Behind-the-scenes of CarTrek and the story of Side B Productions

CarTrek as a series has changed the YouTube automotive space for the better. It made us feel like the classic Top Gear we all grew up with never went away but instead evolved into a format made for the modern digital age. The best part is that it doesn’t even require a cable subscription which, if you’re like most of us in 2023, you cut long before there was a streaming platform for every channel under the sun.

If you’ve clicked on at least one of my CarTrek articles over the years, you know the way they go. What you might not know about though, are the masterminds behind the camera. Who are the people that make sure every crazy shot, stunt, and “Tyler weeeeeeeeens” moment is perfectly captured and flawlessly edited in post-production?

Why that would be the guys at Side B Productions, of course.

I had the awesome privilege of meeting the team at Concours D’Lemons in Monterey last year and watching them film Tyler’s monologue and eventual temporary destruction of the show’s PA system (sorry Alan). It was captivating watching the unsung efforts that go into capturing a scene that, in the final product, lasts around ten minutes. We had to set up a perimeter and make sure no bystanders walked into the shot. Lights had to be set up. Lav mic tests were performed and when all was ready to go, the inevitable happened: a bystander walked into the shot. I suppose the two massive cameras and boom mic were just not noticeable enough. I say we try bright, neon signs that say something to the tone of “bro we’re filming, what the hell?”

I wanted to hear their story and then I remembered that I have an outlet where I rather than just hear it for himself, I can tell it to people from around the world! You’re on it right now, if you were wondering. I reached out to Brent Baxter, one of the creative minds behind Side B Productions, for comment and boy was I ever glad I did so. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

Q1: So Brent, tell us a bit about how Side B Productions got started.

A: Side B Productions was created in 2018. Prior to 2018, photography was mostly a side hustle/hobby I did for live music concerts, event coverage, etc. with primary income coming from my role as an SVP in the banking world for 16 years. For many years I considered walking away from my comfortable salary and benefits but the time never felt right. By nature I am not a big risk-taker. I lost my father in 2017 and my perspective on life was changed forever.  I came home one day and told my wife and kids I would be chasing my passion, but assured them they would still have everything they needed. My wife Lindsey fully supported the idea. Thus the wild ride began, and still continues 5 years later.

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

Q2: How did you guys start doing CarTrek?

A: This is my favorite question. Season 1 was more of a concept so crew-wise you had me, Jordan Cole, and Frazer Spowart with his camera car. Jordan and I were friends on Facebook, we had many contacts in common, and both had respect for each other’s work but had never spoken or met in person.  

I received a DM from Jordan asking if I had a moment to chat and we jumped on a call. He explained to me a very loose and confusing concept, but ultimately I said let’s do it!  So the first time Jordan and I met was at the airport when flying out for production.  

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

We arrived at Freddy’s shop and my first question was “Freddy do you have a script or shot list I can start becoming acquainted with?” Freddy quickly pointed at his head and said “no sir it’s all right up here.” Oh boy, this was going to be a journey! This was our CarTrek launch so to speak.

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

Q3: And how has that experience been so far?

A: It was an opportunity I had not expected, but I am glad I was open to it and said yes. Every day we are on the road is a challenge for various reasons. I am grateful for the men I get to make this show with as our crew runs on a lot of passion. This is not something you can accomplish without the right people and while we drive each other insane sometimes, you can always count on this crew having one another’s back no matter what. I take a lot of pride in that.

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

Q4: Do you have a favorite season that you’ve filmed?

A: Each season has some great memory or moment that I will never forget, but season 3 is really burned into my memory. We filmed at a castle in Missouri, the pandemic was at its peak and it made sense for us to be quarantined at one location to minimize any risk. Locking a dozen guys in a castle for two weeks with basically no cell service or Wi-Fi was an interesting experiment! You actually start to lose your mind a little or maybe a lot. You can see proof of this throughout the season.

Another fun memory was when Tyler jumped off the boat into the freezing cold water in the dark. None of us knew he was going to do this and although now it’s one of my favorite scenes, there was a legit moment where we could not see Tyler out there. Sketchy!

Ed, as we saw, sent it a little too hard on the rally course and ended up in a tree. Again, this was a real unplanned moment. If you look closely in the scene you will see me running in the background as I was actually standing behind the tree he hit.

Image courtesy of Brent Baxter/Side B Productions

Q5: What was the most difficult thing you’ve had to film during a season of CarTrek?

A: There are truly no easy setups to film when it comes to Cartrek, mostly because we are running such a small crew. Days are packed solid and you must be ready for anything and everything to change at any moment. That might mean a location fell through, a vehicle has decided to fail or an entire episode structure was rewritten at dinner the night before. This is an unscripted show with a general concept outlining each episode with an overall season goal. The motto is “Subject to Change” lol.  

Q6: Do you have other films in the works besides upcoming seasons of CT?

A: Aside from CarTrek and the Car Issues series on Motortrend, our work mostly lives in the commercial advertising space. However, we are always keeping our eyes out for additional show opportunities.  

You can find samples of our work here!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWk2YhqL2j-WGkj3qiWKv7Q

Q7: Is there anything you want people to know that I haven’t asked you about?

A: With the recent passing of Ken Block I think it is just important to remember your goals are right around the corner, although at times it may feel like they are a million miles away. It takes hard work and surrounding yourself with the right people to accomplish them. I hear people say all the time “wow you have such a cool job” and I would fully agree! It is not glamorous, but it is honest hard work that we are extremely passionate about. If you want something, go get it! 

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