Seven months later and they have done just that, having captured a rare candid and in depth conversation with the last surviving member of pigeon racing’s most famous family, the 98 year-old legend Louis Janssen.
Add to that interviews and loft tours with four-time world champion Jos Thoné, as well as Carlo Napolitano, manager of Her Majesty’s the Queen of England loft, UK national winner Mark Gilbert and Belgian champion racer Marc de Cock, and the project looks to be tracking very nicely indeed.
Speaking from his editing studio, Director Craig Boord says that quality has been his number one priority while making the full length feature documentary Little Ripper - Fast, Feathered and Fearless, which is being shot across four continents.
“The film’s backers are all passionate and very successful pigeon flyers, who are all very concerned about protecting the future of the sport by spreading the word and getting more youngsters involved,” explains Craig.
“To get the interest of young people we needed to ensure that everything was spot on, with the highest quality production values and editing, and that we got access to the superstar racers.”
To give passionate pigeon fanciers an insight into the methods and lofts of the sport’s elite flyers, Craig and his brother Jarrod decided to expand the original scope of the project, producing a series of Racing Champion DVD releases.
“The interviews we got with Louis, Carlo and Mark– as well as the great footage we got of their lofts and on race days – were just fantastic, but there was a limit to how much we could include in the movie” Craig says.
“We couldn’t stand the idea of just losing all this amazing stuff on the cutting room floor, so we decided to bite the bullet and put together these DVDs that are squarely aimed at the passionate racer who wants to learn about how these guys have become so successful.”
The resulting four Racing Champion DVDs each contain extensive interviews, as well as loft tours, with Louis Janssen, Carlo Napolitano, Mark Gilbert and Marc de Cock.
In the Janssen DVD, Louis has clearly lost none of his enthusiasm for, or knowledge of, every aspect of what makes a champion bird.
He talks at length about the pigeons that helped to make Janssen the most famous name in pigeon racing, from the “blue female with the dark red eyes” which was paired with a “blue shelled one from Schoeters”, producing the “young white-eyed one”, to his all time favourite “De Rappe, the quick one”.
Those looking to discover the magic secret of success won’t be disappointed, because Janssen does give some clues: “Three or four flights per year and they are good pigeons … The pigeon fancier needs to talk about what the pigeon needs. If they don’t talk then it doesn’t work. If he needs to rest them or if they are bad ones he needs to get rid of them and keep the others.
And letting them fly as much as possible, as long as the weather is good. “Let them loose a lot.”
Perhaps the most telling part of the Janssen DVD is the tour of his legendary Arendonk loft.
As long-time Janssen family friend and accomplished flyer Andre Roodhoof puts it: “Normally nobody can come in the lofts, he gives permission to nobody except for his very best friends.”
The Boord brothers knew they were incredibly privileged to film in such a sanctified space, a loft that is exactly the same as it was almost 100 years ago.
It is here where the viewer instantly realises Janssen is telling the absolute truth when he says, “(the birds) were looked after, you know …winter and summer, you know, the pigeons always came first. That’s how it was.”
And it was here where the Janssen system evolved. “When young hens had chicks for the second time, after two weeks we would take her off them, so that she could have a rest. We would also take the male off the nest too, so he would not chase her. With the male off the nest the female now could race.”
But it might never have led to the great success that has influenced pigeon racing in every country where the sport is practised, if the Janssens had not had some luck with birds that had: “A good shape. Soft, good feathers and clever.” But you can’t see that!
Racing Champion Series Collector’s Edition box set is available from WWW.PIGEONDVDS.COM includes the rare Janssen interview and loft tour, also included is a free Louis Janssen poster for your loft!