Connect with us

Features

10 Things You Missed When Watching ‘How To Break A World Record’

We’ve got ten things you might have missed when watching the new documentary ‘How to Break a World Record.’

Published

on

How to Break a World Record (2024)

How to Break a World Record is one of the more intriguing documentaries to be released in 2024 and has the feel of a cult classic in the making. The film follows the band Brother Oliver as they attempt to break a mandolin Guinness World Record—and battle their way through an unexpected rival in India to accomplish their goal.

The story told in the film took nearly 12 months to unfold. A journey of that length creates more storylines and details than could ever fit into a sub-90-minute film or even be mentally processed in one watch. On top of that, this movie was a passion project made front to back by the same crew starring in it—so it’s full of little moments that you, the viewer, may have never noticed or know the story behind.

We spoke with the movie’s editor, Dan Johnson, who shared ten things below that someone may have missed in How to Break a World Record. If you’ve seen the movie (out now on Apple TV), check this list out and see how many you may have missed. If you haven’t watched, here are ten or more things to look out for when you do!

_________________

1. The Clock

The rules for the record attempt dictated a continuously running clock placed near the performer. I took it a step or seven further and used two – both enclosed in a custom wooden case. One timer counted down from the time needed to break the record, and the other showed the time starting at zero and counting up to the new record time.

Side note: the clock nearly met an early demise by its maker (me), when it was dropped on the asphalt during load-in. It did take some damage, but only to its character.

It did take some damage but only to its character.

During the interviews in the movie, the clock sits in the back and is set statically to the old record and Stephen Oliver’s new record. If you watch closely, about an hour into the film, as he breaks the record, we photoshopped the clock to show what it looked like on stage at the moment of the break.

This easter egg is so deep that I had to be reminded of it after the fact, in detail, and I am the one who put it in there.

2. Do it for Dale

Forthright Records and Brother Oliver have called South Carolina home for a decade now. After settling into the bible belt, we all became full-fledged late-in-life converts to the local church—NASCAR.

While the new faith began through a friendship with local NASCAR driver Colby Howard and the faithful witness of local comedian Barry McGunthrie Jr., the conversion came full circle with the serendipitous discovery of a relatively common Dale Earnhardt trading card. That card became a talisman for us. We were drawn to the confident smile and crossing of arms, the mustache standards unachievable by normal men, and the classic style of the Intimidator’s hat and racing suit.

That card sat with us at a Waffle House table the day we decided to break this record, on each of our desks for various stretches, next to Stephen for his entire record attempt, and is even visible on the cover artwork for the movie itself.

As a surprise, I had the card slabbed by SGC and gifted it back to Stephen to be the permanent holder of the original. Since then, other copies of the same card have been obtained and used as keepsakes for us and for many other people who have partnered with Forthright over the last couple of years.

3. The Air Horn

There’s a scene in the movie, somewhere in the dead of night, where Stephen blows an air horn. Andrew P. Oliver and Dakota Parler respond by barreling down the stairs in a panic, only to find everyone laughing at them.

We weren’t able to do the clearest job explaining this in the movie, but the air horn was a tool for any emergencies Stephen ran into, if Andrew or I were not in earshot. We worried about his backing track going down, power going out, clocks stopping, mandolin strings breaking, etc., and needed a universal distress signal.

The one time Stephen does use it in the film was a false alarm to prank Andrew (which was effective)—and that was the only time the horn was ever heard, thankfully.

4. The Man with Two First Names

The film goes into detail about how “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus accidentally became a signpost for us throughout the night, potentially providing just enough of an energy boost to avoid an early exit by Stephen.

What the movie doesn’t get the chance to address is the fact that Jimmy Matthews, one of the main characters that night, somehow managed to miss every single Billy Ray line-dance moment, of which there were somewhere around 5. If you haven’t seen the movie, this involves 5-15 people performing a tragically under-talented line dance to “Achy Breaky Heart” right in front of Stephen as he plays along on his mandolin. Inexplicably, Jimmy was either out of the room, distracted, or with his back turned for every one.

Weeks after the record attempt, while looking at clips of that hilarious goof-about, Jimmy couldn’t believe it ever happened. Upon review, no evidence was found in any footage that Jimmy was ever involved or even looked in the general direction of the dance floor. The closest he got was sitting at a booth with his back turned to the crowd, potentially fighting sleep—or his demons.

5. Brisket Power Failure

Perhaps one reason that Jimmy missed his chance to dance was his focus on smoking his first brisket concurrently with the record attempt. The plan was to start at the beginning and slow-cook it through to the end so that it could be enjoyed after Stephen succeeded.

Somewhere around 2am, someone discovered that the smoker had shut off and gone cold. The building owner was called and rushed over, only to discover that a switch for the outdoor power had been flipped.
The smoke resumed, but the brisket was deemed a failure. In the end, it didn’t matter because between a lack of sleep and surviving on fruit and nuts through the night, it hit as hard as any good brisket would on a normal day.

6. The Ice Boys

The team was visited late Saturday night by internet comedy legends Joey Thompson and Joe Hamric, who provided a big energy boost headed into the dead of the night. Much of their contributions never made it to the final product, but you will see Joe drinking a fine beer and then obliterating Joey with a folding chair while pretending to be a trailer park wrestler.

7. Headphone Thief

One small strategy we tried to increase Stephen’s chances of success was using bone-conductor earbuds for his backing tracks. The idea was that this would decrease fatigue and let him stay tuned in to everything going on around him to alleviate boredom or avoid feeling secluded.

The headphones worked great for hours but still caused some fatigue, so they were temporarily abandoned for a regular speaker. Later, they disappeared. Someone out there, somewhere, owns a piece of history and our hope is that the thief at least appreciates what they have.

Another point—as the movie How To Break A World Record goes on, you may notice you hear less of Stephen’s mandolin playing. Once he switched to the speaker and couldn’t switch back to headphones, any footage of that area while he played couldn’t be used due to copyright on a host of major songs. As a result, there were a lot of great moments that simply couldn’t be used in the film.

8. Dr. Shawn’s Table

Dr. Shawn Currie was a huge help in this project and showed up multiple times to help Stephen stay comfortable throughout the night. Two of the most inconsequential small details from his visit have somehow been canonized among the team and now perhaps the world.

First, as the mobile chiropractic table was set up, the headrest support hit the ground before the table legs and had to be fixed. For some unfathomable reason, Andrew and Stephen find this absolutely hilarious, still to this day. Perhaps it can be explained by a lack of lucidity during a crazy night.

Perhaps it can be explained by a lack of lucidity during a crazy night.

Second, as Stephen stood up from his first session, guilt overcame him when he looked down to see his own sweat on the table and made a feeble attempt at discreetly wiping it away with his hand. It’s one of those moments you probably wouldn’t have noticed and now will be unable to miss.

9. Deleted Prank Scene

There were multiple pranks pulled in How To Break A World Record. One of them was so over the top that it was not included in the finished product. The victim of that prank was me.

We worked really hard to chase Stephen’s rival in India down for a video call interview. During that time, we were connected with him on social media and communicated occasionally. After weeks of trying, Andrew was finally able to nail him down for an interview.

When we got on the call, it was a friend helping translate, but they wouldn’t turn the video on: just a mysterious name in white text with a very unique voice.

When we got on the call, it was a friend helping translate, but they wouldn’t turn the video on: just a mysterious name in white text with a very unique voice. The conversation got extremely weird, and Andrew was absolutely botching the interview—laughing with the camera on, asking the weirdest shallow questions, and making an uncharacteristic fool of himself. The translator started saying they didn’t want to be in the film because of me specifically. It went on for what seemed like weeks. I was trying to keep my cool but it was one of the most awkward things I have ever experienced.

Andrew finally asked this translator to turn on the camera and it reveals Stephen in his office as they exploded into laughter. They had practiced the voice together and evil-masterminded the entire thing. It was a wild, psychologically torturous trip for me. For months I kept remembering the voice and the name, unable to believe he didn’t actually exist.

10. Delivery Service

One of my favorite parts when watching this movie with friends and family has been the laughter at Andrew’s Land Rover poorly cosplaying as a delivery truck. Using markers and scrap cardboard to make a terrible recreation of the FedEx logo and intentionally providing no explanation was a truly unhinged move.

On top of that, the actual delivery was extremely delayed getting to Stephen, so we made him sit in his house with what he hoped was a world record certificate for two days. I guess that might have added to the huge smile on his face when he finally unboxed it on camera.

The cardboard FedEx sign still exists, if anyone wants to buy it for the price of my next camera rig, hit me up.

11 (Bonus): Stephen’s Hospital Trip

I debated including this one—but in the spirit of pulling back the veil…

During the all night marathon, there is a discussion about how this painful endeavor fell on Stephen, and how that seems to be a pattern. There’s then a reference to him being set on fire in the past, followed by what appears to be a mind-blowing video clip of it actually happening. That clip featured in How To Break A World Record comes from an old music video we shot back in our early days of working together. It involved fire, as the title “Altars” might suggest.

As a stunt to try to get eyes on the video, we also created a fake cell-phone style BTS film of Stephen being badly burned and rushed to the hospital. We did it so believably, and people thought so lowly of us that we would actually post this video, that Stephen had many people reaching out to him personally to see how bad off he was. We felt really bad, but the video still exists. If you can find it, go look at his “medical” bandages and tell us if you would have been fooled.

_________________

Dan Johnson is a filmmaker in Greenville, SC—and was the editor and co-director of the new feature film How To Break A World Record and the visual arts director at Forthright Records

Watch How To Break A World Record—out now on Apple TV.

Trending