CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 21: A chat with filmmaker Nigel Dick

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It was July 1998 — an unseasonably cold and wet day in New York City. British filmmaker Nigel Dick was in town to meet a 16-year-old singer from Louisiana who was to become the next big thing. He turned on the hotel TV and saw another cold and wet day, with cyclists suffering in extreme weather. It was Stage 15 of the Tour de France, from Grenoble to Les Deux Alpes — the day Jan Ullrich cracked in the cold on the Col du Galibier and lost the maillot jaune to Marco Pantani.

Dick was captivated. Though he hadn’t woken up that day a cycling fan, he was an instant convert. Later that afternoon, he would meet with Britney Spears for the first time. Soon after, he would direct “…Baby One More Time,” the video that launched her career.

Ten years later, Dick attended the Tour de France for the first time, credential around his neck, embedded with the Garmin-Chipotle team, providing daily web content as well as footage that would be used for promotional purposes. He would return with the team the following year.

In this hourlong conversation with CyclingTips Editor Neal Rogers and host Elden “Fat Cyclist” Nelson, Dick shares his story, from working as a messenger for a record label to traveling with a pro team at the Tour.

Nigel Dick, speaking with former Garmin-Slipstream director Matt White, Stage 12, 2009 Tour de France, from Tonnerre to Vittel. Photo: Casey B. Gibson.

It all started with Dick’s entry-level position at Stiff Records in London. By chance, he ended up producing the video for one of the label’s budding bands, Madness. The song? “Our House,” one of the band’s biggest hits.

Within two years, Dick had directed some of the most popular videos on MTV, including “Shout,” by Tears to Fears, “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones, and “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” performed by Band Aid, a charity supergroup that included Bono, George Michael, Phil Collins, and Sting, among others.

Nigel Dick with Britney Spears, 1998, on set for the “…Baby One More Time” video.

A move to Los Angeles put Dick in contact with Guns N’ Roses; he would direct the videos for “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and “Paradise City,” which would launch the band into superstardom.

Collaborations with Def Leppard, Oasis, and R.E.M. would follow before that pivotal day in New York City in August 1998. Fifteen years later, The Daily Beast would write that the video for …Baby One More Time” was a “major pop-culture moment.”

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In November 2007, Dick traveled to Boulder, Colorado, where the Slipstream Sports team was hosting its first camp. He directed “Millar’s Tale,” which focused on David Millar’s return to pro cycling after a two-year doping suspension. The film was shown at the team’s launch event at the Boulder Theatre.

The following year, Dick joined the team at the Tour de France, his first major cycling event, quickly learning how to navigate one of the biggest sporting events in the world while spending his evenings editing and uploading over a dodgy French wifi connection.

Asked which clip he was proudest of during his time working with the team, Dick pointed to a day spent with Millar at the 2009 Tour as he prepared for the Stage 18 time trial in Annecy, won by Alberto Contador ahead of Fabian Cancellara.

Video: A day in the life: David Millar prepares for the Stage 18 Time Trial at the 2009 Tour de France.

 

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