Next weekend marks the 14th installment of the Filmed By Bike Festival, a celebration showcasing the world’s best bike films. The festival takes place May 6-8th at Hollywood Theatre, and it features the work of 55 filmmakers from 19 different countries. The celebration kicks off Friday night with the New Belgium Street Party.
We got a chance to chat with founder Ayleen Crotty about Filmed By Bike’s successful run, her other bike-related endeavors, and cycling culture here in Portland and worldwide. Tickets for Filmed By Bike go for $11 per screening, or you can grab VIP pass for $55, which grants you access to unlimited showtimes, exclusive VIP screenings, filmmaker Q&A’s, and more (definitely a great deal if you plan on seeing at least a few of the films). In the mean time, familiarize yourself with the full festival schedule and figure out what films look best to you.
You know, when I started Filmed by Bike, I had no idea it would ever grow to have the international impact it has today. Originally, I was trying to do some creative fundraising for a one-day bike event that needed a limited amount of funding. At the time, there were local cyclists making bike-themed movies — QUITE a novelty at the time! I showed those films as well as a couple others I was able to dig up.
The event was an instant hit. We had a standing-room-only crowd and people paying to attend knowing that they wouldn’t even be able to see the screen. There was such a vibrancy to our bike culture at the time — everything was new. We were all eager for more — to meet more people, have more events and make more connections. We had a passion for bikes and we were eager to connect with other people who understood that passion because it was nowhere near as common to ride a bike by choice as it is today.
How have you seen it change over the past decade plus?
Filmed by Bike hasn’t changed so much as it has simply grown and evolved in natural ways. We strive to stay in touch with what’s happening in Portland’s arts and culture scene, where we can best fit in and contribute with fresh ideas. We also look at what’s happening in cycling culture worldwide. Portland is fortunate to have such a strong cycling community. This is a result of so many factors working together: great retail, city support, a strong advocacy organization, a population inclined toward outdoor activities and a wealth of fun, accessible events like Filmed by Bike.
How do you get more people on bikes? Make it fun! That’s what we hope to do.
This isn’t just a PNW fest or even just a national fest — there are plenty of international films screening. How did the festival spread so far?
I love that we can share with Portland what’s happening all over the world by showcasing the work of global filmmakers. This year’s festival features 59 films from 55 filmmakers who come from 19 different countries, including Switzerland, India, Slovenia and Italy.
Biking is on the rise — more people than ever are riding bikes these days — and film technology has become much more accessible. We’re a very visual culture these days, and it’s exciting to see people showcasing their love of bikes through artistic outlets like film.
We’ve seen this over human history: when cultural interests are reflected in the arts, it is a sign of that interest becoming more widely accepted. Throughout the eras, architecture, music and literature are reflections of what’s happening in society.
Tell me a bit about Bike Movie Nights. Looks like it’s not just an OR thing, with events in Michigan, Colorado, NY, among others.
We see a lot of other cities eager to have what Portland has in terms of a vibrant bike culture, so we’re working to help support those efforts by providing our movie collections as easy-to-show bike movie nights that inspire bike culture. We’re building bike community, simply by watching thrilling movies. Imagine that! It’s pretty awesome.
Bike Movie Nights can be hosted anywhere, by anyone. We see a lot of bike groups and clubs hosting Bike Movie Nights, as well as museums, cities and even other film festivals.
We make it easy: We provide an awesome collection of movies, promotional graphics, promotional support and plenty of consultation to ensure the event goes well. We are currently in about 20 cities throughout the year, and we’d love to double that number.
To the readers: Tell all your friends in other cities! Let’s make more bike movie nights happen!
You also are the editor of ORbike, you’ve founded Breakfast on the Bridge & Midnight Mystery Rides, you’ve helped found The KBOO Bike Show & Pedalpalooza, and you’ve been involved in numerous other bike-related endeavors. You’re obviously super passionate about cycling — where did all that come from? What has motivated you to dig into the local bike community so deeply?
Oh my gosh… sometimes I just don’t know! Young and eager to do it all before I die! Seriously, we only have one shot at life, so why not make the most of it? Portland is the city where dreams DO come true if only you give it a try. Portland’s bike community is so creative, welcoming and supportive. I’ve gotten immense personal satisfaction from the events I’ve worked on.
My background is in interactive arts – creating spaces and environments to that offer participants a curated experience. Being involved in all these bike-related endeavors has all been an extension of that.
What are some of the highlights you’re looking forward to most during the Filmed by Bike weekend?
I have some favorite moments every year during Filmed by Bike. For one, I love seeing the crowd come together at the New Belgium Street Party – the lineup of entertainment is outstanding and the outdoor party is always a good time. (Friday, 5-9:30pm, free, all ages, at Velo Cult – MORE).
I also LOVE meeting the filmmakers! We have filmmakers coming from all over, including as far away as Slovenia. They’re often such intriguing people. Of course we talk bike stuff: what riding is like where they live, etc – but also just life and film and food and beer and all the good human connections. I’ve made some really wonderful friendships.
But perhaps one of my favorite things to do during Filmed by Bike is to stand quietly at the back of the theater. To look out over the crowd and watch their reactions to the films that our team has spent seven months working to bring to the big screen. I love to see what they laugh at, what generates the loud applause… and what makes the go quiet.
Anything else you want readers to know about Filmed by Bike, or about bike culture in Portland in general?
We’re really excited about our VIP Festival Pass this year, presented by Portland Design Works. With a pass you get unlimited entry to Filmed by Bike and all sorts of exclusive extras like a Brewery Tour with the filmmakers, a VIP film screening and a filmmaker Q+A.
This year’s collection of movies is our best yet. I’m really intrigued by the new trend we’re seeing in bike movies: Adventure by bike! We are showcasing an inspiring collection of movies about incredible adventures on the rugged road, through rarely charted territories, enduring arduous conditions and doing it all by bike. Not only do these intrepid explorers put themselves and their bikes to the test, they bring along their camera equipment and document the adventures so we can sit in our comfy theater seats and experience a sliver of the expedition. I’m so excited to bring these movies to the screen that we’ve devoted an entire program to them, our Saturday 8pm Adventure Night program.
Make a weekend of it! Come hang out with us in the Hollywood District! Our Festival Lounge is open every day from 10am-10pm at Velo Cult Bike Shop + Tavern, just one block away. It’s a great place to hang out, meet the filmmakers, meet up with friends before the movies or relax and discuss the films. They have 12 rare craft beer taps, kombucha, pour-over coffee and snacks. What more could you ask for?