This film gets better upon each viewing with more visual and audio nuggets coming to life on each repeat. Could you tell us please about the filming process – did you have a rough idea of what you wanted to achieve or did the story evolve during the edit?
I wanted this one to be like a good song, something you would want to watch over and over, something that gets stuck in your head and you want to revisit. I always approach these things with a pretty specific idea of what I want and how I want to capture it, then I do my best to throw all that out the window and let spontaneity rule the day. Going in with a vision is important, but leaving ample room for discovery both in the field and in the edit is what really elevates these pieces. My editor, Kathy Gatto, conceived this one with me late one night while we were editing Oxyana. We talked about how it would look and feel, but I think we both assumed we’d never actually make it.
Please tell us about the shoot – did you use a light crew and equipment. How tricky was it getting the tracking shots and what did you shoot on?
There were four of us in total, Cass (producer) Hillary (DP) Matt (sound) and I. We decided to make the film the day we left. We grabbed what equipment we could fit into my car, which was next to nothing, and drove 13 hours from Brooklyn to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We shot the film on the Sony F3 and used my car as a makeshift dolly. No lights, nothing fancy, just picked the right times of day to shoot in the right locations. It really helped that we were small.
Very cool and appropriate music, where did source the track?
That’s an original composition for this film by my friend David Nyman. He’s worked with me on a number of commercial projects and also did the opening song for my film American Juggalo. He’s a real talent. I wanted something that elevated, not upstaged, what our subjects were doing. It was also important to avoid clichés with the music; it needed to feel somewhat unexpected. We worked closely with him throughout the edit to make it fit the piece and feel as seamless as possible. He nailed it.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
The main challenge was the traffic. So many people show up for this thing that it just brings traffic to a complete standstill all day and all night. For some reason we hadn’t anticipated that, so we had to be strategic about when we moved and where. The other issue was sound. It was so loud there that I couldn’t even hear the subject’s responses when I asked them questions, which got nerve wracking in the moment. It was a relief to get back to the edit room and realize we had more than enough great content.
Your Tribecca award winning documentary Oxyana was a hard-core look at a drug-fuelled community in the Appalachians whereas Black Bike Week is more of an upbeat celebration of a gathering. What first prompted you to make a doc on the Black Bike Week at Myrtle Beach? And was it two very different experiences shooting these films?
In a way Black Bike Week was a response to Oxyana. That film was so dark and took so much out of me, it still haunts me. The making of Oxyana was really emotional on a lot of levels, so I was yearning to make something a bit more lighthearted and this seemed like the perfect chance to do that.
My family has vacationed in Myrtle Beach for years so I’m very aware of the place, its culture and its endless neon drenched parking lots. I thought Black Bike Week would be a good opportunity to film something positive, fun, colorful and just overall badass. Something light but that still holds larger meaning for those wanting to look further into it, great eye candy for those who just want to take it at face value.
What are you working on now?
Right now we are in the midst of filming our next feature length documentary it’s called Cam Girlz. It’s an immersive look at the lives of women who do online sex shows for a living. Such a fascinating underground community. Look for that a little later this year.
Director: Sean Dunne
Producer: Cass Greener
Photography: Hillary Spera
Editor: Kathy Gatto
Field Sound: Matt King
Post Sound Frank Turbe
Music Composer: David Nyman
Special Thanks: Martin Gatto