Easier Said Than Done Rally Documentary Review

Film: Easier Said Than Done, Created by: Matt Johnston, Run Time: 75 minutes, Released: 28th September 2013

A few months ago I was reading posts on Face book and was drawn to a trailer for a new film coming out

called Easier Said Than Done Rally documentary. With rallying almost being a religion in my life and the same with many of my friends and family, anything remotely rally orientated is like a bright shiny penny so I clicked on the video link to watch the trailer.

Wow was all I could think. Spectacular shots of rally cars in the forests and snow, Group B rally cars, Ken Block and Petter Solberg, this had to be a winner and the trailer left me wanting more!

I, like many other rally nuts anxiously awaited the release date when I could buy my own copy of  Easier Said Than Done.

Now for anyone who has competed in a rally anywhere in the world and done it all themselves, they understand the title. Rallying can be a brutal mistress and like most forms of Motorsport, it largely comes down to the finances as to how far you can go. No doubt the title struck a chord with many, me included.

When the release date came around, I immediately ordered my copy of the DVD at $16.99US. I could have paid and downloaded then and there to save the wait, however the DVD seemed like a better option and packages from the US usually don’t take more than a week or so to arrive in Western Australia.

Fast forward more than 4 weeks after purchasing and a plain cardboard envelope arrived in the mail, harbouring the much anticipated DVD.  So much for the week or two, this had better be worth the wait.

Before talking about the documentary, a little background on the film’s creation. Matt Johnston is a small US film maker that has spent a lot of time around rallying, covering US and international events. His vision to create Easier Said Than Done utilised the approach of crowd sourcing, an innovative way of using the internet to allow anyone and everyone to provide funds for a project. Using crowd sourcing website Kick Starter, Matt generated over $67,000USD and brought his dream to reality.

Easier said than doneOpening the package, the first thing that I noticed was the cardboard DVD jacket. Whilst the jacket is printed in screen shots from the film I found it a departure from the normal plastic hard cases that hold and protect most DVD’s. Cracking the thin plastic DVD holder inside the jacket was not a good start, the disc itself was stuck tight and wouldn’t come out. In the end, the option was to break the holder to safely remove the disc.

The first few minutes of the movie is a static display tease of exotic Group B and 90’s WRC cars, featuring a Ford RS200, a Peugeot 205 T16 an Audi Quattro and a Corolla WRC. This is the first and last glimpse of these fabulous cars and really has nothing to do with the documentary.

The documentary rolls out a list of rally people, most familiar to the US rally circuit and follows the trials and tribulations of several competitors. Both Ken Block and Petter Solberg feature in the film and provide some insight into their rallying careers. Not totally based in North America, the location shifts to Mexico, Jamaica and Finland among others and there is some spectacular footage during the film.

Not far into the documentary, it becomes clear that the filmmaker is trying to convey the difficulty to go rallying, particularly in the US and the epic financial struggles of those with aspirations to go further. It was surprising to hear that much of the rallying in the US even at a national level Easier Said Than Done- Ken Blockhas no TV coverage. Whilst Australia’s coverage of the ARC is low in comparison to V8 Supercars, at least rallying does get regular national air time. Not surprising then that the US Olympus rally lost its WRC status in the 80’s which led to the birth of Rally Australia as a direct replacement.

For 75 minutes or so, Easier Said Than Done trundles along. At times the documentary is very good at conveying its message and you get a sense that the world over, rallying is a family with the same passion for the sport. At other times during the film, I was left wondering if they had cut in slow motion and aerial rally footage, just to add extra length to the film.

Perhaps one of the strangest quirks of the film is several segments of interviews with a chain smoking, red beanie wearing John Vanlandingham. It ESTD_Johnseems like Vanlandingham has literally lost touch with reality and even used to illustrate the characters in rallying, the film loses credibility. Inexplicably, a longer interview with Vanlandingham is in the special features on the DVD.

So what’s the bottom line? Is it worth buying a copy of Easier Said Than Done?

Easier Said Than Done has a crack at conveying the struggles of US rally competitors in the US rally championships and one driver wanting to break into the WRC. Something most of us who have gone rallying can relate to, regardless of where in the world we live. The trouble is the film feels a little disjointed and seems to lack direction (a good writer may have helped) to tie everything into a clear narrative. Those inside the rally goldfish bowl particularly in the US will probably understand, however the film may fail to connect with those outside looking in.

Hats off to Matt Johnston, creating a rally documentary almost single handedly was surely no easy feat. For me, Easier Said Than Done is a metaphor not just for going rallying, however the documentary as a whole.  One to get your mates or team together to watch after the rally car is rolled into the shed, the service truck/trailer is unpacked and you have a couple of hours free to zone out post rally. 3  Stars.3 stars