, metal shop, library sciences, and oceanography. I hated high school.

I just wanted to get out of class and go work at the local TV station and make money. I was unmotivated student with poor grades. I wanted hands-on experience instead of a set curriculum.

My philosophy somehow paid off. Three days after graduating from high school, I found myself heading to Wyoming to shoot a documentary of paleontologist for the Smithsonian.

And so began my career.

After working full time at the TV station for a while, I felt the pressure from my mom to go to college. After being rejected from a few schools, I decided to take night classes at the community college for a year. Nothing new there.

I always refereed to my community college as high school with ashtrays. Mom was happy, but she wanted me to get a 4-year degree. I would be the first in my family to do so.

She was elated when I got into the media studies program at Radford University, which had the best in our state. The class work was a breeze since I already had on-the-job experience.

Within a few months, I was offered a work scholarship producing marketing and promotional videos for the university. My boss was a full-time video guru, not a professor. I learned more from him than I learned in my classes.

On the day before my 21st birthday, my parents watched me graduate Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. Somehow the Special Ed student who should have not graduated high school finished a 4-year degree in 3 years with a 4.0.

So the moral of the story?

Find someone with a heart of a teacher who is wining at what they do. Do everything in your power to learn as much as you can from that person. Maybe one day you can return the favor.

BD: What have been some of the best gigs?

BARKER: So far my favorite gig was my hardest so far.

Following a few mushers on the 2009 Iditarod. I camped out for about a month as I followed mushers on an 1100 mile journey over some of the toughest terrain in one of the coldest places.

I pushed my body and my gear to limits it has never been before. I experienced temps around -50 F with wind chills approaching 100 F. My equipment froze and failed repeatedly.

I slept in snow caves and tents on frozen lakes. We got around by snowmobile and helicopter. I crossed part of the frozen Bering sea by snowmobile. My still photog I was teamed-up with had hard a hard time in the extreme conditions as well. His snowmobile blew-up on a 200 mile trip in the mountains. We submerged a snowmobile in a river. I crashed my snow mobile.

We all suffered from chilblain and early stages of frostbite. I got 2 ear infections and pink eye in both eyes for the last week. We broke alot of gear. We often worked 20+ hour days and lived off of MRE's and what ever we could buy from the local villages.

It was an epic adventure. I got see places most will never see. It was the most beautiful places had ever seen and one of the most dangerous. It was the suckiest most awesome adventure I have ever had.

I also really enjoy any gigs with Special forces.

I had the opportunity to shoot for Army SF a few times. Its a real blast working with these guys.

Here are a few shots I threw together from the shoots. Please watch them in HD.

BD: They are amazing work. Where to from here? Plans for the future? Professional Goals?

BARKER: I hope to get better and better @ all things video. Right now I want to improve my shooting and lighting skills. I consider them my strongest areas, but also the area where I could use improvement.

What developments (sic) do you see in the medium?

Change. The internet is changing the the business side of things. Tech is changing how it is made. On the professional side of film and video, technology is just growing in capabilities not necessarily smaller or cheaper.

I see "Super Hi-def", "4K" and other super resolutions taking over video and film production. Its basically a high-res still camera than can shoot 24+ fps. Its is already starting with the RED camera and the DSLRs.

I have been working in Video/TV/Film for quite some time. I have been abel to work with alot of talented folks on alot of different projects.

Some of my clients:

E! True Hollywood Stories
Jeremy Camp
Michael W. Smith
Gospel Music Channel
Indy Racing League
Third Day
3 Doors Down
Kid Rock
U.S. Army
Army National Guard
The Smithsonian
Michael Jordan Motorsports
Jones Film Group
Ripe TV
Orange County Choppers

And a few others I am forgetting.

BD: That is a very impressive list and accomplishments to be proud of.
Tell us about some of your bikes?

BARKER: I currently own 3 rides. Between them I ride about 12k miles a year.

2003 Buell XB9R Firebolt:

This was the first XB in my state. A real sweet ride. She might not be the fastest or prettiest but she is the kinkiest bike I have owned. Every time I turn her on, she returns the favor. With currently 30k miles, me and "Scarlet" have many memories together including multiple get-off-and-walk maneuvers. From long 600 mile runs to short wheelie bombing sorties, her soul always shines. I honestly cant see myself ever selling my little red tractor.

2006 Buell XB12X Ulysses:

Ah, my "Oranjello". The ugliest bike I have ever owned. A real sleeper. A hidden jewel of the motorcycle world. Jack of all trades. A mean sport bike hidden under the guise of a dirt road bagger. It's a odd site to see a Ulysses with full hard bags out corner a group of 1000cc squids like they are backing up. A comfy horse of a motorbike that can haul the mail @ a good clip, and tackle most un-paved roads. This bike has be repeatedly be baptized in many creeks and seen time on the track.

2007 Genuine Buddy 125

My Buddy. Tons of fun. 200lbs and a whopping 9hp. I ride this hog all over my urban jungle. 100mpg of twist-n-go fun. It has also seen its share or dirt roads and off road adventures.

I am currently shopping for another ride to add to the stable. Right now the Ducati 1198 is on the top of my list, but there is a lot of competition out there. It’s an exciting time to be into motorbikes.

Here’s some more pics to from behind the scenes to finish up on.

BD: Mr Barker, thank you so much. This has been an education and a pleasure. We’ll be looking out for more adventures.

Check out more of this incredible work here: