Untitled is a group of bike builders who are like bespoke tailors who can make anything you dream of bike-wise. They strip old bikes such as BMWs and Hondas and bring them back to life.
The project, which came through producer Mark Lonsdale, was to create an almost anti-bike ad, avoiding bike film clichés of Top Gear-style montages, which no matter how beautifully shot soon begin to feel like a catalogue film.
The incredible roar of the newly resurrected beasts was the unifying branding point of the bikes and we decided to use this to build the presence of the bike through the film.
I wanted to keep some of the underground grit that Untitled have, their workshops are in Camden underneath arches that echo with the sound of the overground trains above, and this helped to crystalize a tone for the film.
We shot in locations in South Bermondsey, London, guerilla style, keeping the wide, master shot clean and simple to let the bike meld with the gritty landscape which certainly helped with the small windows of time when we could race a bike through a street before a car would break the shot or I had to move onto the next set-up.
I have to admit even though deep down I knew this film was black and white, I resisted it initially as I’d shot a film for Ted Baker in black and white and didn’t want to repeat myself, but from a technical point, as we had such a small budget shooting in black and white, on an Arri Alexa, helped save on lighting, shooting on two very moody, short six-hour consecutive Sundays.
Casting was tough, as we wanted three bikers who looked the part, and would work for expenses only on the weekend of the European Cup final, and who were insured to ride that size of bike and pass Adam from Untitled’s interview to ride his babies. This meant we shot on the first week with just one biker, so a little rejig of the script was called for.
I shot at breakneck speed trying to get this over ambitious script all done; and mostly we did. I did drop stuff – but don’t get me started on that!
One of my other favorite films from my reel is Ted Baker, again shot on a very small budget (see Related Content). Watching Mr Ted Baker himself, Ray Kelvin, go into the cold sea in his trunks for the film, I wonder how many CEO’s would do that for you?