Update: April 18
There is a special screening in Monterey, CA on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30.
“Singletrack High” a new documentary from brothers Jacob Seigel-Boettner and Isaac Seigel-Boettner premiered to a sold out crowd at Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA earlier last month. The film, shot during the 2012 mountain biking season follows a diverse group of high school students as they battle through the NorCal High School Cycling League.
Last week I was able to catch a screening of the documentary at Specialized’s global headquarters in Morgan Hill, CA. The screening kicks off a national screening tour that starts here in the Northern California area, but will expand out to the current 10 states where NICA leagues are established and then onto other states.
On hand were the directors of the movie Jacob Seigel-Boettner and Isaac Seigel-Boettner. The two documentary filmmakers spent countless hours zig zagging all over Northern California to follow and interview the 8 high school kids featured in the film. All told, they racked up nearly 20,000 miles in a Volkswagen Golf, shooting over 200 hours of footage, for a total of 6 terabytes of data. The film runs for just over an hour, so plenty of footage had to be left on the cutting room floor. The stories that made it into the film are just a sampling of the 2500+ kids who will be racing in 2013. They come from diverse backgrounds, but all share the same contagious smiles come race day.
The featured high school kids are:
Tess Wenning – Woodcreek High School Cycling Team
Cody Lippold – Placer Foothills MTB Club
Carlos Hernandez – Sacramento Police Department High School Mountain Biking Program (Luther Burbank High School) graduated: now at UC Santa Cruz
Mackinzie Stanley – Sir Francis Drake (“Drake”) High School Mountain Bike Team graduated: now at Whitman College
Liz, Colin, and Pat Maguire – Casa Grande High School Mountain Bike Team
Eliel Anttila – Branson Mountain Bike Team graduated: now at UC Berkeley
We won’t spoil the film for you, other than to say; you’ve got to see this film. Better yet, you and five or six of your closest friends have to go see this film. Bring the kids too, because we’d find it hard to believe any kid won’t relate to or get inspired by the kids in this film. The film does a masterful job of showcasing what NICA is all about and what the kids who participate in the league get from it. From an inner city kid that finds a means to escape the rough neighborhoods of South Sacramento to a pair of girls breaking into a sport traditionally dominated by boys. One thing is for sure, these kids are driven and really stoked about riding their bikes.
Catching up with Jacob Seigel-Boettner after the screening, we were able to get a little more background into how this film came about.
MTBR: How did you and your brother get involved?
Jacob: Our previous film, With My Own Two Wheels, focused on the bicycle as a vehicle for change, mostly in developing countries. Throughout the screening tour for WMOTW, we were encouraging audiences to take action by donating to World Bicycle Relief, a great non-profit that empowers students, health workers, and entrepreneurs across Africa with bicycles. After several screenings, we came to the realization that while it was great to encourage people in the U.S. to promote bike use in developing countries, eventually many of this countries might go the way of China. That is, as they become more wealthy, they look to the U.S. as the model of a “developed” country. What do they see? They see cars.
We wanted our next film to encourage us all to “practice what we preach.” We wanted to encourage bike use in the U.S. in a way that was both new and exciting. As former high school racers ourselves, we had followed the NorCal League and NICA since their infancy, and knew first hand the change that they were creating. In the U.S., kids often stop riding at 16 when they get their license and first set of keys. High school mountain bike racing is a great way to ensure that kids never stop riding and valuing the bicycle. We had found the topic for our next film. I approached Matt Fritzinger at NICA, and he was stoked about the idea. Mike Sinyard at Specialized–a long time supporter and believer in the high school mountain bike movement–saw the value in bringing the story to the masses, and generously stepped up to fund the entire effort.
MTBR: What support did you guys have to make this film happen?
Jacob: Specialized Bicycle Components and Mike Sinyard stepped up big and funded the entire film. They have been long time believers in and supports of the high school mountain biking movement, and saw the value of sharing its stories with a larger audience nation-wide. Sunnyvale VW and GoPro generously provided additional production support.
MTBR: It appears that your films have a common theme, how the bike can change people’s lives, is this coincidental or is that a mission statement for Pedal Born Pictures?
Jacob: My brother Isaac and I were both brought home from the hospital in bike trailers, so I guess it is in our blood! Our parents are both school teachers, and our family vacations from 9 months old on were bike tours all over the world with their students. Traveling by bike, you see things and meet people who would just be a blur in the window had you been traveling by car. The bike played a huge role in shaping both how and what we saw growing up.
As filmmakers, the more we dug around, the more we realized that there are a huge number of compelling bike-related stories out there, and audiences are hungry for them. The bike is this nearly universal machine that brings a unique sense of freedom–and a smile–to everyone who swings a leg over the top tube, whether they are a health worker in Zambia or a high school bike racer in the U.S. When it came time to name the company, Pedal Born Pictures was a natural fit.
MTBR: You mentioned the national tour, how long do you plan on touring with the film? And do you have a next project coming up?
Jacob: The goal of this film is to get more kids out on bikes and grow the national high school mountain bike racing movement, so we will tour the film for as long as we can find audiences! That said, the big push is really this year, as we do have a few more projects coming down the pipe. Our next film will be about three handicapped Rwandan genocide survivors riding their bikes across their country to raise awareness about how able supposedly “disabled” people can be. We are in the early fundraising and planning stages, and hope to go into production in late summer/early fall.
MTBR: Are there plans to get this film shown in classrooms?
Jacob: Yes! We want as many kids as possible to see the film. By including a very diverse group of characters in Singletrack High, we hope that every kid who sees the movie can relate to or be inspired by one of the kids in the film. If there are any parents, teachers, or administrators who are interested in bringing the film to their school, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Singletrack High Teaser Video:
For more video previews, check out page two…
Singletrack High Screenings
For a list of all the tour dates, visit NICA’s website here. For those attending The Sea Otter Classic, it’s just be confirmed that there will be a screening during the event at the historic Golden State Theatre.