The Wild Angels (1966)
Thursday, December 8th, Film starts at 8pm
Aunt Ginny’s Bar, 652 Woodward Ave, Queens, NY 11385
Free Popcorn and $5 Bingo for Prizes, PRIZES!
Their credo is violence…Their God is hate…and they call themselves ‘The Wild Angels’
Join us this week for the first film at the new kickin’ location, Aunt Ginny’s bar. Good food, booze and the best of vehicular Cine Meccanica films as always. Be sure to check out the bingo game this week which is upping the anty with some serious swag. See you at the flicks!
Marlon Brando had scored with The Wild One, Anthony Quinn had staged The Wild Party (1956) and Elvis Presley had gone Wild in the Country (1961) by the time Roger Corman kick-started the big screen’s cycle-gang machinery with The Wild Angels… By then, filmgoers had also been treated to the likes of Wild Women of Wongo (prehistoric cheesecake, from 1958), The Wild Ride (early Jack Nicholson, from 1960), Wild Guitar (show-business shenanigans, from 1962), and Wild Is My Love(Russian roulette, college-boy style, from 1963).
Biker Group: The Hells Angels
Leader: Heavenly Blues (Peter Fonda)
The constant among these titles is not the motorcycle — although Arch Hall, Jr.’s riding is more impressive than his musicianship in Wild Guitar — but rather the ticket-selling magnetism of a particular term. More than 20 such variants on wild surface in Michael Weldon’s The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, a perennial reference work first published in 1983, and practically any movie-trade almanac or Cine McNuggets thumbnail-reference book will stack column upon column of movies that have staked their marquee appeal upon the electrifying promise of the word W-I-L-D in red block letters two feet tall. “Well, if I was trying to couch The Wild Angels in any historical, culturally wide-awake context, I’d say I was coming directly off The Wild One, which of course wrote the book on what a biker picture should have to say for itself,” Wild Angels producer-director Roger Corman told us in 2000. “But the franker truth is, a movie with wild in its title has a proven better chance, especially if the movie delivers the goods.”
Well, this one delivers — even if its title during shooting title was the wild-less All the Fallen Angels — adopting a you-are-there style to chronicle the rampages of a purported Hell’s Angels faction at large around Venice, California. The glory-stomping grounds are authentic, and so are many of the backup players; only in Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958) has this all-American mockery of Italy’s Venice looked seedier or more forbidding. Charles B. Griffith’s screenplay (allegedly reworked by future auteur Peter Bogdanovich, a new Corman associate at the time) The Wild Angels is more a pageant of Hell’s Angels tribal lore — each brutal anecdote is sharply observed, if exaggerated — than any attempt at narrative coherence. Coherence, for that matter, is irrelevant to a picture whose leading character envisions freedom as merely one escape hatch after another in a headlong course of misadventure.
Three years after The Wild One and nine years before The Wild Angels, producer Alex Gordon and director Edward L. Cahn had taken a half-hearted stab at spinning off a subgenre of cycle-mob movies with Motorcycle Gang , covered elsewhere in this book. This development occurred, significantly, at American International Pictures, which as usual was first if not foremost at making the box office an alluring and preferably forbidden gathering-place for teenage America. Motorcycle Gang never escaped the gravitational pull of the larger J.D. (as in juvenile delinquency) genre, but it planted in Corman, a younger talent in the AIP circle, bigger ambitions yet to develop. “I doubt that I could’ve done it any better if I’d done Motorcycle Gang,” Corman said, “because although the interest was there, the time was not right. The Wild One had said all there was to say for a good long while, and the nature of the real gangs, as they evolved from the ’50s on into the ’60s, came to make even The Wild One look quaint by comparison. So we really needed the 1960s to give us the distance and the perspective, and to present us with a social and cultural climate where we could feel freer to challenge the film industry’s repressive code of institutionalized censorship.”
So, when the time was right, came The Wild Angels, in which Peter Fonda’s surly, inarticulate Heavenly Blues emerges to make Marlon Brando’s presence in The Wild One seem chivalrous by comparison. Blues’ idea of liberty is simply doing what he wants, when he wants, where he wants, how he wants, and then of slipping away to the next altercation, waving a swastika or an upraised middle finger as might suit the occasion.
Though conceived at some point, at least in part, as a star vehicle — itself a quaint, Old Hollywood-style concept — for the son of Henry Fonda and the daughter of Frank Sinatra, The Wild Angels makes little use of Nancy Sinatra beyond a welcome measure of tough-chick posturing. (According to some sources, Fonda was bumped up to the top male role after West Side Story’s George Chakiris balked at the notion of all that bike riding and split.) Corman explained that the Sinatra casting was just a matter of cashing in on her hit-record career, which had established her more as a fashion plate for miniskirts and man-stomping boots than as any kind of singer. At least she looks the part, wisely keeping mum most of the time.
Drugs, strong drink, orgies by consent and/or force, and turf wars are the stuff on which Heavenly Blues’ mob thrives. Bruce Dern lends a touch of dramatic depth as Loser, Blues’ best pal, whose death at the hands of the law — while attempting to steal a police cycle — prompts an elaborate free-for-all funeral. Rather than have the corpse lie appropriately in state, the gang makes Loser a prop at his own ceremonies, a reefer dangling from his lips, after they have trashed the chapel and given the preacher (Frank Maxwell) a severe bullyragging. Blues’ attempt at a eulogy deteriorates into a rambling diatribe on What Freedom Means to Me, the manifesto of a spoiled-rotten brat grown dangerous. In the film’s most impressive sequence, Blues leads a procession from the church to a graveyard, where the intended burial turns instead into a forced confrontation with the enraged townspeople.
Fonda is just what the role requires, a virtual model of self-contradictions from his fashion-plate good looks to the contemptuous set of his jaw. Acting ability is beside the point, the point here being to present a self-absorbed character whose existence is a hollow procession of defiant poses and fast getaways. Blues’ one articulate complaint is that “there’s nowhere to go,” a late-in-the-game realization that screenwriter Griffith can only have absorbed from a fable fundamental to existentialist thinking: Ever hear the one about the guy who didn’t even know he was alive until he woke up dead one morning?
Roger Corman has never denied the exploitative purposes of The Wild Angels, which of course made most of its money as an attraction for rowdy crowds who found such antisocial on-screen behavior safely exhilarating. But the film in its day also infuriated many of the real-world Hell’s Angels, who complained of its defamatory aspects. Primary among those was Sonny Barger, longtime president of the Oakland Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club at the time, who’d go on to considerable big-screen fame himself in several biker pictures. When we visited with Barger a couple of years ago, during his national tour to promote the autobiographical book Hell’s Angel (William Morrow, 2000), he insisted that no Hell’s Angels ever appeared in The Wild Angels. “Actually, we sued ‘em for a million dollars for saying there were Hell’s Angels in the movie,” Barger recalled. “We ended up settling for ten thousand. And I saw him [Corman] and Peter Fonda on a program the other day about motorcyclists, and he still to this day claims there were real Hell’s Angels in there. And he says, `You know there is, because they settled for ten thousand dollars.’ “That guy’s a jerk. And so’s Peter Fonda, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t have any more use for Peter than I do for Jane, you know.”
In addition to the disagreement over the participation of authentic Hell’s Angels in the film, there are also, all these years later, split opinions on whether The Wild Angels bears accepting as a valid social-problem picture. One school of thought is represented by the critic and historian Danny Peary, who finds it “a despicable film that thrives on brutality, vulgarity [and] cheap thrills” (see Peary’s blessedly opinionated Guide for the Film Fanatic, published in 1986). On the other hand, The Wild Angels — along with another of AIP’s youth-in-revolt thrillers, 1968′s Wild in the Streets — has enjoyed a perfectly respectable afterlife as a teaching tool in college-level sociology courses. Angels’ uncomplicated documentary-like structure is made to order for classroom discussion, and its frenzied camerawork and nerve-wracking guitar-distortion score seem almost to have anticipated the epidemic attention-span deficiency brought on by a culture that offers too many choices and insufficient time in which to choose wisely.
Like The Wild One and any number of lesser J.D. pictures, The Wild Angels owes its existence to such Depression-era kids-gone-wrong dramas as Dead End and They Made Me a Criminal. But The Wild Angels retains a provocative relevance noticeably greater than that of its distant ancestors.
The most lifelike portrayals come from Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, cornerstone talents with the Corman stock company; their daughter, Laura Dern, would emerge during the 1990s as an acclaimed screen player. Frank Maxwell is genuinely affecting as the beleaguered minister. Perhaps the most interesting bit of casting comes with Joan Shawlee, playing an amoral mother figure called Mama Monahan. Fans of TV’s classic Dick Van Dyke Show — which was running weekly at the same time The Wild Angels hit America’s screens — knew her as Pickles, the wife of Morey Amsterdam’s character, Buddy Sorrell.
The Wild Angels remains the linchpin of Peter Fonda’s slow-burn career as a movie star, conventionally defined in a convention-busting genre. Nearly two generations after the breakthrough, Fonda still regards The Wild Angels with affectionate modesty. “I suspect The Wild Angels did me more good than I did for it,” Fonda told us in 1997. “But together we launched a bona fide genre — not just a subgenre, but a genre all unto itself, however limited. And it gave me a theme song, which still strikes a chord today. A very distorted chord, I might add.”
Mike Curb and Davie Allan wrote The Wild Angels’ theme song, “Blues’ Theme,” as a vehicle for the emerging fuzztone style of guitar-whanging, in which intolerable levels of electronic distortion would be used deliberately as an attention-getting gimmick. The Beatles had already piloted a fuzztone bass effect on the Rubber Soul album, but Allan brought this style to the lead guitar like a Duane Eddy on steroids, creating an irresistibly obnoxious sound well-suited to Peter Fonda’s character.
Propelled by the film’s success and influential L.A.-area airplay from disc jockey Casey Kasem (himself a lesser-light presence in the biker-flick genre), “Blues’ Theme” would, by 1967, establish Davie Allan & The Arrows as the country’s top-selling rock-instrumental group — a pretty sharp accomplishment for a repetitive piece that amounts to little more than a 12-bar blues with hog-revving sound effects. Although never again a huge hitmaker, Allan and his music continued to turn up in movies, including the wacky 1967 documentary, Mondo Hollywood.
– Review courtesy of Falcon Motorcycles
Roger Corman’s 1966 classic Wild Angels defined the formula for a new genre called the “Biker Flick”, and it opened the floodgates for a deluge of good, bad and downright cringeworthy films that capitalized on the public’s fear of outlaw motorcyclists.
By 1971, worry over roving packs of hippies on choppers had replaced by the threat of rampant Satanism lurking in every shadow. Hollywood adapted, incorporating the occult into the genre, and I’m glad they did. Werewolves are better on two wheels.
1. Werewolves On Wheels (1971)
Dig those crazy monks!
After an ominous tarot card reading, a hell raising biker gang, the Devil’s Advocates, tempt fate by visiting a Satanic monastery. Greeted with bread and wine, things seem pretty groovy, until they quickly pass out on the front lawn, drugged. While they nap, the monks get back to work, kidnapping Helen for a sinister, cat sacrificing ritual.
Eventually the gang rescues her, but it’s too late. Helen is the Devil’s old lady now, and unable to shake her bad vibes, the gang is one by one transformed into a murderous pack of blood-thirsty lycanthropes. If only they’d listened to the tarot cards…
Though the writing and pacing is mediocre, don’t write this one off too quick. Director Michael Levesque (best known as an art director) delivers lingering wide shots of free-wheelin’ bikers riding through vast desert landscapes on sick choppers, and groovy satanists doing the work of the Devil in style.
The visually stunning film is set to an original score by Don Gere, which is a psych rock masterpiece. At the time, many of the biker films had commercially released soundtracks, but this one didn’t.
It’s so good that I tape recorded the audio and broke it into tracks, and it turns out I wasn’t the only crazy one out there, because Finders Keepers released the complete score on blood red vinyl a few years back. Now out of stock (I’m holding onto mine tight) you can pick up a CD here.
2. Psychomania, aka The Death Wheelers (1972)
Everybody dies, don’t they… but some come back.
This pre punk “video nasty” turned cult classic tells the tale of The Living Dead, a rather adorable motorcycle gang who get their kicks terrorizing a small British town.
Their leader, a sinister sort with a dark family legacy, learns from who else but mother, that the secret to immortality is to REALLYbelieve when you die you’ll come back, and you will. Sounding easy enough, armed with a cemetery toad and a pair of his Dad’s glasses, Tom takes the plunge (literally), by doing “the ton” off a bridge on his motorbike.
Tom is killed and the gang buries him upright on his Triumph in a creepy clearing outside of town which looks suspiciously like a tiny Stonehenge. Thankfully mother was right, and an undead Tom flies from the grave in a cloud of exhaust smoke. Except for his skeptical girlfriend Abbey, the gang members quickly rush to follow Tom’s lead, and after a series of hilarious suicide scenarios, they are re-united and set out on a devilish crime spree, riding now truly as… the living dead!
3. Hex, aka The Shrieking aka Grasslands aka Charms(1973)
Meet the Easy Riders of Bingo, Nebraska.
Set in 1919, a gang of bikers (including Gary Busey, and Keith Carradine in his first roll) on new fangled machines roll into the rural prairie town of Bingo, Nebraska. Instantly surrounded by curious locals, a snot nosed kid dares them to a drag race his brother’s oh so 70’s, flame job hot rod. Not willing to be called chicken, the gang gives the Jalopy a run for its money, but things get messy and they flee town.
The gang hides out on a remote farm run by two stoic, dope smoking sisters who welcome them in reluctantly. It doesn’t take long before their concerns are validated by one of the bikers getting a bit too feely, and the outraged sisters call upon the dark spirit of their shaman father to teach them a lesson…
The film, shot entirely on the desolate Cheyenne River Reservation, is plotless, hokey, and painfully dull at times. It does, however, pose an interesting question as to what it was like to live in this strange moment in time. A crossroads in history, when the future in the form of a combustion engine came barreling into sleepy Edwardian towns in a terrifyingly loud black cloud of angry smoke.
Released repeatedly over the years under multiple titles, Hex managed to remain in complete obscurity, making it unexpected biker horror flick gold.
4. Race With The Devil (1975)
If you’re going to race with the devil, you’ve got to be as fast as Hell!
A pair of Texas motorcycle dealers, Frank and Roger (Peter Fonda and Warren Oates) pack their wives, a dog and a couple of dirt bikes into an RV and head out for Colorado. Things go terribly wrong however when the fellas sneak away from camp to race their bikes in the desert, and become witnesses to a ritualistic Satanic murder.
Narrowly escaping with their lives, they report the incident to local authorities who seem unfazed, and suggest that perhaps it was simply “hippies killing an animal.”
Not convinced by the murderous hippie angle, and now suspicious of a deeper dark conspiracy, the vacationers steal some books on the occult from the town library and hit the road to see if the Amarillo police just a day’s drive away will take the matter more seriously.
A stop for the night at a trailer park proves disastrous when the dog is killed, and even though they flee, it’s clear the cult is onto them. They are everywhere, and the foursome are forced to take matters into their own hands, waging war on the Devil.
5. Chopper Chicks In Zombietown (1989)
Life’s a bitch, and then you die. Usually.
The Cycle Sluts, an all girl biker gang on the road and on the run from their past, roll into the sleepy desert town of Zaria, population is 128….and dropping. The girls head straight for the saloon looking for kicks, and it doesn’t take long before the uptight townsfolk are out to lynch the girls for luring what’s left of their men into, uh, “coitus.”
With the help of their new admirers and Dede’s old man (Billy Bob Thornton) who happens to live in town, the girls narrowly escape the mob, making it to the main road, where they run smack into the zombie hoards…still slowly, very, very slowly lurching towards town.
Though the townsfolk have been less than kind, the gang join an uzi toting bus load of blind orphans stranded on the road, and set out to battle the zombies by luring them in a church (you’d never know it was a 1/8 scale model), packed full of explosives.
6. I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
Made of steel, forged in hell!
The film opens with the massacre of a satanic biker gang in the midst of a ritual chicken sacrifice. The gang is wiped out and the bikes destroyed, but not before the summoned spirit has a chance to scurry up the tailpipe of a damaged Norton Commando.
A zombie biker shot through the heart rips open his own throat in a final selfless act, to fill the gas tank of the possessed Norton with… you guessed it: blood. The bike is eventually bought by a local chap, Noddy, and proceeds to terrorize the sleepy town of Birmingham, taking him along for the ride.
This dry British comedy is filled with priests on trikes, blood sucking motorbikes, and Young Ones-style special effects, was the moonlight (literally…it’s a vampire flick after all) project of the production team behind the British hit show Boon. Lying to the TV studio about necessary re-shoots, the crew borrowed the show’s sets, props, actors and everything else that wasn’t nailed down to shoot this witty horror film that pokes fun at an already fantastically silly gene.
7. Wild Zero (1999)
Trash and chaossss!!!!
In a Japanese twist on the biker horror comedy genre made popular in the 1990s, Director Tetsuro Takeuchi drops us into an apocalyptic nightmare where loud as hell garage band Guitar Wolf, aided by blood brother Ace, set out to wage war on a zombie outbreak and an alien invasion all at once in an epic battle to save the world…and “ROCK ‘N ROLL!”
The film, which borrows from classics like Psychomania and Evil Dead, hits all the right notes: killer punk rock soundtrack, big guns, fast cars, tiny Honda motorcycles, sexual ambiguity, and a ton of fake blood. Perfectly mixed, it’s a Rock ‘n Roll love letter to all the cult films that came before.
8. Ghost Rider (2007)
Teenage Johnny Blaze, a globetrotting carny, is paid a sinister visit one night. Satan offers to save his sick father… and it will only cost him his soul. Johnny rushes to sign his name in the Devil’s book, but in an evil twist, his father now healthy, is killed just hours later performing a fiery stunt. Johnny is crushed. All he has left is his sweetheart Roxanne, who’s being sent away to live with her mom. He hops on his motorcycle to win her back, but the Devil however has other plans and stops him in his tracks. Roxanne is gone, and his fate is sealed.
Years later, grown-up and now a superstar, Blaze (Nicolas Cage) performs death defying motorcycle stunts for crowds of cheering fans. He is an unstoppable but soulless daredevil tormented by his past. Called upon again one night by the Devil (now revealed to be an arch-demon named Mephisto), Johnny is forced to repay his debt, and night after night, in a curse that can never be broken, he is transformed screaming into a hell blazing vigilante on a flaming iron steed… he is the Ghost Rider.
Based on the Marvel comic, it’s peak Nic Cage. Need I say more?
9. Dear God No! (2011)
It’s almost dark, I’m sober and I haven’t gotten to kill anyone today!
On the run, a group of outlaw bikers attempt to seek refuge in a mountain cabin only to fall victim to a crazed scientist and his hunchback assistant performing hideous experiments. What is lurking in the woods making escape impossible? Could it be the legendary… BIGFOOT? Dear God No!
Shot entirely on Super 16mm using equipment from the era, this drive-in dream on speed pays homage to the sleaziest of the exploitation biker flicks of the early 1970s. Then, just when you think you’ve had enough, the film’s sequel Frankenstein Created Bikers was released early this year, continues where Dear God No! left off. Together they’re a gruesomely campy double feature win.
10: The Requiem Ride (2012)
One dark evening, nine souls were lost in a tragic accident. To this day, the hearse still roams the rural back roads, its driver damned for eternity to repeat the hellish ride… the Requiem Ride.
This wonderfully quirky short film, “inspired by 1960s biker flicks”, was created by Cal Piorkowski as a senior project while a student at Pratt. He’s definitely someone to keep your eye on.
Want to up your movie night game? Scoot on over to my blog Cine Meccanica to download a free bingo game that works with just about any vehicular film—and makes for a perfect drinking game.
Corinna Mantlo has spent over a decade riding motorcycles and working within the community. She is the founder and curator of Cine Meccanica, and a published authority on two-wheeled cinema. She is also the Founder of The Miss-Fires, The Motorcycle Film Festival, and the owner of Via Meccanica, a custom upholstery shop specializing in motorcycle seats.
Welcome to Biker Movie Sunday, a weekly exploration of the world of two wheeled cinema, including an introduction by myself, and live Q&A with the filmmaker.
This week’s film The Monkey & Her Driver (2016) introduces us to Kendra and Betty, America’s only all-women sidecar road racing team, and their balky sidecar “Dixie”. Follow how they went from finishing last to winning the respect of fellow competitors, sponsors, and race fans during the 2015 SRA-West season.
We know we just screened the film for free, but please consider buying your very own copy of the film HERE, because proceeds benefit the girls and the Fifteen Racing team!
Welcome to Biker Movie Sunday, a weekly exploration of the world of two wheeled cinema, including an introduction by myself, and live Q&A with the filmmaker.
This week’s film, written, directed, edited and produced by Chris Zahner, explores the love affair between India and the Royal Enfield Bullet.
The Royal Enfield Bullet has the longest production run of any motorcycle having remained continuously in production since 1948, though the Bullet dates back to 1931. Originally produced in Britain, RE and the Bullet have become deeply linked to India where they have been produced for decades. Practically a national treasure, the devotion to the brand and this quirky machine by it’s riders, mechanics and builders is profound, and Chris gives us a unique look into this connection as both Royal Enfield and India change before our eyes, and enter the future.
Follow the film on Facebook.
– Corinna Mantlo
Sherlock Jr (1924)
Friday, October 7th
Top Tier Of The Paddock, Tram stop #5 (at the Vanson booth)
The history of motorcycles in film begins with the invention of…you guessed it…motorcycles and film. Right from the start, cars and bikes are prominent in film as a means of transport. Stunt men and slapstick comedians were quick to jump on the wagon (literally) to poke fun at the fast paced mayhem of modern times. The best early examples of this are Mabel Behind The Wheel (1914), Get Out And Get Under (1920), Taken For A Ride (1923), the Keystone Cops series, and of course Sherlock JR (1924) the Buster Keaton classic where he does his own stunts on a 1923 Harley Davidson J Model Twin.
Please join us for a special, Friday night screening under the stars, at Barber Vintage Festival.
Huge thank you to Vanson for making this event possible…and we’ll see you at the flicks!
We are lost! He is sending for the world’s greatest detective – Sherlock Jr.!
The plot: A movie theater projectionist and janitor (Buster Keaton) is in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire). However, he has a rival, the “local sheik” (Ward Crane). Neither has much money. The projectionist buys a $1 box of chocolates, all he can afford, and changes the price to $4 before giving it and a ring to her. The sheik steals and pawns the girl’s father’s pocket watch for $4. With the money, he buys a $3 box of chocolates for the girl. When the father notices his watch is missing, the sheik slips the pawn ticket into the projectionist’s pocket unnoticed. The projectionist, studying to be a detective, offers to solve the crime, but when the pawn ticket is found, is banished from the girl’s home.
While showing a film about the theft of a pearl necklace, he falls asleep and dreams that he enters the movie as a detective. The other actors are replaced by the projectionist’s “real” acquaintances. When he awakens, the girl shows up to tell him that she learned the identity of the real thief. As a reconciliation is playing on the screen, he mimics the actor’s behavior. – wikipedia
There is an old proverb which says: Don’t try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both. This is the story of a boy who tried it. While employed as a moving picture operator in a small town theater he was also studying to be a detective.
every inch of footage holds such a laugh!
Not only did Buster perform all of his own stunts, at times he performed stunts for other cast-members as well. One famous example is from Sherlock Jr.
After Buster accepts a ride on the handlebars of a motorcycle, a bump in the road knocks the driver to the ground, leaving Buster to ride on alone, unaware that no one is steering the bike. Buster dressed as the driver and took the fall for the shot, landing with his legs characteristically spread eagle. – silent locations
The Film (with a great score)
The Making Of:
Welcome to the very first Biker Movie Sunday, presented by Choppertown!
Way back in 2005, an independent film called ‘Choppertown:The Sinners‘ was released. A great film that fit just at the right time. In many ways it changed the industry in how it was promoted and distributed, and it was one of the first films that got me thinking about a little idea I had, to bring the motorcycle community closer through film through live screenings and a film festival.
The film, of course screened at Cine Meccanica, and All these years later, in a true testament to the power of film and the closeness of our community, Choppertown and I are reunited. I am honored that they invited me to be a part of this new project Biker Movie Sunday, a weekly exploration of the world of two wheeled cinema, including an introduction by myself, and live Q&A with the filmmaker.
The First episode brings us a short film that I’m very proud to present. A heart wrenching look at the connection between a motorcycle and it’s rider, by Paolo Asuncion and the Handsome Asians Motorcycle Club. Compelling and witty, always pushing the envelope, and blurring the lines between filmmaker and subject. . Stories for the motorcycle community by the community. We recommend you follow their projects closely, including: Dirtbag Challenge, Dirtbag II: Return Of The Rattler, and The Delivery , where they explore and develop these techniques, though never with such a heavy subject as now. Keep on eye on these guys, we now we will be.
So, stay tuned, and we’ll see you at the Facebook Live flicks each and every Sunday at 11am PST on Choppertown!
– Corinna Mantlo
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: What inspires you? What keeps you creating?
PM: Watching people do their own thing is super inspiring to me. For this project, The Motorcycle Film Festival was hugely inspirational.
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.
Join us Thursday, July 14th 2016 at the Coney Island Brewery for the NY Premier of the film Richie Pan Forever.
Event sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1178993532151856/