Edmonton indie film asks age-old query: Dude, where’s my bike?
Filmmaker Curtis Cleveland has lived in both Vancouver and Edmonton, and Cleveland says it was easier shooting the feature-length upcoming movie The Bike Heist here than it would have been in Vancouver.
“It’s almost impossible to do a low budget film there now because the city is almost spoiled,” Cleveland told an audience of bicycle riders who were gathered at Metro Cinema to watch promos and scenes from The Bike Heist, which is still in post-production.
The Bike Heist is about a guy named Mike whose bike gets stolen. His roommate, Barry, convinces him to borrow the girl-next-door’s bike without permission so he can get to work on time. But when that get’s stolen, too, the pair embark on a hairbrained quest, and a bro-mance ensues.
It was written by Cleveland, along with Brittany Baxter, Keegan Callahan and Jason Schweizer. Cleveland, Baxter and Callahan *(above), all studied design and motion image at Grant MacEwan University together, while Schweizer is a friend of their’s who went to the University of Alberta.
It was shot in Edmonton last summer, and the hope is that it will be ready for release by the end of this summer or early fall.
The budget? The National Film Board supplied some money. Cleveland would only say that it wasn’t as costly as Transformers, which is probably code for a lot of people doing stuff for free. The film has lined up an extensive array of supporters, listed on its website.
But that’s easier to do here. In Vancouver, everyone expects to be paid, but Cleveland says it’s different in Edmonton.
He says there was a chase scene in The Bike Heist that they needed to shoot in an alley. Nobody who lived there seemed to mind, and a woman even agreed to let them use her backyard.
They also had to set up a scaffold inside the New York Bagel Cafe on Gateway Blvd. — a place that’s (a) typically busy, and (b) small enough inside that it’s a tight squeeze getting in and out of your chair even without a movie crew in it.
“In Edmonton, everyone loves it and is into it,” Cleveland said.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to shooting in Edmonton.
Many of The Bike Heist’s scenes are at night, and summer nights are short in Edmonton. Shooting couldn’t start until 11, and there was always a crazy rush as 5 a.m. approached and the horizon turned pink.
The day scenes were no picnic, either. They shot a scene in the yard at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters in the scorching sun, and the cast ended up with sunburns.
On top of that, Cleveland lives in Vancouver now, so it’s challenging working with everyone else to get the film finished.
And with all that work and sacrifice, just who is going to watch a movie full of bicycles that’s set in Edmonton?
The crowd at Metro Cinema for the promos and previews were there as part of the Bike Month film series (Metro’s last night at Zeidler Hall downtown before they move to Garneau Theater). To them it’s a thrill seeing their local haunts, their friends, or maybe even their own bike on the big screen.
Many of the audience members are even helping promote the film, sharing YouTube promos or sticking Bike Heist cards in the spokes of their wheels.
But who else will want to see it?
The Bike Heist team believes it has appeal beyond the Edmonton cycling set.
“The story is about Mike who’s lost his bicycle. But at the heart of the story is a friendship. It’s that there’s more to life beyond the nine to five thing,” Cleveland says, adding that the group of filmmakers wanted to show there was more to Edmonton than people outside the city think.
“People think it’s a northern Alberta town that just cares about hockey and money. But we care about more. We care about cycling and film.”