When you talk about stellar motorcycle movies, several pop into gear, notably Brando’s The Wild One (1953), Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday (1971) and The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) about Burt Munro. A fourth bike film, Why We Ride, may be added to that A-List. It’s already won Best Feature Documentary at the First Annual Motorcycle Film Festival held September 26-28, 2013, in Brooklyn. Then on the following Thursday night, October 3, a couple thousand movers and shakers from the motorcycle industry as well as many of those who appeared in the full-feature film filled the theater at the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California.
During the onstage introduction of the independently financed film under the aegis of Walking West Entertainment and Gnarlynow Entertainment, its Director/Producer Bryan H. Carroll commented that as the project developed, the “we” part became the major factor, that being the people involved in the sport, from the Daytona 200 winners to the solo globe trotters to motocross competitors to Bonneville record setters (male and female) to the families that ride together to the vintage bike fans…each with a unique story but all with a common connection the intense passion for riding and the physical, mental and yes, spiritual, elements that come with the territory. Carrol thanked the some 70 people interviewed for the film, the hundreds that participated in its production and the technical expertize provided by Ed Kretz, Jr. as well as the thousands that appeared in the footage photographed in HD by Andrew Waruszewski and Douglas Cheney. Lending a dramatic element, especially in the opening montage, was the original music created by Steven Gutheinz that sometimes had the impact of the soundtracks from Lord of the Rings or Chariots of Fire. The audience gave the film’s opening a huge round of applause.
The scope of the film was both large in canvas and tightly focused, from covering panoramic events like Sturgis to close-ups on the individuals who made motorcycling history, past, present and future, as well. The audience was transported to a wide spectrum of locales from the Bonneville Salt Flats to urban environments to serene country lanes to the knee-dragging hyper-action of Moto GP to families bonding in the sand dunes. The film’s narrative moved with a similar pace, well-composed by writer Chris Hampel with input from Director/Producer Carroll and Producer James Walker.
A list of those who assisted and supported the production included many iconic companies, organizations and shops including the AMA, Triumph, BMW, the ISC, Arlen Ness, Klockwerks, the Daytona International Speedway, the WMDRA, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the Trailblazers and many others.
Some of the truly inspirational highlights for me were the up close and personals focusing on Ted Simon and Dave Barr. In the 1970s, Ted Simon spent four years riding a 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 solo around the planet and penned the classic Jupiter’s Travels. Then, in 2001 at age 70, he did it again on a BMW R 80 GS. Dave Barr, a military veteran of many wars who lost both legs in Angola went on to ride 83,000 miles becoming the first double amputee to circumnavigate the globe. Both men epitomized the “true grit” of motorcycling but moreover both men both learned about themselves and the world at large and their efforts to carry positive messages to all the planet’s cultures. Again, it was a matter of “we” and the concept of global human connectivity.
Other highlights included seeing and hearing from the Klock family of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles—Brian, wife Laura, and daughters Erika and Karlee—mother and daughters having earned the accolade as the fastest mother-daughter-daughter trio in history via Bonneville, all three recording speeds near 200 mph. While many in the audience knew of the exploits of the larger-than-life Ed “Iron Man” Kretz, Sr. and his many “firsts,” we got to see and hear from his family which added to our appreciation of the man and his accomplishments.
I enjoyed the post-film hobnobbing that included cheeseburger sliders and beverages and listened in on comments about the film, which had elicited a very positive audience response as evidenced by several waves of applause, whistling and hurrah’s during the end credits. For me, and something heard from others in the audience, it could shed a few minutes of screen time and tighten up a bit in a couple of the segments, but overall it was a “hit” and certainly a film that goes far to further the image of motorcycling and hopefully the undertaking of the motorcycle experience by new riders.
Distribution news looks good for both U.S. and overseas audiences, so watch for it soon wherever you are.