Meet Artist Martin Squires

December 2, 2014

You were featured in “The Museum,” which screened at the second annual MFF. What was the origin of that film and how did it come to be?
The National Motorcycle Museum in the UK asked me to take part in an exhibition of motorcycle based art to celebrate their 30th anniversary. I wanted to do something special for the museum as it does a huge amount of work keeping a lot of historical bikes running. I had produced a large studio piece for The Bike Shed Event 3 earlier in the year and wanted to produce a large piece for the museum. However, I also wanted to sketch at the museum, as I do when travelling to various motoring events. In order to do this I made a scrolling sketchbook that enables me to sketch on long rolls of paper. “The Museum” piece ended up about 3.5m long. I thought it would be great to document this approach to show people how I work and help explain what I do as an automotive artist; a lot of automotive work is studio based, working exclusively from photos.

How did you or Tom Rochester, the film’s director, hear about the MFF?
I heard about the film festival in 2013, and when I knew the film was going to happen the MFF sprung to mind. Luckily we had finished it just in time to get it submitted.


You and your family have a history, shall we say obsession, with motor vehicles. However, you worked in video games for a while. Can you tell us how you got into that and how you made your way to automotive illustration?
I’ve always like cars and bikes since childhood, especially custom cars and VW Beetles. When I met my wife Rowena I would go to her father’s house on the weekend, which was a real eye opener. Nick is fanatical about Morgan 3 Wheelers and British bikes among other machines, and it wasn’t uncommon to have engines on the kitchen table or even in the fireplace! I used to paw through his magazines and books, and my love for old machinery was revived. We went to events and race meetings, but my artwork at that time was not automotive at all.

I gained a degree in Fine Art specializing in painting, and my work was totally abstract based on satellite photography, but illustration, comics and graffiti have been constant influences. Upon graduation I wasn’t taken with the idea of a fine artist career, so I looked for other ways to make a living. A friend gave me a 3D program, and I soon worked out that if I could use it I could possibly work in the computer games industry. I locked myself away for six months, taught myself the program, and created a portfolio of 2D and 3D work. I got a job as an artist for about nine years, but towards the end I had become a lead artist and wasn’t really doing artwork any more.

This is where the automotive work started. I loved old black and white photos of racing scenes and started recreating them using India ink. Nick encouraged me to show them at a Morgan 3 Wheeler meet. After a really positive response I started showing at vintage motor shows where I would paint in oil or acrylic recreating a period photograph. This was fun, but at an event in France I saw Jean-Marie Guivarc’h, now good friend, sit in front of a Nick Morgan Aero and sketch it there and then. That’s when I had a rethink, “I could be sketching the real thing!” At the shows there are so many machines; now I mostly go around sketching with a portfolio of my work.

Your mobile studio, if we can call it that, is quite ingenious for your format. Can you tell us a little about your process?
Yeah, this is a work in progress. I have a fishing stool that doubles as a backpack that fits an A4 sketchbook and materials—it’s perfect. At shows I go round the whole event and pick one machine that interests me to sketch. Sometimes people ask me to sketch their machines, and this is a great way to deepen my knowledge as I have direct contact with the owner who can tell me more about their machine. Sometimes people will stop and talk to me about the machine I’m sketching too. I love the whole social aspect of the motoring scene and I see the way that I work as an extension of that.

Much of your work is pencil, ink and watercolors. What about these media do you like?
My roots are in painting, but the ink came out of the necessity to do something quickly. At events it takes me 1 to 2 hours to sketch a machine. I used to do just ink sketches using technical pens, but I wasn’t getting the marks that I wanted. I found flex nib fountain pens that give a wide range of line widths based on varying the pressure; it’s like a small brush. I also use a brush pen for larger black areas. After the show, in the studio I put washes of watercolour or ink on the sketches. This is all I can put over the ink sketch without destroying the work. I used to be scared of watercolour as you have to think about the white of the paper as your light, and layer up the paint to achieve shadows. But having used them for a while I’m getting fairly comfortable with them.

Much of the automotive world tends toward photography and industrial design illustrations, but much of the classic scene is about hand built works. Your drawings, which appear in the British monthly Classic Bike Guide, definitely show your hand and a process. Do you find a split in automotive illustration, and where else do your works appear or do you show them?
I never thought of my work tending towards photography, I guess in a way I’m a cheap and slow camera. I can see the relation to industrial design illustrations, as I try to capture as much of the technical detail as possible. However, I try to keep a fine balance between being technically correct and the work existing as fine art. Jean-Marie Guivarc’h, Stefan Majoram and Jeremy Lacy are the only people I know who sketch in the same way, live on sight. I think sketching out and about is really a fine art practice, and the work tends toward that style because of the process. The artist has to be fairly fast and thoughtful about the marks; in a studio environment the work is even more considered and the work reflects that. Automotive illustration is in a strange place as it hasn’t been used extensively in publishing since the ’80s, although some magazines now use illustrations more as something to punctuate the photography. Automotive work has a select audience as it really appeals only to the motoring community, and that’s where it’s relevant. With my larger work I’m trying to push the automotive subject in more of a fine art direction; whether this will reach a wider audience, we will have to see.

You came to New York for the Film Festival, but you also did a bit of work by going to Sixth Street Specials and Paul Cox Industries to do some drawings. Tell us about your expectations before you went to their shops and what you came to find and to do.
My main aim was to use the scrolling sketchbook to produce 360-degree sketches of the workshops, but I was open to change if the workshop needed to be portrayed differently. I looked up both shops so I had an idea of what to expect, but I knew that it would all change as soon as I got there. At Sixth Street the main workshop was perfect for the 360-degree sketch as it was just one room. I sat in the middle of the workshop and sketched away as the guys carried on with their work. I really enjoyed experiencing the comings and goings of the workshop. Paul’s place was different than Hugh’s as it’s a large space with lots of different areas. I worked around the space producing a 360-degree sketch made up of the different sections. I spent 2 days at each workshop and within those 2 days I had roughed out the entire workshop and inked as much as I could. I took photos as reference so I could finish the pieces in the studio. I would have loved to do the whole thing on location but time did not allow. One thing that I didn’t know before I went to the workshops was that Paul used to work out of Hugh’s place when he started with his leather work. I was really happy that the two shops were associated it was a perfect connection.

What are you working on now and what do you have in your sites next?
I’m considering a series of portraits based on world firsts, such as one I did of Yuri Gagarin, but I will see where that goes. I’m currently finishing off the Sixth Street scroll and working out how that will be displayed. Then I’ll finish the Paul Cox scroll. I’m producing these larger pieces for a solo show in the near future. I’m looking for a relevant place to do this so if anyone is interested please get in touch. I’m continuing with commission work and sketching at the last few events of the year. Over the winter I hope to get a chance to do more studio work combining my sketching with paintinga new direction again. Also Tom and I are planning on doing some more filming, so hopefully we have something to submit for next year’s festival.

For more information and more of Martin’s work check out:
His Blog:
His illustrations and coverage of the 2nd annual MFF in NY: HERE


April 28, 2014

Filmmaker: Truen Pence

Film: The Build

1st Annual MFF 2013: Winner Short Film

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

A: The Build


Q: What’s it about?

A: Three custom motorcycle builders in Portland, Oregon discuss how life fits in with their obsession of building and riding bikes


Q: What inspired you to make this movie?

A: I love to ride and am continually fascinated by the people and culture surrounding bikes. I build a bike a few years ago and was fascinated by how simple it was and took me back to feeling like I was a kid again. I wanted to explore this subject further and luckily, we live in a place where building unique bikes is celebrated. Aside from the bikes, however; were the builders whose personalities all inspired me. Their personalities, drive and overall philosophy on life seemed to be unique and different enough that they all seemed to resonate with me and I thought they could stand alone as their own pieces. Luckily all three of them were game and willing to talk, ride, and wrench in front of the camera. 

Q: How did you find the MMF?  Have you made any other films, and if so, is there a common theme throughout your films?

A: Yes and no. Most are commercial and documentary in nature but hopefully my theme is just authenticity. Stupid word but if there is a better way to say “capturing the root of the subject without a lot of other bullshit getting in the way,” that is the word I’m looking for.

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

A: I like the combination of craft and adventure and Moto films seem to capture that sense of adventure better than some other mediums.There is that perfect balance between machine and nature. It’s not just about the adventure, you have to respect the machine as well. There is something to be said for the craft and laborious pursuit that is involved in the building or maintenance of a bike as well. 

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

A: Not yet but want to make it to the next. Bring it out West!

Q: Possibly impossible questions:  Favorite bike movie?

A: I recently watched the Burt Munro documentary, “Offerings to the God of Speed” for the first time and was blown away at that. We all know the story from World’s Fastest Indian but that dude was a legit thrill seeker and fascinating craftsman. It was good to hear the story through his own words. The cinematography on it is pretty solid for the time as well. If you haven’t seen it, find a copy of it and check it out. 

Q: What’s next for you as a filmmaker?

A: I’m fortunate to be able to make films that excite me and continue to explore fascinating content here at Instrument. We recently released a short film and website around the Oregon Coast called “This Place,” that you can check out if you haven’t experienced it for yourself. 

more on the filmmaker here:

The Build Film from Instrument on Vimeo.


April 10, 2014

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.


March 28, 2014

Filmmaker: Eric Tretbar

Film: Girl Meets Bike

1st Annual MFF Feature Narrative Film, Official Selection 2013

Q: What’s the name of your film in the MFF, and what’s it about?

A: GIRL MEETS BIKE is the story of Kat, a high school shop teacher who buys her first motorcycle with her wedding dress money and learns to ride over one summer.  But learning to ride is a more than just a skill for operating a two-wheeled motor vehicle.  It’s really learning the skills of independence and self-reliance, and discovering which people will help her become independent, and which ones want to keep her dependent.  


Q: What inspired you to make this movie?

A: I watched my sister buy her first bike and learn to ride one summer, and like most new riders, she pursued her new bike with a passion and gusto that reminded me of my first bike.  I realized that my sister’s story was a love story, a story of first love, like that inappropriate person most people fell for in 7th or 8th grade.  And like all first loves, our first bike is always a difficult love with plenty of drama, danger and comedy.  I had written other motorcycle movies before this script, but I wanted to write one which was simpler and fairly easy to shoot, so this “first love” story seemed right for GIRL MEETS BIKE since it didn’t require high speed riding or big stunts.  But the meaning of the story was still big, since it expresses the human determination to do things beyond our knowledge, skill and common sense.  And it IS potentially dangerous.  To climb atop a powerful engine and propel yourself through space is bold and risky.  But that risk also makes it more valuable, along with the feeling of freedom and pride that comes from successfully riding and repairing your own bike.  In this time of “virtual” activities and gaming, motorcycling is REAL, an activity which cannot be faked, bought, or approximated.  No wonder my sister wanted to do it.  No wonder we all do!    


Q: How did you find the MFF?

A: I believe that MFF found me, thanks to Corinna!

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

A: I’ve made a number of features, most of them set in various underground Minneapolis scenes:  THE HORRIBLE FLOWERS (2006), GIGI 12×5 (2005), SNOW (1998) and THE USUAL (1992) in the music scene; and GIRL MEETS BIKE (2013) in the motorcycle scene.  Thematically, my work explores the individual’s struggle for freedom against the expectations of the group.     

In their attempts to find their place and freedom, my characters follow and betray their hearts, repair and destroy friendships, find and lose love, confess and conceal their innermost secrets.  Despite doubts and weaknesses, they persevere against odds and naysayers for an ultimate expression of hope to viewers:  that we are not alone in our struggles, that freedom and unity are possible, despite the obstacles they pose for each other.

Q: Do you ride a motorcycle?

A: I ride a 1991 Moto Guzzi 1000s, which played a leading role in GIRL MEETS BIKE, with guest appearances in GIGI 12×5 and THE HORRIBLE FLOWERS.  I fell in love with this bike at first sight, just as in the movie, and bought it in 1995 with a $150 downpayment and a handshake.  I’ve since rebuilt it 3 times, taken it to Isle of Man and Mandello del Lario, and ridden back and forth to both coasts many times.  It has in the neighborhood of 200,000 miles. 

I love this bike because it’s a highway bike concealed in a sporty cafe racer.  It loves to do 100 mph all day, but is also fun on mountain roads on your way somewhere else.  I drove it on the German autobahn full-out at 130mph and was surprised to arrive in Belgium from southern Germany 3 hours early.  En route, I overshot Belgium altogether, noticing only when the license plates were suddenly French.  It’s a lusty bugger, a bit brutal, but more fun to drive than brand new bikes.  As someone says in GIRL MEETS BIKE:  “It’s a sick, primative kind of love.”

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

A: Motorcycle films are a slippery breed.   Motorcycling is an activity, but like Jazz, it doesn’t lend itself easily to a story.  The trick is translating your own interest and emotions about motorcycles into narrative form, giving shape to the action of riding and surrounding activities to make it understandable and meaningful to non-riders.  When filmmakers can express the sexy fun, wit, adventure, comraderie, precision and lawlessness that motorcycles contain, they’re expressing something universal (and unexpected for non-motorcyclists):  how it feels to be alive.

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

A: Yes, last year.  It was great!  And I recommend it to anyone in the western hemisphere and beyond!

Q: Possibly impossible question: Favorite bike movie?

A: Though I have other faves, I have to say THE WILD ONE with Marlon Brando, since it both mythologizes the (probably) not-so-wild episode of Hollister, California, but also, very precisely shows the bikes, riders, clothing and attitudes of the post-war U.S. motorcycle scene.  My favorite element is the built-in humor of this gnarly gaggle of bikers.  They’re not the borderline sociopaths of the 60s outlaw biker films, but a realistic group of friends, with their constant commentary, running in-jokes, and ruthless pecking order.

Q: What’s next for you as a filmmaker?

A: I have several new projects, two of which involve motorcycles.  One is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE on motorcycles which gives Austen’s marriage critique a 21st century update.  The other, ISLE OF MAN, is a comedy of motorcycle manners which sets a battle of the sexes during the IOM TT races. 

Keep you eyes out for an article about the film, Girl Meets Bike in the publication, Wide Magazine


Follow the film here:


February 21, 2014

Filmmaker: Tyler Malinky

Film: The Salt Ghost: Return Of The Nitro Express

1st annual MFF Feature Documentary Film Official Selection, 2013


Q: What’s the name of your film in the MFF, and what’s it about? 

A: The Salt Ghost: Return of the Nitro Express. My friend Wes White of Four Aces Cycle and myself bought this old land speed race bike with a stack of timing slips from Bonneville and El Mirage, and a bunch of trophies, dating from the late 1960’s up through the early 1980’s. We wanted to investigate the bike’s history, find who built it, and race it again. We filmed these endeavors.


Q: What inspired you to make this movie?

A: The lack of existing film and content we could find about some of our personal interests (motorcycle land speed racing, vintage Triumphs) raised the idea that others may like to see this bike and learn about it’s history.

Q: How did you find the MFF?

A: I found the MFF from friend’s posts on Facebook.


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

A: We have made a series of technical DVDs, how to rebuild your vintage Triumph motor or tune and service films, but The Salt Ghost was our first foray into a documentary or lifestyle film.

Q: Do you ride a motorcycle? and if so, what and why.

A: Yes, I ride motorcycles and work in the motorcycle industry (Lowbrow Customs). I have a stable of bikes that include a 1955 Triumph land speed race bike, as well as a dual-engine 1955 Triumph land speed bike (both are land speed record holders), a 1959 H-D Panhead chopper, a 1975 H-D Shovelhead chopper, a 2001 Honda XR650, 2006 Yamaha YZ250f dirt bike, and several other projects, including another land speed bike, a drag bike, and a couple others. I ride because it is exciting, and building and riding motorcycles is a hobby that you can grow almost without limits, I never tire of it.


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

A: Motorcycles are what I love, they are my profession and my hobby. Of course I find good films about them interesting.

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

A: No I unfortunately missed the first MFF, however, I hope to attend in 2014!


Q: Possibly impossible question: Favorite bike movie?

A: On Any Sunday. I never tire of watching it! Cycles South is another entertaining one.


Q: What’s next for you as a filmmaker?

A: I actually don’t have anything else with a solid plan or schedule right now, I am keeping busy with plenty of other projects (building race bikes, designing new motorcycle parts), however myself and my cohorts are sure to create another bike film some point in the near future!

Filmmaker Interview: Kyle Pahlow

February 10, 2014

Filmmaker: Kyle Pahlow

Film: Bucephalus Build, 1st annual MFF Short Film Official Selection, 2013


Q: What is the name of your film in the MFF, and what’s it about?

A:The name of my film is: Bucephalus Build. It explores and documents bike builder, Kevin Dunworth of Loaded Gun Customs as he prepares to build a bike that has been many years in the making. It captures Kevin’s passion for building motorcycles and his uncanny knowledge for what has come before him and what exists presently. Bucephalus is the culmination of efforts among many people who believed in this project.


Q: What inspired you to make this film?

A: It really came down to how well Kevin and I hit it off over the phone. I admire the fact that he is grounded and not concerned with being cool or popular, yet he has a refined knowledge of old and new. In my opinion he has the perfect balance of modern technology coupled with style and allure of the past.

Q: How did you find the MFF?

A: I was looking at places with my girlfriend, and I stopped into Union Garage with a broker who knew I rode and wanted to try and sell me on the fact that there was a bike shop right around the corner from where I would be living. Chris was such a kind human and when he found out I was a cinematographer and that I had just finished a film about a motorcycle he encouraged me to check out the Motorcycle Film Festival.

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

A: I am a working cinematographer, so many of the films I’ve made haven’t been my own, but instead a collaboration with directors who bring me along for the ride. I directed a surf film a couple of years ago that had global distribution and received a good many accolades at home and abroad but I wouldn’t say that the films have a common thread; I greatly enjoy working on different things with varying subject matter.

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

A: I’ve surfed since I was seven years old and it has always been an extremely important part of my life; so when I rode a motorcycle for the first time I felt a lot of commonalities between the two sports. I bought a Harley originally and quickly felt like it didn’t suit my riding style, so I sold it and bought a Triumph Bonneville. I love the deep and colored history of the Bonneville. That said, not a week goes by where I don’t miss the frenetic rumble of my Harlely.

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

A: I greatly appreciate people gathering and watching films that have cult following. I enjoy meeting people that are passionate about things; things that they dream of while they are at work, things that they will do until the day they die. It doesn’t have to be motorcycles, it could be hot-air balloons or fishing, I just love passionate people. My all time favorite are the older folk that have lived their lives and glow at the chance to share stories about riding.

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

A: I am proud to say that I attended the first year.

Q: What is your favorite bike movie?

A: As a kid, before I even rode motorcycles, I can remember watching, The Dirt Bike Kid repeatedly. I loved the magical component of a bike that was somehow alive and use to pretend that my bicycle was a dirt bike. Perhaps it speaks to the relationship people have with their bikes… magical and deep in many ways. Currently I’d say that, Why I Ride is a favorite of mine. Simply great bites that sum it all up.

Q: What is next for you as a filmmaker?

A: My goal every year is to raise the bar of who I collaborate with and the work that I turn out. I just want to continue to evolve.