MOTORCYCLE FILM FESTIVAL
Like motorcycles? Like films?? You should probably quit being a pussy and go to the third annual Motorcycle Film Festival in NYC September 23 – 27. Ritual catches up with co-founder Jack ‘American Metal’ Drury to talk Czech biker flicks, leather jackets, the occult on wheels and everything in between.
When did the Motorcycle Film Festival begin and what was the ‘driving’ force behind its inception?
The MFF started in earnest over a beer in the back of Bar Matchless in March of 2013, next week will be our third annual headliner festival in NYC. After running her Cine Meccanica film night for a few years, Corinna Mantlo approached me with the idea that it’d be pretty fun to do a moto film fest in NYC. I, assuming that there were already a bunch out there, responded with, “Sure, how hard can that be.” I tell myself now that I must have been completely hammered when I said that…
Anyways, the “driving force” behind the MFF is that motorcycle movies are a huge part of not just moto culture, but all culture. Look around yourself right now. Chances are that at least one person in your line of sight is wearing a black leather jacket or a pair of black boots. That’s a biker flick come to life. That’s Brando, it’s McQueen, it’s Mad Max.
With the advent of the MFF, these movies finally have their own home. Now there’s a place where motorcycle filmmakers can finally be sure that their work will be seen by the people it was intended for.
You describe today’s biker scene as the ‘biggest creative boom centered on motorcycles since the 1970s’. Can you elaborate on this?
Well, I can do my best. “The Biker Scene” isn’t really a thing. There’s a million different scenes which is what makes this project awesome. On the surface, you’d think that some dude racing motocross in Nevada, a girl riding choppers in Japan, and a Spanish kid with dreams of MotoGP would have absolutely nothing in common but put them in front of a killer movie about a guy riding around the world on zero budget and all of them are instantly in the same world.
But to answer your question since around 2007-2008 motorcycle culture and filmmaking have been in the middle of a huge explosion. With the advent of things like cheap, super high quality DSLRs and action cameras, editing software, and sites like YouTube / Vimeo to share your work, people all over the world started making motorcycle movies again and putting them up online for the world to see.
On top of that, “biker” culture is finally cool again despite the risk averse, overly litigious world we live in. Just look at Instagram. Half the people on there are dressed like they just fell out of the January 1976 copy of Easy Rider magazine, the other half just reposted Robbie Maddison surfing Teahupoo on a dirt bike. It’s a good time for motorcycling.
MFF’s screenings are select, but very eclectic. What goes into the curation process of the festival?
We have a panel of 10 judges from around the world and all over the film and motorcycle world who review all our selections and decide which movies are the cream of the crop. We keep the fees for submitting as low as we can to make it easy for anyone to get their movies in no matter where they live or what their budget is. The only rules for submitting are that the film cannot have been made without a motorcycle and that somebody involved in the making of the film has to submit it. Other than that, it’s a whole lotta sitting around watching biker films and some really, really good phone calls with some amazing people
Motorcycles and style are intrinsically linked. Does style play a part in MFF or is it more of a celebration of the lifestyle and culture surrounding the sport?
Man, you know that I haven’t worn a color other than black in like 10 years. Why are you asking me about style??
Seriously though, I don’t think those two things are opposites or incompatible. The lifestyle and culture of motorcycling, no matter what kind or from where, is inherently stylish. Bikes are cool. They’re sexy. Take any person and stick them on two wheels with a motor and they are instantly more attractive and interesting. It’s a fact. No matter if it’s a moped or a raced out CBR, somebody is going to think that bike is hot.
The MFF does our very best to promote the coolest parts of motorcycling and motorcycle style. We are lucky enough to work with amazing artists like Max Paternoster, Rich Lee, Adam Nickel, Lorenzo Eroticolor, “Greaser” Mike Kramer to create awesome art. We’ve been lucky enough to partner with companies like Brixton, Converse who believe in what we’re doing. And most of all, we’re really fortunate to have support from people like our judge Roland Sand’s company that makes legit, protective gear that you can wear off your bike without looking ridiculous in a bar.
Because honestly, it’s a lot hotter seeing someone geared up than gored up.
Which films from the festival would you recommend to Ritual?
Damn, there’s so many good ones this year man. We had 75 submissions and are showing 35 of those. Off the top of my head without looking at the list, I’m stoked for Greg Villalobos’s ‘The Coast to Coast Relay’ about riding across England on a 125cc trials bike with a 3L gas tank just because why not. ‘Out of Nothing’ is a fantastic at racing on the salt at Bonneville. I was way into ‘Burácení (Rumbling)’ from Adolf Zika in the Czech republic as our only good old fashioned ‘biker flick’ of this year’s festival.
There’s a ton man.
You were recently invited to show some films in France, are there plans to roll the festival out internationally? What is next for MFF?
We were lucky enough to be invited to show a bunch of our films at Wheels & Waves in Biarritz last June. There’s definitely a lot of scheming in the back rooms of the MFF but we’re gonna keep hush hush for now. In the mean time, head to www.motorcyclefilmfestival.com and get your tickets for the NYC festival next week. And hop to it because they’re selling fast.
We are big fans of cult satanic biker flick ‘Werewolves On Wheels’. Can you recommend any other films for our next leather clad movie night?
Corinna’s way better at this part than I am but go watch ‘Stone’ from Australia,
‘Psychomania’ to see if you can find the quote that Electric Wizard samples, and don’t ever, ever stop watching ‘Mad Max 2: Road Warrior.’