About a week ago I received an email from Logan Barnett, part of the creative team for the movie Out of Nothing. Out of Nothing is the inspiring true story of four tenacious men who risk everything to conquer the world records of motorcycle land speed racing at the legendary, Bonneville.
I had heard of the project, but the day-to-day for My Life at Speed kept me from really researching and as luck would have it, the team (including racers) were right in my own backyard. Ahhh….the old adage, “there is no mere coincidence…”. I trusted my gut that this was something different, something special that honestly, I had no idea of how incredible it would be, to spend a lucky Saturday around such talent.
Andy DeVol (my better half) and I drove the two hours from our home in Redmond, Washington to Bellingham,Washington. We were excited and as anybody who knows me, you know I like a good story, love great people even more and we were off on an adventure.
We sat down with several members of the Creative Team of Out of Nothing:
Andrew Lahmann – Producer
Colin Dalvit – Associate Producer
Anna Sweeney – Editor
Chad DeRosa – Director
Logan Barnett – Executive Director
My first question was, “How did all of this happen?”
From what started as a random screensaver that one of the racers featured in Out of Nothing, Carl Bjorklund saw on Chad DeRosa’s laptop, led to photographing their bikes for fun, which turned into those motorcycles being on a few magazine covers. What is really crazy is that none of them, racers Carl & Mark Bjorklund or photographer Chad DeRosa, had ever been to Bonneville. The Bjorklund brothers as well as two other racers, Jason Omer and Bill Woods, decided to go race at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
On a whim, Chad decided to join them with camera in hand. The journey to the Bonneville Salt Flats two years ago was all of their first time on the Salt. It had been a childhood dream for the Bjorklund Brothers to go to Bonneville and they told stories of how as young kids, they would go to the library just to look at pictures of Bonneville cars like the Blue Flame.
When Chad DeRosa saw those first clips on the back of his camera’s viewfinder, he knew they were they were capturing a story that was bigger than just Bonneville or racing – it was about passion, a dream and lifetime pursuit to just go. That’s how it all started for Out of Nothing….it truly came to be, out of nothing.
We all have a story to tell and one of my favorite quotes is, “Everybody’s story is equally amazing, if you just take the time to listen.” Well, thank goodness I listened.
It is not often that I walk away from a meeting with my jaw wide open and such a feeling of awe. The team didn’t have big budgets, didn’t have a plan and only by accident did all the pieces just fall together to create an epic tale. When you sit down and start to realize that this isn’t just a film for this team, it is their passion. A passion driven so deep, that each was working for little or no pay. Even Chad DeRosa sold every possession he owned, well except for his camera gear and his VW van, which is now home. He joked that maybe to “think outside of the box, well, maybe he had to live in a box”.
Chad had a good career, but knew he had to follow his heart and not live by “what if”. What if he didn’t try to realize his dream? He couldn’t live with that thought. Neither could the rest of the team. Anna Sweeney left a very solid and sought-after position, as an assistant editor for the TV show, Anger Management. She left Los Angeles to live in Bellingham, Washington, to fulfill her dream of editing a feature. For her, she had to do “something that would matter”. She left LA without even knowing the team and took a huge pay cut to follow her passion. She trusted her intuition and she has never looked back.
Andrew Lahmann and Colin Dalvit are the founders behind the production company P-51 Pictures. Neither are gear heads and both were fairly pragmatic about the project initially, but it took just viewing a bit of the footage and meeting the racers, to know that Out of Nothing was not a racing movie. It was a character driven tale and a once in a lifetime opportunity, to make an incredible movie. Colin has another full-time job just to help pay his expenses; but long nights and weekends are the norm for this team.
Logan Barnett is the newest addition to the team and after meeting him, I have no doubt that his entrepreneurial spirit will continue; and he will be a multimillionaire by 30. Oh yeah, he is just 21 with a wise soul and a good heart. For him, the sense of accomplishment of being part of the team is the reward.
For this team, there is no “poor me” and there certainly was no ego involved. It is clearly all joy because they get to be together as a team on this journey. Again, as there is no mere coincidence, they were put together for a reason, at the right time, and with the right cast of characters, to make Out of Nothing.
I honestly could go on and on and on about how life changing this day was for me. There are almost no words to express my experience, as it was one of those days that reminded me of why I am so driven (and thankful) about My Life at Speed. I was reminded of my love for the history of motorsports, the visual that tells a story, the characters, and the personal drive to fulfill a dream.
This day revitalized my passions. We were lucky enough to see many more clips from Out of Nothing and the only word that even begins to describe what we saw is: epic. Out of Nothing is a story that will compel all of us to look deep into our souls to achieve our goals, to honor our passions, to live each day doing what you love. The story is not about racing or about winning awards, it is about challenging ourselves to be better people. The racing is just the vehicle that pushes us to greater awareness and self-discovery. I think the essence of “why” this day touched me so deeply, is one that relates to that guttural feeling that all of us have when we either stretch to achieve something great, win or even lose. Humility is such a factor in greatness. And when we witness greatness, it is almost difficult to define.
I feel honored that the team took the time to spend with us.
First, watch the trailer (below) and then read our conversation “Five Minutes with…..the Creative Team behind Out of Nothing“. At that point, if any of this inspires you, please donate to their Kickstarter campaign. They need money and they need our help…and they need it soon. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/outofnothing/out-of-nothing-1
CNaz: Talk a little bit about how Out of Nothing became a film project versus just going racing at Bonneville?
Team: Out of Nothing began with Director Chad DeRosa accepting an invitation to join on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Super Rat‘s Mark and Carl Bjorklund and Sodium Distortion’s Jason Omer & Bill Woods. The goal was to turn the camera on and capture what was happening, as it happened. DeRosa and the motorcycle teams began to recognize they had something special on their hands early on; but the likelihood that this was to turn into a feature film of theatrical proportions finally came to light after Lahmann and his team came on board, sorted through over 90 hours of footage, and constructed the first 3-min trailer to showcase how the story would be told.
Chad DeRosa: I don’t think we exactly knew that end point, as we know what Out of Nothing is now – but I knew it could be something. As soon as I saw the visual on the back of my camera – I just knew, it was my opportunity, this was not going to be a small little piece. This was going to be my story to tell.
CNaz: Did you all know each other before the project? How did the entire team come together? What are all of your backgrounds? That “ah-ha” moment when you knew you had to be a part of Out of Nothing?
Team: Once Andrew Lahmann was in, he brought Ryan Stiles on board, as they had just completed editing a TV pilot together. Additionally, Lahmann brought on his entire production crew from P-51 Pictures. Andrew and members of his team have worked together from anywhere between 3 and 11 years. They are a tight knit group who’ve developed close working relationships and friendships; as well as an acute awareness of what they can accomplish with their resources and specific skill sets combined. They look out for each other on and off the job, and recognize they have a bond that goes way beyond any one project. A couple members of the Out of Nothing team were also brought on to join the team for the very first time, as a film on this scale needed players in a few more areas.
Colin Dalvit: Andy would call me in and I knew he was going to work on the music for Chad’s piece and I thought it was going to be a fluff piece of bikes and going fast…I was so incorrect. And once I met Chad, I was really impressed. He has so much more depth of what he wanted to accomplish and so humble. So once I understood what the intent really was, my only concern was my time. There is a movie called King of Kong and I reference it a lot, and I made these guys watch it and it is one of the best documentaries I have even seen. It is about the world Donkey Kong Championships and my philosophy is, “It is not what story you have but how you tell it.” You could make a documentary about somebody getting up and going to their job. I don’t care what job you do, but if you do it correctly, you can make it fascinating. This movie, King of Kong, makes you live and die on this guy’s Donkey Kong game – and that really illustrated to me that it is really not about what it is about. Meaning, it is not about a Donkey Kong game and in our case it wasn’t about bikes. Although it is a fascinating world and that’s cool and amazing to look at, but it needed to be about the guys. When I saw that we did have enough depth, I was on board 100%. The ah-ha moment was when you knew it wasn’t a story about bikes or speed. I remember when we’re watching the four guys and the dichotomy of the two teams, their personalities and it was at that moment, I knew we had a story.
Anna Sweeney: My ah-ha moment was when I got here and met the rest of the team, and met the guys…you just fall in love with the project even more. Out of Nothing is an inspiring, true story of these tenacious men. We want to keep the essence of who they are; and their true story is fascinating and amazing. I knew that I wanted to showcase their talents and who they are as people. I still find it fascinating that for the guys, their art form is their bikes. They look like superheroes…Batman has nothing on them! Crazy to think I knew nothing about bikes or motorsports before Out of Nothing.
CNaz: Why is it so important for Out of Nothing to be made?
Team: Out of Nothing is NOT a documentary about motorcycles, or Bonneville, or speed… it is the story of what happens when you work extremely hard to follow your dreams. And for this reason, it will carry appeal to anyone who has ever had a dream, and encourage all those who watch it, to step up to the plate with regards to the passion they each have been following in their own lives. It is an inspirational tale that we on our team hope, will inspire many to respond to that inner drive toward accomplishing ambitious goals.
Andy Lahmann: To me Out of Nothing is in addition to a massive learning experience for all of us, the perfect opportunity for me to work with a team of this caliber, of this drive and passion – on a project that we know can reach millions. So I really believe that this really has everything you would want out of film. The opportunity to learn why we are going, the opportunity to work with passionate people and the opportunity to…what the story is there is to bring and be marketable that will elevate everybody who is working on this project in exactly the way they need it to. I feel like it is all the above for me and that makes a story that I would want to say yes to and ask people to come on board.
Logan Barnett: I think the message of this movie is that everybody has their passions and a lot of people don’t get to live out their passions, unfortunately. But this is a story that shows if you commit to it, and if you decide that this is what you are going to do, then there is nothing that is going to stop you. And beyond the message of the film, but for everybody here, has shown in their life already – it is what we all believe in.
Chad DeRosa: There are three different processes to a dream. There’s dreaming and that’s sitting there thinking about, “Wow – someday I would like to that” and there is chasing a dream; and then there is accomplishing a dream. Out of Nothing is accomplishing a dream. The fact that every other person on this team is out chasing their dreams – not just us, but every racer in the movie. We all share accomplishing a dream in common.
Anna Sweeney: I have been fortunate to work on shows in Los Angeles, so my dream of getting into the industry has been completed for some time. But it is not my ultimate goal. Editing is my ultimate goal. Out of Nothing was the answered prayer, that step forward in achieving my dream. I don’t want to be that person to take a job just to take a job. So Out of Nothing being offered to me was step one to fulfilling my dream.
CNaz: What has driven you all as a team, to keep going even with very little to no funding?
Andrew Lahmann: We believe in this project with all our hearts. This particular story could not possibly be a closer parallel to the ambition and drive we all have as filmmakers. We, too, have high aspirations of what comes next for us if we give 120% in our passion; so we realize there is no better team to tell this story.
This team is just paramount to this project. This particular team – there is some stellar talent here and everybody respects and appreciates what someone else brings to the table. There is no ego in this team. That’s hard, but that is purposeful. We assembled the team that way and it is very rare to find that; but it was a conscious effort from the beginning.
With regards to having very little funding but possessing that drive to keep going, I think it comes down to the sheer number of others who are also trying to reach the same heights we are within the film industry. We are competing against a million other filmmakers. You have to stay in front of the race… if you lay down at each sign of adversity, no matter how big or small it may be, the rest of the horses will run right over you.
CNaz: The tough question – what happens if the Kickstarter fund raising doesn’t meet the goal of $50,000?
Andrew Lahmann: Should the Kickstarter campaign fall short, the movie will go on. We will have to put in 150% instead of 120%…we will lose some hair, and perhaps even say goodbye to a few things we knew could have made the film that much more polished and marketable for our audience; but this team will prevail. This is exactly what happens when you have the right people working on the project, and it is the perfect reminder of what a stellar team can accomplish. I am extremely lucky to be working with these people, and I hope they feel the same.
CNaz: How did Ryan become involved with Out of Nothing?
Team: Producers Andrew Lahmann and Ryan Stiles have worked together on a couple projects now. After Mark Bjorklund and Chad DeRosa convinced Lahmann to come on board, Lahmann put the project in front of Stiles as well. They both agreed to officially sign on if they could tell a story about passion, tenacity and following your dreams, as opposed to just another documentary about motorcycles. Bjorklund & DeRosa were fully behind the idea, and post-production began immediately.
CNaz: Greg Tracy talks about “In life, if you risk nothing….you risk everything” – talk about the risks associated and the rewards you have experienced with Out of Nothing.
Chad DeRosa: Risk/reward – there came a point in my life that I had to start thinking outside the box. It was really a series of events to put it all on the line. I got rid of my house, everything else and started living in my van. I guess that was my first step in thinking outside the box, was to live in a box. I just had to make my decision and just do it. I had to quit my job and just do it. I had to risk it to fulfill this passion. I knew I needed to be doing something creative. My risk was giving up everything and living in my van, my reward is sitting here today, with this team on this project. I think I took that whole “thinking outside the box” with me when I started filming. I wanted to find the different and not ask the same old questions about the bike, why they were racing…I pushed myself to be different.
Anna Sweeney: So the risk reward part of Out of Nothing for me was…in the beginning we didn’t think it would be this difficult to get Out of Nothing funded, but it came down to the “why not”. But here is a project that looks fascinating with one of the most talented teams I had ever been around. I needed to just take that leap of faith and it would challenge me. I was ready for that challenge. So yes, there is that career reward but on a bigger scale it was a personal reward – and now, every day it is like wow – look what we did, even now.
Andrew Lahmann: We’re doing our very best to make you a movie that’s entertaining, inspiring, and educational with great characters, an uplifting story, and a real-life glimpse into the true human spirit. We hope it will remind its audience what they are truly capable of, and give them that 90-min burst of encouragement to go out and do something about it. Whether they succeed, fail or land somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter…the journey to get there was the most important part.
Tomorrow – we will chat with some of the racers from Out of Nothing.