Cycle Corner in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm was packed. Some hundred people stood watching the premiere showing of a fifteen-minute off road bike trip captured digitally to an original music score. This wasn’t a race, but, rather, an intense unspoken outing shared by friends. The three cyclists projected on screen are usually found behind the counter as the store’s mechanics, who can take apart and reassemble any bike. The applause wouldn’t stop.
Stockholm is a stunning obstacle course of water, islands, bridges, tunnels, never ending construction, narrow streets, traffic circles, cars, busses, subways, taxis, trains, trucks and streetcars. That is part of the fun for urban bikers. On any given day, directors Daniel Buckard and Mattias Modig check their iphone gps, leave the production company RedFilm office at the last second and always make it to a pitch or presentation meeting with a couple of minutes to spare. Rides wake them up in the morning and shake off their workday at night. Why not make the journey the goal and enjoy a time of personal contemplation, imagination, relaxation, focus and freedom?
Biking throughout the winter (think snow) is up 130 percent in the capital over the past seven years. In fact, cycling has become a conscious environmental movement. Daniel and Mattias are not alone. Some 149,998 additional Stockholm lifestyle cyclists join them on city streets and bike paths. They experience the city’s pulse and beauty, get a healthy workout, as well as save money by utilizing the most expedient means of transportation.
On weekends, Stockholm cyclists merely switch bikes to cross-country. Creating unique paths in rough terrain leads to gorgeous natural adventures. This is what Daniel longed to capture and share. That is when he met Magnus Lindholm of Cycle Corner. Magnus Lindholm owns Cycle Corner. He also started as a mechanic at the store. His passionate exuberance for cycling is as contagious to experts and extremists as it is to beginners or kids.
The cyclists were in it for the long haul. Ten-hour days began watching the sunrise. Managing a smile after a minor shoulder injury, the ninth splattering of icy mud or fixing seven flats for a single scene proved Mathias Ekengren, Gustav Eriksson and John Hedman to be troopers with stamina. For each new take, the trio swore they hated the directors but that was (mostly?) in jest. They noted that the six crew members worked twice as hard.
An extensive prep had been done in the weeks before. Daniel and Mattias found cool volunteer mountain bikers online, to pre-test locations and lighting conditions with a smaller HD camera. Remote helicopter photographers were ready to shoot aerials. Jib arms were tested for weight, since they had to be transported by foot and reconstructed for every move to inaccessible areas. The ski patrol was hired to bring the cyclists back up Stockholm’s only mountain – well, ski hill - after every downhill ride. Long storyboard sessions were held with photographer Nils Cromnow. Catering had to be trekked in three times a day. Vehicles would be kept to a minimum - one van and one car - with parking found for each area. The editing would have to inspire composer Nisse Björn. The crew had to consist of bike riders.
That extraordinary comradery between cyclists was, of course, there from the beginning.
Hellas Off Road can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/
RedFilm, RF Sweden AB, is already planning a new biking adventure.
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