Watch the trailer for Veer, a documentary on Portland’s bike culture

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on Veer, a new documentary about Portland’s bike culture that’s hitting the festival circuit this winter (where it will hopefully garner worldwide acclaim and score a major distribution deal!).

Now (thanks to Dan at CrankMyChain!), you can view the trailer to this very well-made film…

Director Greg Fredette has also announced the first two screenings — November 6 and 12th 21st at the The Hollywood Theater. To get on the invite list, just sign up for their email updates on the film’s website.

What do you think? Exciting isn’t it?!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Kathleen McDade
14 years ago

Well…the trailer, at least, seems to focus on the more unusual parts of the bike culture. What about the everyday people?

Peter
14 years ago

i digs. music sounds good, too.

revphil
14 years ago

makes me smile.

Paul S
14 years ago

It looks like a great film but the trailer at least focuses on a small niche. Not everyone who rides in Portland is a zoobombing Sprockette on a tallbike. That’s a pretty narrow slice of Portland bike culture, and perhaps the most off-putting to outsiders.

Where’s Cross Crusade, Oregon Randonneurs, PUMP, Recumbents, Alpenrose Velodrome, charity rides, commuters? What about our bicycle industry: world-class framebuilders, Chris King, Castelli etc.? Did they film this stuff and none of it made the final cut? Or maybe it made the cut but not the trailer?

Afro Biker
Afro Biker
14 years ago

Paul S, well said. Not all bikers are freaks. I know Portland likes to “keep it weird”, but there are plenty of regular folk out there who ride for excercise, the pure joy of it, or it’s our only means of transportation.

From the looks of the trailer, this movie does nothing but reinforce the view of cyclists being nothing but law breaking weirdos.

Caroline
Caroline
14 years ago

It brought a little tear to my eye! Excellent!

Hey commenters #1,#3,#5 if the film didn’t focus on something then it would be unengaging mush. That’s film school 101.

Go make your own film!

Patti
Patti
14 years ago

Agree with the other posters so far..that the trailer shows mostly wacky imagery. I’ll probably plan on seeing this, but I am not sure under normal circumstances that I would want to sit through an entire movie about “goofball” cyclists. I am hoping it will be deeper and have substance.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
14 years ago

folks. I have seen the film.

First, it is the result of someones creative vision and it’s not meant to be like an encyclopedia entry on Portland bike culture.

Also, I’m amazed at how you can judge something you haven’t even seen.

The film includes storylines about the community cycling center and one of their kids bike camps, it includes lots of coverage of Scott Bricker from the BTA, and it also cover the Community Exchange Cycle Touring Club at length.

Overall, there’s a great balance.

Of course not every single type of rider is included, but that’s not the point of the movie.

eileen
eileen
14 years ago

Jonathan, I think the point of movie clips is to get people to pass judgment. You are supposed to make a judgment on whether you want to see the movie at the very least. It definitely looks interesting but I understand people’s concern in that I certainly hope it doesn’t have the negative effect of making bike culture look like counter-culture which is intimidating to many. It adds to that, “am I cool enough to ride a bike?” feeling. Especially if the entire country will be watching this and thinking it’s a documentary on life in Portland. Kind of like how everyone in the middle east in the 80s thought Americans all lived like the people on baywatch.

Tankagnolo Bob
Tankagnolo Bob
14 years ago

I’m there!! Looks like a creative work. It is NOT important to me if it is politically correct or politically incorrect, as long as it is as creative as my spelling.

Loose Nut
Loose Nut
14 years ago

regular people and everyday janes and joe’s are fine but they’re not the stuff of exciting or interesting movies, duh!

Aaron Douglas
14 years ago

It’s important to look at this film from a distribution perspective — for any film to have a place in the market, it can’t be BORING. While this film does in fact educate people about some aspects of cycling, it’s not something that’s end use is the classroom, and it’s not a film that focuses about how green it is to bike or any of the many other possible options.

When creating a documentary, and I’ve had three feature films distributed so I am speaking from experience (see: “Monster Camp” “Freedom State” and “The Man You Had in Mind” on Netflix), it’s critical to (a) do a film that no one else has done yet and (b) tease a viewer into paying $6-9 to watch the movie.

If a documentary were to focus on commuters, it might be great for television, but no one is going out of their way to a theatre to plop down $9 to watch it. It wouldn’t be likely to make it into a mainstream festival, either.

The very reason that VEER will succeed as a feature film documentary is that it DOES feature unusual groups — people that you wouldn’t see everyday in any other city in any other part of the country. Aside from the sheer numbers of commuters, a commuter is a commuter is a commuter. What makes Portland so unusual is that these commuters and the bicycle enthusiasts have reached a tipping point and a number of cycling communities have sprung up…

Our wide variety of community groups allow people to express their creative sides — creativity with respect to bicicycles and bicycling — these are the kinds of things that have NOT been covered in any documentaries so far about cycling.

There are many other documentaries about bicycling that could be done, but this one is the most marketable. Independent filmmakers and volunteer crew, who, as in this case, invest tens of thousands of dollars of their own money and/or two years and countless hours of their time, spend hours considering and developing a project they believe has the best chance for distribution.

Think: what are some of America’s most popular programs? We have only to look to the latest reality programming to get some idea of what sells in America.

In this case, the filmmakers in fact do recognize the value of an educational component, and they chose to include includ significant and detailed storylines involving the CCC and Scott Bricker of the BTA pushing legislation to help cyclists. These pieces are very educational.

In any event, I’d urge everyone to withhold their judgment about the film in its entirety until they have a chance to watch it. Remember that in 90 seconds or so for a trailer, a filmmaker has to get the greatest number of people interested in going out of their way to see a movie. They can’t afford endless TV and radio commercials banging you over the head to see a film. They are lucky to have one chance.

joe
joe
14 years ago

hey,its a preview. Designed to make someone want to see more. Works for me. I want to see the whole thing.

get some rest, the rain is making some of you cranky.

Eileen
Eileen
14 years ago

I completely understand the idea of putting stuff in a movie so it sells. When Hollywood does that people are quick to call them sell-outs. That’s all I’m saying. I think it’s great they made this movie.

Joe, yes, I’m cranky. There’s tension in the air. This morning my 4 year old told me he’s an atheist. I’m cranky.

eddie
14 years ago

Wow, he picks up fast Eileen.
anyhow, I hope I can get to see the film. maybe I can talk the local art cinema to bring it down here to key west.
law breaking weirdos,huh?
Looks like a great film to me and I have no problem with cycling’s reputation being linked to an outlaw who makes their own decisions, picks their own lines.

cyclists are the new bikers.
pirates, cowboys, gangsters, and thugs. we love those that don’t follow.

Eileen
Eileen
14 years ago

When he was 3 he shouted out in the middle of church (on the day the archbishop was visiting) “It’s my turn to be God!” I might be raising the anti-christ.

In response to this:

“Looks like a great film to me and I have no problem with cycling’s reputation being linked to an outlaw who makes their own decisions, picks their own lines.”

Eddie, do you have the goal of reducing cars on the road? If so, it might be better for cycling to be more mainstream. Pirates, gangsters and thugs are criminals who are/were greedy murderers. Cowboys were just lonely guys doing a lonely job. It could be that this counter-culture group of cyclists are doing for biking what punks did for music. Maybe it will be okay. It is funny though how much they look, dress and act like the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. Right down to making up pretend wars to fight.

dave
dave
14 years ago

Maybe it would strike people better if it weren’t introduced as “a new documentary about Portlands bike culture”. That feels a bit like calling the John Adams documentary “a new documentary about the presidency”. If you label it that way, you’re bound the piss off the people who wanted to hear about James K. Polk.

justa
justa
14 years ago

oh man, you can practically HEAR the hairs splitting!

i’m so so SO excited to see this film! the people making it were really nice/awesome/any number of flattering descriptive terms.

and i take a little bit of umbrage with the generalization that this sort of representation will alienate people new to the ideas presented. i’ve put in a fair amount of time as a “zoobombing Sprockette on a tallbike” (guess i’m a joke in the flesh), and the large (vast, perhaps?) majority of the time, whatever aspect of that cross-section i was representing served to intrigue, excite, amuse, engage, and *inspire* people.

richard
richard
14 years ago

yeah i recognize an andy combs song during the courtroom section, great song
looks like it’s gonna be a great movie!
richard

matt picio
14 years ago

Ditto Jonathan’s comments, and I have to add the following:

Scott Bricker is not a “tallbike-riding, Zoobombing Sprockette”. Neither is Steven Kung, the President of Exchange Cycle Tours. I saw quite a bit of both of them in this preview, and they both represent average, “everyday” cyling. The BTA is about as mainstream as anyone in Portland can get, and the Community Exchange Cycle Touring Club (ECT – Exchange Cycle Tours) is a nonprofit that runs a bike school and partners with the CCC each year for their holiday bike drive.

Sure, there’s lots of shots of MCBF, Zoobomb, and the Sprockettes. Why not? They’re part of what differentiates Portland from other cities – we have bike culture, and some of it is pretty tame, and some of it is wildly “out there” – Awesome! Veer looks to show some of that – Awesome! But I find it hard to believe that most people who understand the broad cross-section of the so-called bike community in Portland could watch this preview and come away thinking that only the wilder subset of Portland is being showcased.

matt picio
14 years ago

Oh, in case I wasn’t clear, there is nothing wrong with tallbike-riding, zoobombing Sprockettes – I totally love them. Especially unicycling flute-players who wear labcoats.

And only in Portland can I say something like that with a completely straight face – how can one NOT love this town?

Kernal Loose Nut
Kernal Loose Nut
14 years ago

Paul S said:

“a zoobombing Sprockette on a tallbike” is “a pretty narrow slice of Portland bike culture, and perhaps the most off-putting to outsiders.”

i whole heartedly disagree on both counts.

Cappy
Cappy
14 years ago

“Especially unicycling flute-players who wear labcoats.”

Please get your facts correct. This should read “Especially unicycling lute-players who wear hospital gowns.”

Factual errors create an Us vs. Them mentality.

eddie
14 years ago

Eileen,
Your kid sounds very entertaining. I keep trying to get my 19 month old to babble:”design informs lifestyle to an equal or greater than degree as politics”

my thought about the cyclist as the new biker meme started a couple weeks ago when I was riding my pedicab during bikefest here in key west. starting in the 40’s, all the way up to the 80’s, harleys really were about meth and gambling rackets. now they are the new rv.
yes, pirates may have been murderers, or maybe just blockade and tariff scofflaws, but in a couple of weeks, 30,000 pretend pirates will pay my rent through december.
maybe allycatters are the new steve mcqueen. maybe one day our kids will come home with sheldon brown tatoos.hopefully they’ll be traveling by bike.

eddie
14 years ago

ps. I am viewing Portland from afar, mostly thru this website, and you guys seems to really have it going on. it’s really inspiring.

Hart
Hart
14 years ago

I think perhaps if the trailer were a little more heavy towards the end on some of the theft drama/legal drama, it would carry a bit more water with the locals. But then, with such a diversity of cyclists here, you’ll never please everyone.

Carl
14 years ago

I hope they include a segment about all the whining commenters on bikeportland. They’re probably one of the most entertaining freak niches of Portland bike culture.

sally
sally
14 years ago

Carl (27): Heh.

Waaaaaaaah… I’m not in it. Oh wait. I haven’t seen it yet.

Congratulations Jason Turner and Greg Fredette for getting it done – making movies is a lot of work. I’m really looking forward to it.

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

I really like how attempts at constructive criticism = whining, and sarcastic metawhining = somehow constructive. Makes for quality discourse.

Robin
14 years ago

Yeah! Can’t wait to see it.

felix
14 years ago

This film looks awesome. And yes they put us “freaks” in it because they probably wanted to sell a few copies. Don’t get me wrong, going by bike on a sunny afternoon out is great but it would be a bore to watch onscreen.

matt picio
14 years ago

Cappy (#23) – nope, I got it right the first time, and may I say that it’s even more awesome if we have BOTH unicycling flute-palyers with labcoats AND unicycling lute-players in hospital gowns. Now the question is, can we get the two of them to do a musical dual to the death with fire and beer and 400 spectators in the middle of Colonel Summers park? Because that would be hot. Especially if it involved naked tallbike unicycle jousting with clowns!

Ok, now we’re really out there, but this is Portland, and it COULD happen here. Or in Vancouver BC, our supercool neighbor to the north.

matt picio
14 years ago

Ok, here’s the math: There are 68 individual camera shots in this preview not counting titles. No shot lasts longer than 5 seconds. 34 shots (50%) are “freaks” – Zoobomb, Sprockettes, MCBF, Gabe Tiller (a freak unto himself) 😉 minibike winter and anyone I could identify as part of the “freak” culture, if there is such a thing.

Please don’t take “freak” as a value judgement, it’s a label for the sake of discussion.

There are 27 shots (40%) or “normals” – shots of Bricker talking to the legislature, Gabe from the CCC, Steven Kung and the ECT people, commuters, spandex recreational riders, and whatever.

Then there are 7 shots (10%) that I don’t know how to classify – Bunnies on a bike? and the one woman who I’m sorry to say I either don’t know or am spacing and can’t recognize.

This preview is hardly focusing on a narrow slice of Portland – it’s possible that 60% is the “weirder” elements, but even there you’re looking at 9 discrete groups and events just in this preview: Shift, MCBF, MBW, Dropouts, Bunnies on Bike, Zoobomb, Sprockettes, Clownhouse, WNBR (and I probably missed more)

Not sure what the “theft drama” Hart (#26) refers to is – 90% of Portland theft can be solved by locking one’s bike regardless of where it is and using something other than a cable lock. And the legal drama (Idaho stop signs, fixies, police enforcement priorities, trackstands and RevPhil) is mostly not that interesting on film. (RevPhil being the main exception)

Anyway, to echo Jonathan – see the film before you judge it so harshly.

SkidMark
SkidMark
14 years ago

Maybe the “normal” people can get together and make their own documentary. “Weirdos” also do “normal” activities like commuting. How do you think freakbikes get across town? They get ridden there.

For those of you that don’t venture outside of the Portland fishbowl, I assure you that the “weird” brand of bike culture is worldwide. I can go to almost any major city, meet a random person on a freakbike, hang out, have a meal, some drinks, and probably a place to sleep. Can any of you “normal” people say that about any “normal” people that you never met before? I’ll take the hospitality of “weirdos” over the self-involvement of “normal” people any day.

PJ
14 years ago

Shame on you all for poo-pooing something you haven’t even seen yet! Go make your own movie if you want to be in it. Annoying do-nothing whiners.

gabriel amadeus
14 years ago

Matt #33:
HEY! I’ve got a whipped cream pie with your name on it!

All:
I think the main reason the “FREAKS” may be more omnipresent is because we were the friendliest off the bat. When Jonathan’s first article came out about Greg and Jason’s venture (http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/18/portland-bike-documentary-in-the-works), we were excited and invited them to go on a FREAKALICIOUS road trip to Seattle for a monthly Dead Baby Bike Club ride with some 15 of us crammed into a little bus. Hilarity ensued, and now you all get to see me drunken pub crawling around ballard.

Must have been what they were after, because next month they came out for the epic Ben Hurt Chariot Wars.

I for one cannot wait to see it. Hasta la primera!

Eileen
Eileen
14 years ago

Gabriel – that’s because freak=attention whore.=) Of course you wanted to be in the film. People don’t do stuff like that in the privacy of their own home, they do it to be seen and the bigger the audience the better. That’s not a judgment, just an observation. I’ve always been a friend to the weirdos of the world. And I guess I do see the point that a lot of the big changes, trends in teh world started out with a group of “freaks” doing something different and then it becomes mainstream. I personally find it a little intimidating because I don’t like it when it feels like by doing something you are making a statement, if that statement is something along the lines of “look at me, I’m so cool.” Mainly because I’m not cool and never tried to be and I dont want anyone to look at me and think I’m trying to be cool when I’m not. Man, it is such a tangled mess of anxiety inside my brain. Like, when there’s something I really enjoy doing or have always wanted to try, I feel like I have to avoid that activity if it becomes trendy. I’m trying to get over this because it’s a very limiting way to live. And I have zero luck getting people to want to do the things I would enjoy – like who’s coming to my pi day hot dog toss? No one, that’s who.

Anyway, that is WAY too much info, but I was just trying to let you in on why a movie like this will actually probably make bike-riding MORE intimidating to someone like me. But it could be that I am not normal. Possibly.

I just want to re-iterate that I think it’s great they made this movie. I also love to talk about ideas and point out the other side of an issue, make sure that people are looking at things thoughtfully from all angles, and generally just to share my angst with all of you.

Icarus Falling
14 years ago

James K. Polk huh?

Makes me love “They Might be Giants” more and more every time I think about that it.

Personally, I would have done the trailer differently.

And if the trailer is indeed a representation of the film, I could venture to say that would have me making the film differently as well. ( I have not of course seen the whole film, so that is why I “venture ” to say it)

Many in Portland, are now overwhelmed (that could be read as bored also) with many of the things shown in the trailer.

I personally don’t care if I ever see a tall bike again, or a round of jousting. Been there, done that. So 2002…..

But it is not my film, so what does it matter what I think?

The trailer would not however encourage me to spend up to $9 to watch it.

Lisa G.
Lisa G.
14 years ago

Great fun, can’t wait to see it!

(BTW, “Veer” was also the name of a self-deprecating yet strangely likeable Centauri alien with characteristically weird hair on the TV series Babylon 5.)

n8m
n8m
14 years ago

2more cents: Can’t wait to see it. Thanks to the creators for making it. I hope theres heaps of freaks in the movie. Its what I love about portland. If squares floated my boat I wouldn’t live here. Hell, I’d live in the burbs and drive a car. But God bless em. Everyone needs to get their ass on a bike. It seems like the film takes on the whole spectrum, just as Jonathan does so well in this blog.

matt picio
14 years ago

Gabe (#36) – Bring it on! I turn 40 in December, I’m totally ready to get my freak on and do some crazy s**t. Pie wars at 20 paces!

Eileen (#37) – is the Pi Day hot dog toss a ride? ‘Cause I’d show up for that.

n8m (#40) – amen.

Icarus Falling (#38) – and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that one. Greg & crew made a movie that showcases Portland bike culture (normal, “freak” AND the legislative side) to the world. They’re hoping for national and/or international distribution, and 98% of those people don’t know what a “Zoobomb” is, look confused at the prospect of “synchronized performance dance minibike troupe”, and probably aren’t aware that there are groups out there that plan and execute chariot wars, mass rides of people with bunny ears, naked bike rides, or MCBF. It is so awesome that we all take it for granted – we’re bored, because it’s ubiquitous here.

My hope for this movie is that it sparks the same sort of bike culture, advocacy and activism that we have here in Portland – in places like Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburg, Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. In cities like Atlanta, and Charlotte, in Miami, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, and Cinncinati.

The west coast GETS bikes. So does NYC. Chicago’s on the verge of getting a clue. This movie is an awesome opportunity for the people in those cities to promote bike culture in a big way. People are going to see our freaky groups and say “that looks like hella fun”. They’re going to see Scott Bricker talking to the legislature. They’re going to see the CCC, trying to do things for people in urban neighborhoods, giving bikes to kids and dealing with the office being broken into. They’re going to see Steven Kung trying to realize a dream and being forced to move his starting nonprofit out of the house on Division and dealing with an unknown future.

This is not a movie for US, here in Portland – other than to say “HEY – I know THOSE people! I lived through this!”. This is for everyone, and everyone else is not so jaded as to the weirder aspects of Portland as we can often be.

Andrea
Andrea
14 years ago

‘freaks’ are more fun!

matt picio
14 years ago

I was a little uncharitable towards Chicago – their community gets it, government has a clue. They’ve got a little ways to go to catch up to NYC and San Francisco, IMO.

A-dub
A-dub
14 years ago

Matt @ 41. Pretty broad generalization about who “gets” it. I wouldn’t say all of the West Coast. LA? Irvine? San Bernadino? As for the great unwashed in between. How about places like Madison? Minneapolis? Minneapolis has an incredible pathway system.

matt picio
14 years ago

True, saying “the west” was overly broad.

I honestly know little about SoCal. Perhaps I should change “west” to “northwest”. I still think they mostly get it from San Francisco north.

Madison’s awesome, that’s why I didn’t put them on the list of areas that would benefit from seeing this film.

Minneapolis might have a great pathway system, but they have no access to and from the airport (and there have been high-profile incidents with those who try to take the lane), and the area police (Saint Paul in particular) now have a worse reputation than Portland’s thank to the RNC. I’d love to see them fix those problems.

Icarus Falling
14 years ago

Actually Matt,
I spent a week in Minneapolis this Feb. for the “Stupor Bowl”, a messenger Alleycat that drew 326 racers.

I had a huge Bailey Works duffle with me, and couldn’t ride from the airport. (even thought there is a bus/bike only separated path all the way across town.) I took the airport trains to the Hiawatha Light rail line, then had to transfer on a bus to the house that was hosting me. The public transit portion of my trip, to and from the airport, could not have gone better, and put Tri Met to shame.

Once on the bike, I used the bus/ped path, and it was very nice and effective. I was amazed at the beauty and width of the ped/bike paths and river crossings, being much wider than the federal regulations even allow somehow.

During the race (street racing without a permit is illegal you know) I witnessed police holding intersections open so throngs of cyclists could roll through. I heard of not one incident with the police that was negative, and we raced in Minn., and St. Paul. I spoke with a few during my race ( I was lost, told them I was racing, and they gave me directions at two different times)

Minneapolis rocks, Hiawatha Light rail is quick and effective with far superior bike hooks, the path and bike lane systems are great, and the police are far and away better than PPB could ever be. (even in St. Paul)

I am going back next Feb. for sure, even if I am made to watch another broom ball game.

matt picio
14 years ago

Good to hear that – my only qualm with Minneapolis is the airport. My only qualm with St. Paul is their heavy-handed treatment and legally-sketchy searches, seizures, harassment and arrests of individuals and groups during the RNC.

So, pull Minneapolis off the list.

eileen
eileen
14 years ago

“Eileen (#37) – is the Pi Day hot dog toss a ride? ‘Cause I’d show up for that”

Matt, it could be… Maybe I’ll have to brainstorm a way to involve bicycles. Tires are round…

March 14 at 1:59 PM. Be there AND be square. No, wait, don’t be square, be round.

SkidMark
SkidMark
14 years ago

Eillen: I will give my standard response to the accusation of freakbike(r) = attention whore : What about when nobody is looking and you are still the same person doing the same thing? Also do you really think the sole reason that someone would spend countless hours grinding and reshaping metal, spilling blood sometimes in the process is solely to impress others? What an inflated opinion of yourself you must have to think you matter that much to anyone that they would be trying to impress you.

wesley
wesley
14 years ago

Where I come from a ‘pi-day hot dog toss’ would be considered ‘weird’ so perhaps we should be careful how we throw about such categorizations. Isn’t alternative just pre-mainstream.

Maybe the movie is about something even bigger than bicycling. I mean it isn’t like its called “The Portland Bike Documentary”