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Sachtler Helps Tell Story Of Skid Row Marathon

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Every Monday at 6am, criminal court judge Craig Mitchell takes a running group on a six-mile run through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, from Skid Row to Chinatown, and back. Together, he and the residents of Skid Row's Midnight Mission Shelter make up an unorthodox running club. But they are not only training for the LA marathon, but to also rebuild lives.

Speaking in the documentary trailer, Judge Mitchell said: "Any perception that people who suffer from addiction or end up on Skid Row do not possess character traits to achieve great things in their lives is an absolute misperception. [The runners have] sustained way too much disappointment, too many dreams that have not come to fruition, and I'm not going to let this experience [of the running club] fall into that category."

This is the focus of the upcoming documentary Skid Row Marathon, directed by Mark Hayes and produced by his wife Gabi. Both Mark and Gabi were fascinated by the judge and his running club, and their story.

"It intrigued me because here's this guy that, as part of his day job and daily responsibilities, is sentencing people to long sentences and life in prison," explained Mark, who has been documenting the runners in this project for three years. "Yet, on the other hand, he's reaching out to those same individuals to help them get back into society and be a part of the greater community. He believes in their potential."

The film follows the runners over the course of three years as they battle with the ups and downs of addiction, and how the retreat of the club offered them a second chance.

"We're trying to tell the story of these people as they reconnect with life, society, and their own dignity," Mark added. "The running club has given them this second chance at life and we're following these characters as they either succeed or fail when given this second chance."

Mark and Gabi faced a few challenges while filming the documentary. As it is based on a running club, the subjects would move quickly from place to place, giving the couple just one opportunity to get the show. The Hayes solution to capture the necessary shots was to use Sachtler's FSB 8 fluid head paired with the Speedlock tripod. Built for camera operators on the go, Sachtler's tripods are lightweight and their Speedlock technology helps users set up quickly by having a single release per leg. Additionally, the FSB 8 fluid head has a versatile payload range that supports the range of cameras Gabi and Mark use, including the Canon C300, the Sony FS700, and the Sony a7S.

"Once the runners started their run, we can't tell them to wait while we jump in the car to follow them, so we'd use Sachtler's Speedlock legs every day," Mark continued. "We'd collapse the legs, pop it in the car, put the quick release plate on, level the tripod while we were moving, and then 10 seconds later you're shooting. The ability to move that around quickly and to drastically change your setups was really made possible by the ease with which we could raise and lower the tripod, balance the head, and then quickly start tilting and panning to follow these runners. Its carbon fiber legs make it light and manoeuvrable, but strong and stable at the same time."

To follow Skid Row Marathon visit

A behind-the-scenes video with Sachtler and the Skid Row Marathon can be viewed below.

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