The Motorcycle Film Festival is built on one simple thing. The Motorcycle. It transports us from here to there. It gives us freedom. It pushes us to take chances, go farther, and test our limits. Motorcycles don’t define us, but they do become a part of us and it is this shared understanding of what they bring to our lives that brings the motorcycle community so close. For us, it’s this common bond and the relationship between Festival, Filmmakers and Audience that is the most rewarding. It’s a relationship that doesn’t end once the theatre lights go dim. It’s why we travel the world to bring the films to riders everywhere and remain in contact with all of the MFF Filmmakers. One of those filmmakers is Cam Elkins.
MFF: What new projects do you have in the works?
CE: Since I started Stories of Bike, the commercial work has really picked up. After I finished Discovery, I went on to shoot a couple of TVCs (one for a motorcycle insurance company, of course) and a stack of online content. I was also invited to help develop another Web series called The Leadership Show. I also went to the U.S. last year to shoot a new secret moto TV pilot, which I’m still editing. All of which has been keeping me pretty busy and away from doing more on Stories of Bike.
MFF: How has Stories of Bike progressed?
CE: When I first started Stories, I didn’t really have an idea of what it was going to be. All I knew was that I didn’t want to do stories about builders, but rather everyday riders. Yes, there are a couple of builder stories in there, but it’s about the reasons they ride and the particular aspect of their riding that makes their riding unique. Since then, I’ve wanted to refine this a little more and show more about who we are as people who also ride and how riding makes us see the world a little bit brighter than most.
I started shooting a little bit of Season 3 last year, but have only really been able to make some real progress in the last couple of months. So far I’ve shot 4 episodes and I’m about to head back to the U.S. in August to shoot 2 more. I’m hoping to round out Season 3 with 10-12 episodes along with a bunch of other experimental stuff, including a pay-per-view episode, new merch, and even a screening tour.
MFF: How many episodes are there now?
CE: I’ve made 18 episodes so far across 2 seasons, with a few trailers and bonus clips along the way.
MFF: Where can they be seen?
CE: They’re all up on my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/storiesofbike or you can head to www.storiesofbike.com to watch the episodes and also get extra content like behind the scenes footage and more.
MFF: What have you discovered about yourself as a filmmaker and rider through making these films?
CE: Having only been regularly making videos for 4 years and doing it professionally for 2, you could say I started out late in the game. So, it would be safe to say that I’ve learned just about everything about being a filmmaker through the making of these Stories of Bike episodes. I started the series as a way for me to fast-track my filmmaking experience and build up the confidence to have my own style and make creative decisions without regret.
MFF: How did you find out about the MFF? What years and films have you been included?
CE: I can’t remember exactly how I found out about the MFF. I think I stumbled across it while searching for moto related film festivals that I could submit the series to. Either way, I’m glad I did. For two years running, I had 4 of my episodes selected to be shown in the 2014 and 2015 festivals.
MFF: Have you attended the Motorcycle Film Festival?
CE: I sure have! Through the amazing generosity of the moto community here in Sydney, I was given a surprise return ticket to NYC to attend the MFF in 2014. I had back surgery a few months before and missed out attending another festival where I picked up a couple of awards. Jodie, who is featured in Dream, didn’t want me missing out on another awesome event and rallied the community here to raise some money to send me over. I’ll never forget the day Jodie and a bunch of super cool mates sprung that on me at the Rising Sun Workshop. Actually attending the MFF was even better. I had the most amazing time.
MFF: Anything else you’d like to add?
CE:I just hope everyone can get along to the MFF. It’s a fantastic event with an amazing bunch of people.
MFF: Two episodes of Stories Of Bike ‘Discovery‘ and ‘Dream‘ which feature women riders, have been featured at the MFF and will travel with us to Petrolettes in Berlin, July 29-31. So we asked Cam what his experience has been filming with female riders as subjects?
CE: In my episodes, I’ve always wanted to treat women just like any other rider I feature. That might not sound like anything special, but it is because it’s still a bit of a rare thing. All of the women I’ve featured haven’t thought anything special of themselves and simply want to ride for the joy of it, but hope that more women join them in the future. I think perhaps the difference between the way that guys and girls ride is that guys can go riding for the sense of power on the bike and connection to the world around them, whereas women can do that too, but enjoy sharing that experience with others.
MFF: Raw and genuine, Richie Pan’s America the Series was first started in collaboration with the late Richie Panarra, tattooist, motorcyclist and artist. Can you tell us a bit about how you first became involved in this project?
PM: I make a living working in reality TV. Once or twice a year, I’d end up in South Jersey and go visit Richie, and sometimes get tattooed. As we became friends, we often talked about making a real motorcycle or tattoo show. One focused on the true characters that shape both cultures everyday, not manipulated drama. In April 2015, we decided to try something and see where it led.
MFF: What did you learn about Richie’s impact on the motorcycling community and the tattoo industry?
PM: It was very personal. Richie touched the lives of a lot of people in both communities. He was also somewhat of a historian for both. He had an immense respect for the people who came before him.
MFF: And what did you learn about his love of his panhead, Viola?
PM: He frequently said that Viola was the coolest bike in the world. And she might be. There are details for days on that panhead. Mixed matched parts, missing bolts, and seemingly random customizations. It may be his best work of art.
MFF: Anything new you learned from a production or direction standpoint?
PM: This was a really small project; just me and the person I was interviewing for most of it. I feel like that intimacy made it easy for the guys to open up. They lost awareness of the camera and just talked. The challenge of this was letting go of the way things are normally done. I recorded audio straight to the cameras, didn’t use monitors, or crew members to manage either. For safety, I ran 2 cameras, a wide and a tight, right next to each other. Each camera had separate audio. For the most part it worked out, but I would definitely make sure I could monitor audio next time.
MFF: Favorite memories filming on location?
PM: Shooting Tommy Granger at “The Church of What’s Happening.” Richie loaned me his Street Glide so I could ride over with him, Cindy, and Joe Fessman. Tommy and Richie’s dynamic was perfect, they had us laughing the whole day. We drank beer and ate hot dogs while we shot. It was the last interview Richie did and a day I’ll never forget. Richie left behind countless friends and contemporaries. It was incredible hearing people’s memories about him in Richie Pan Forever. Do you have any favorite sound bites or shots from the film? Fat Bob didn’t want to go on camera. I had asked early on and he wasn’t into it. He stopped by while I was interviewing Von Rothinfink. After a couple of drinks, he agreed to tell a couple of stories, and I got a little more out of him. Including the last clip of the film. That clip gets a tear from me every time.
MFF: Any production or direction challenges you’d like to cite?
PM: The huge one was losing my co-producer. Richie was not only on-camera talent, but a creative partner in the project. His passing not only changed the trajectory of the project, but the impact it would have. No doubt it would be an even better series if he were here to put his fingerprints on it.
MFF: Do you ride yourself? If so, what are your earliest memories of motorcycles?
PM: Yes. I ride pretty much everyday. When I was a pretty young kid, I had a neighbor who was a biker. He’d kick his bike over and the whole complex would shake. I couldn’t get enough of it.
MFF: And what do you ride these days?
PM: My everyday ride is an ’86 Softail with a narrow glide front end. It’s gotten me from coast to coast as well as all over LA for work. I also have a 1980 Shovelhead stroker in a jammer frame that was built by Alex Lopez and company at Born Free Cycles in Burbank, CA.
MFF: What are some of your favorite motorcycle films?
PM: Choppertown: The Sinners, the El Diablo Run movie, and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.
MFF: Favorite annual moto events?
PM: Annual: Hazzard County. Biannual: El Diablo Run
MFF: Will you be attending this year’s Motorcycle Film Festival?
PM: I never know where I’m going to be. My professional life is a little crazy that way but I would really like to.
MFF: What’s to come from Pete McGill?
PM: Only time will tell. I have a few other ideas and things I’ve spoken to people about. My business as a lighting designer and flying coast to coast to spend time with my children keep me pretty busy, but I hope there will be time.
MFF: Any MFF exclusive you’d like to share with us? Something that folks don’t know about your work or process?
PM: I try to let people finish their thoughts. It makes it harder to get concise sound bites, but being genuine is more important to me. Sometimes that means the final edit has a lot more of my voice in it than it should.
Cine Meccanica is organized by MFF Founder Corinna Mantlo. It’s been a long standing home to everything from historic unknown films, to the worst of ‘B’ movie biker trash, to world premiers. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the film on the big screen while it’s in consideration for the 4th annual MFF.
The Motorcycle Film Festival (MFF) is excited to announce that we are teaming up with Irene Kotnik of The Curves MC to screen women-centric films of the MFF during the Petrolettes camp-out weekend in Berlin, Germany from 29-31 July.
Petrolettes is a ladies-only camping weekend, celebrating women and motorcycles and will be chock-full of racing, music, and films! Created and managed by Irene Kotnik and The Curves MC, the weekend promises to be a fantastic time! The full schedule of events for the weekend can be found below or on the Petrolettes website.
Irene is no stranger to motorcycles or film as she co-founded The Curves MC, a women’s moto group in Berlin, and has held various positions within the film community. She has a passion for uniting women in gasoline culture and because of that passion, is organizing the first annual Petrolettes with The Curves. She is also an MFF Judge this year, so when she asked us if we wanted to participate, we jumped at the chance!
Because Petrolettes is a ladies weekend, we will be screening films that feature and/or were filmed by women. The MFF is looking to continue moving the discussion forward about how and where women fit into motorcycles and art and to also highlight the women behind the scenes of both the film and motorcycle communities – with Petrolettes offering a perfect opportunity to do so.
FRIDAY 3 pm Opening of the Gates, meet and greet
later BBQ special Burgers by Edelweiss36
in the evening Music and outdoor cinema hosted by Motorcycle Film Festival NY
SATURDAY 10-12 am Breakfast 13-16 pm The Petrolettes Race 16-21 pm Vendors and Fleamarket
later Raffle, Dinner, Bands and DJ
SUNDAY 10-12 am Hangover cure breakfast 13-16 pm Packing up and kick out 21 pm Aftershow party at Wild at Heart, Kreuzberg– for boys and girls
The Curves Berlin, an all-female motorcycle club is staging the first annual Petrolettes event in Berlin from July, 29-31 2016. A weekend with concerts, performances, film screenings and motorcycle sprints. Petrolettes is a unique and colorful spectacle in which everything revolves around rolling wheels – true to the motto: unite-rally-race party-dance-camp-repeat.