Filmmaker: Brian Darwas

Film: White Knuckle: The Motorcycle Cannonball

1st Annual MFF 2013 Winner: People’s Choice 

Q: What’s the name of your film in the MFF?

A: This year The MFF screened my film “White Knuckle: The Story of The Motorcycle Cannonball”.

Q: What’s it about?

A: “White Knuckle” follows a few of the riders on the first ever Motorcycle Cannonball, a cross country endurance run on antique bikes (pre-1916) that pitts the man against his machine, and his machine against the unforgiving back roads of The United States.

Q: What inspired you to make this movie?

A: I spoke to a friend who was building a bike for the run. Before he could get finished telling me about the trip I interrupted and said “that’s sounds crazy, I need to come along”. I hung up the phone and drove straight up to his place to film him finish assembling his bike. . . and a week later we were on the road to the starting line. I figured this would be the perfect chance to show the world why people get out on their bikes and do crazy shit like this. You get to learn about the people, see their struggles, and gain a whole new respect for people who ride.

Hopefully someone will see this movie and gain a better understanding of why some people are so passionate about motorcycles. . . and maybe it will inspire the younger generation to get out there and build something.

Q: How did you find the MFF?

A: It wasn’t to hard, you guys did a pretty good job promoting the festival. I know Corinna and when I heard that she was putting together a film festival I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I like to get behind any DIY effort. If people are out there making something happen I want to be a part of it anyway that I can. It’s a small world, we all need to support each other.

Q: Have you made any other films, and If so, is there a common theme throughout your films?

A: To date I’ve made five films, and I’m currently editing my sixth. All my films are documentaries that look at people who build and ride/dive anything with an engine. From period correct Hot Rods on The Bonneville Salt Flats, to the vintage bikes you see in “White Knuckle”. I like to give the world a peek into a subculture that they’d have no way of getting a look at, while preserving what’s going on today for future generations. When I build anything I’m always looking back to books and magazines from the 1940’s / ’50’s. . . I’d like to leave a record of what’s going on today for people to look back on sixty years from now. I think telling these stories is an important part our culture.

Q: Do you ride a motorcycle? If so, tell us a little about what you ride, and why?

A: I build cars, period correct hot rods. . . but I have respect for anything mechanical.  If you can build it and it runs, I can respect it.

Q: As a filmmaker, what about the MFF and motorcycle films in general speaks to you?

A: Hot rods and motorcycles got hand and hand to me.  They’re both built to go fast. . . well, fast for what you have in it, lol.  I like to see other people doing what they love, whether it’s building a bike from scratch, or making a movie. . . and with The MFF I get to see both of those things come together.   So it’s like I’m getting the best of everything.

Q: Have you had a chance to attend the MFF yet?

A: Yes. . . and it was spectacular.

Q: Possibly impossible question: Favorite bike movie?

A: That’s easy. . . “The Savage Seven“.

Q: What’s next for you as a filmmaker

A: To keep filming anyone who’s willing to get in front of my camera with a story to tell.  I like sharing people’s stories.


*Check out all of Brian Darwas’ films as well as the cars he builds on his website Atomic Hot Rods

*Read an review of the classic 1968 biker film, The Savage Seven by filmmaker Brian Darwas, on the Cine Meccanica blog.