SingleTrack High: behind the scenes

If you haven’t already gotten news about the screenings of SingleTrack High – stay tuned.  Every league will be putting on a fundraiser around the film, which showcases NorCal student-athletes through their season.  Here is a link to the trailer, which does the film much more justice than any written description can.

The first screening – from the NorCal League – takes place Wednesday, February 6th, at 8:00 p.m at 142 Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley CA.  For more information and tickets click here.

To learn more about the film and its story, NICA sat down with film producers Jacob and Isaac Seigel-Boettner (brothers and alumni of the NorCal League) and asked some great questions.

Photo credit: Ian Wexler. Jacob and Isaac filming in India for the “With My Own Two Wheels”

Q: What is Pedal Born Pictures?
A: Pedal Born Pictures is an independent documentary production company based in the Bay Area. Our goal is to shed light on compelling stories that are often hiding in plain sight.  As cyclists, as well as storytellers, many of our projects focus on the impact of the bicycle as a tool for social change on a local as well as a global scale.

Q: What is your history in cycling?
A: Our parents brought us both home from the hospital in bike trailers when we were born, so two wheels have really been there since the beginning. We grew up bike touring with our parents and mountain biking for fun, but racing didn’t come until later. In 2005, we started a mountain bike club at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, before the SoCal League existed. That was our first exposure to mountain bike racing. We both went on to race for Cal Cycling, UC Berkeley’s intercollegiateteam.

Q: What made you decide to pursue SingleTrack High as a Project?
A: Our last film, With My Own Two Wheels (WMOTW), showcased the bicycle as a tool for global development. While on tour with WMOTW, we realized that many of the people and countries that we featured in the film will eventually look to the United States as the model of “developed” society. In doing so, they could go the way of China–abandoning bikes as something associated with poverty, and making the transition to a car-centric society. We wanted our next film to examine when and why Americans stop riding bikes, and what can be done to prevent this.

Q: Would you say creating social change is your biggest motivator as Film Maker?
A: When it comes to choosing a medium to communicate stories and issues with those of our generation and younger, film is it. So many young people are hungry to find a way that they can make a difference, and moving images are often the first place that they look–be it in the theater or on their smartphones. We hope that by sharing positive stories about how individuals are changing their world–whether it is in Sacramento or Lusaka, Zambia–kids are inspired to emulate these individuals they see on screen. That is largely the reason that we chose high-school mountain bike racing as the topic for our next film. We wanted to tell a story that would inspire Americans to keep riding bikes, and not just see two wheels as something for kids and those who can’t afford a car. If we can keep kids in America on bikes, they will (hopefully) continue to ride when they are adults. If adults in America keep riding bikes, people in other countries might start to disabuse themselves of the notion that only by switching to the car can they become a truly “developed” country.

Q: Did you experience déjà vu from other Pedal Born Pictures projects while doing SingleTrack High?
A: Definitely. One of our goals as filmmakers is to put audiences directly into the day-to-day lives of our documentary subjects. There’s no better way to get an audience to relate to and empathize with a character than to have them wake up, brush their teeth, and eat breakfast with those on screen. To achieve this, we always try to film a day-in-the-life with the subjects. We have the camera on them sunup to sundown, capturing as much detail of their daily lives as possible. While the morning routine of a high school mountain bike racer might differ a bit from that of that of Fred, a Zambian health care worker whom we filmed for With My Own Two Wheels, there were definitely similar moments – from getting the camera gear ready in the dark before the shoot, to getting the perfect shot of someone tying their shoe. It is very humanizing and humbling to remember that we all go through many of the same daily rituals, regardless of our socio-economic status or geographic location.

Q: What resources have you put into SingleTrack High?  
A: Way too many to count. Here are the numbers that I was able to tally up:

  • 7 months of filming
  • 4-6 days of filming per week
  • Longest day: 20 hours door to door
  • 20,000 miles on our VW Golf (big thanks to Dietmar and Sunnyvale VW for hooking us up and keeping us rolling)
  • Over 5 terrabytes of footage and audio
  • 6 months and counting of post-production


Q: Any shout-outs to those who’ve helped you put this together?

  • Matt Fritzinger and Ben Capron for signing off on this crazy idea and helping us find funding.
  • Mike Sinyard and Simon Dunne at Specialized for making this happen.
  • Deitmar Burkhardt and Sunnyvale VW for helping us out with a vehicle for the production of the film.
  • Anand Varma, Wes Willett, and Leah Dockstader for helping shoot footage on the race weekends.
  • Yuri Hauswald and Alex Weisman for chasing our kids around the racecourse with GoPros.
  • Marianne Levine from the Placer Foothill Team for being the first coach to jump on board.
  • Tess Wenning (Woodcreek High School), Cody Lippold and Gabe McDonald (Placer Foothill), -Carlos Hernandez (Luther Burbank High School), Mackinzie Stanley and Ryan McCarty (Sir Francis Drake High School), Eliel Anttila (Branson School), Liz, Pat, and Colin Maguire (Casa Grande High School), and their teams, coaches, and families for opening up their lives to us, both on and off the bike, over the past year.

Photo credit: Ian Wexler. Jacob and Isaac filming in India for the “With My Own Two Wheels”

Q: You’ve spent over a year on this project.  How has your perspective on the high school mountain biking movement evolved?
A: Even with our previous exposure to competitive youth cycling, we were still blown away by how big a difference bike racing has made for many of the kids in the League. For us growing up, the bike was always there, so racing in high school and college was just a natural extension of a community that we were already a part of. For some of the kids who we filmed, though, the bike was something totally new. Documenting its impact on their lives has been eye-opening. We saw how the bike can help a kid find acceptance from peers, accept themselves, and open their world in ways that we didn’t previously realize were possible. We only hope that we managed to do these stories justice on the screen.

Q: SingleTrack High is screening across the NICA Leagues.  You’re going to be at some of the screenings.  What about these screenings are you most looking forward to?
A: We are really excited to show audiences both how large and how transformative high-school mountain bike racing can be. It’s one thing to read about or see pictures of a high school race. It‘s something else entirely to be there and experience the scale and excitement. We hope that the film gives current League participants a way to show other cyclists and non-cyclists alike what it is they do every weekend. Once audiences see how awesome high-school mountain bike racing is, they will be hooked!

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