Every once in a while on a shoot I get to meet some cool people. Even in Iowa.
Such was the case yesterday in Moravia, Iowa (pop. 713) when I walked into a 110 year-old barn where Jim & Shaun (pictured) Wubben make custom choppers. PB Choppers manufactures motorcycles from the frame to the finished product and in 2006 they won the “Biker Build-off” at Sturgis (the western version of Daytona’s bike week in South Dakota).
By their own account their shop is a mixture of Easy Rider & Field of Dreams. A couple additional movie references came up when we were talking about Mickey Rouke and The Wreslter. That’s when I learned that if you want to work at PB Choppers one requirement is you “pretty much have to love Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man ” (which starred Rouke and Don Johnson in a script written by Don Michael Paul).
Movies & motorcycles are often a good combination such as Easy Rider, Electra Glide in Blue, Fastest Indian, and The Wild One. Even today The Wild One movie poster with Marlon Brando sitting on his motorcycle is a popular seller. And sometimes motorcycles help define a character like Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman.
And perhaps the single best motorcycle scene is Steve McQueen in The Great Escape though Angelina Jolie’s ride in Lara Croft: Tomb Raiders beat it in one poll. Matrix Reloaded and Terminator also are favorites. And I’m sure some would argue for the newcomer, Batman’s two wheeler in The Dark Knight.
Even Batman wants to be a bad boy.
All this reminds me of a quote from a Harley-Davidson exec:
“What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.”
Whether we’re talking about Harley’s, lifestyles or movies, it’s all storytelling. And as Robert McKee reminds us, “no story is innocent. All coherent tales express an idea inside an emotional spell.”