Filmmaker: Bryan Carroll
Film: Why We Ride
Q: What’s the name of your film in the MFF, and what’s it about?
A: Why We Ride. Its an inspiring adventure into the world of motorcycling, told by famous racers, passionate riders, and everyday families who ride together on the road to life.
Q: What inspired you to make this movie?
A: We started out doing research for a feature film about class-C motorcycle racers from the 1930s, with a particular emphasis on the legendary Ed “Iron Man” Kretz, Sr. That led us to meeting his son, Ed Kretz, Jr., who was very close to his dad and was also a hall-of-fame motorcycle racer on his own. In 2012, I sat down with Jr. in his nostalgia-filled garage up in Denver, and had a four-hour conversation with him about the life and times of his father’s racing career and what it was like for him growing up around it.
What bubbled to the surface was unexpected.
He shared all the great stories and memories with me as expected, but it kept coming back to the same common denominator – motorcycling is shared. Not only shared amongst friends and fellow riders, but also among family. And with the Kretz family, motorcycles were at the heart and the union of everything they did. That observation immediately got me thinking about my own life. I also grew up on motorcycles, but here I was, now a father of two, and I wasn’t riding any longer. When did I stop and why? More importantly, why wasn’t I sharing it with my kids like my dad shared it with me? I mean the very first piece of film that exists of me on this planet is a 9 second piece of 8mm film that showed me riding on the front of my fathers 1968 Yamaha Enduro, while I gripped onto the handle bars. I was about 3, and we would jump on that bike after dinner and ride up into the hills of Bountiful Utah to pick wild flowers for my mom. I left Jr’s garage and that was the moment when I looked to James and said, “This is what we are doing next. It’s going to be called Why We Ride.” The title, “Why We Ride,” was more than a name; it was essentially a mission statement. Everything I do in my life starts with “Why”. Not “how” or “what,” but “Why”. I wanted to make a film that showed my children what my values and principals were. I knew at that moment we needed to start making this film now. I also new in order to be true to this story and not show any favoritism to any one product or rider we had to have investors outside of the community. We could not have any sponsorship money from motorcycle companies, parts companies, or even energy drinks. We had to be completely unbiased. I did not want my hands tied.
Q: How did you find the MFF?
A: Through The Vintagent. Paul approached me and told me about The MFF and I was so glad that someone had finally started a film festival for motorcycles. I have been trying to get something on the west coast going for all moto. We had a call with you, entered our film and were honored to be considered.
Q: Have you made any other films, and If so, is there a common theme throughout your films?
A: I was a Co-Producer and second unit director for Michael Mann on many of his features: Collateral, Miami Vice, and Public Enemies. If it had an engine in it I wanted to film it and Michael would let me. I started in this business as a film editor, so those were such valuable tools for directing “Why We Ride”. Documentaries must be personal and this movie was about an internal story, and as a director you are all in, 100%. I knew that if my life had not changed by the end of this movie, then I did not do my life or this movie justice. And certainly, my life has changed after directing this movie.
Q: Do you ride a motorcycle, If so, tell us a little about what you ride, and why?
A: Yes, I only live a couple miles from my office, so whenever it is possible I ride to and from the office each day. I try to get out on the weekends but, I mean, living in Southern California we have little to no bad weather days so we are really spoiled, you gotta take advantage of everyday.
I loved thumpers when I was younger. My last bike before I stopped was a KLR650. Last year I was riding a Husky 650 terra, it reminded me of the old thumpers’ and a lot of fun. Lately I have been riding a Triumph Scrambler and a Victory Highball. On Sundays I occasionally jump on my sons PW80 and go up and down the street a few times just to remember what the old, little 2-strokes were like. I do wish I would have ridden more as a kid and never stopped. I feel like I am playing catch up now but the great thing about riding is it is accessible to almost any age and price. You can start riding at any time in your life. Nothing else stimulates all your senses like riding a motorcycle does.
Q: As a filmmaker, what about the MFF and motorcycle films in general speaks to you?
A: I love films. I love watching them. I love learning how they were made and all the little tools for telling these stories. I love the machinery and technology, old and new, that is used and has been used to make movies. I have never wanted to be in front of the camera but I want to know about every skill, job, and person who is behind the camera. Anyone who celebrates that is someone I want to know. The only thing that I am as passionate about as movies is anything with a motor in it. You combine those two things into one event and you have me hooked.
Q: Have you had a chance to attend the MFF yet?
A: No, Unfortunately last year we were rushing to our release and I had to cancel. I am gonna try for this year.
Q: Possibly impossible question: Favorite bike movie?
A: Impossible! Next Question.
No, I think it has changed a few times throughout my life but like motorcycles, films are milestones in our lives and bring back memories of those times. When I was little I loved movie sound tracks. I used to go to the music store and just look at the album covers and buy them based on that. I remember when I bought “Electra glide and Blue” It had a foldout in it that was a blueprint of an Electra glide. I put it on my wall. I did not see the movie until years later and got a kick out of it. One that really stands out is “Take it to the Limit”. The POV scene racing through the Isle of Man. Geez. They had a Camera attached to Hailwoods bike at full speed.. Film camera, no gopro back then. The one film that really made me want to ride was “Quadrophenia”. Even though it was not a motorcycle film per say. I wanted to go back in time and be a rocker. I still love that movie. I could go on but this would become a book.
Q: What’s next for you as a filmmaker?
A: We are in the middle of writing a movie about minimoto. Its kinda like The Mighty Ducks with motorcycles. I really want to see more kids get into this sport and this would be a fun family film. We are also still developing our original script on Ed “Iron Man” Kretz and that one is gonna be fun. You know, everyday counts and you have to live life to its fullest. As long as I am telling stories and surrounded by moto and film then I am living my passion.