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🚴 Filmed By Bike Festival: 5 Questions with Ayleen Crotty

We hope you brought a bike helmet and a bag of popcorn — because today we have a cycling treat for you. We interviewed Ayleen Crotty, the founder of the Filmed By Bike Festival, a film festival all about cycling stories created by filmmakers in Oregon and across the nation.

This is the festival’s 19th year, and it kicks off next Thursday, May 20 and runs through Sunday, May 23.

Scroll on for the history of this event and who is lined up for this year’s festival.

🎬 When was the Filmed By Bike Festival established here in Portland? What was the running lineup then?

Filmed by Bike grew out of a burgeoning bike culture in the very special Portland time that was the early 2000s, a time with a “try everything” attitude and a “who cares if it fails” spirit. Filmed by Bike had its first show in 2003 with no plan to be anything other than a one-time event, but the sold-out show with crowds that spilled out onto the sidewalk told me everything I needed to know: Portland loves bike movies.

Year one we showed all of our films on VHS tape. I crouched in the front of the room to switch out the tapes. We probably had about six films that first year, but the volume didn’t matter. This was a time when people who chose to ride bikes for fun were a rare breed, and we were eager to share space with others who understood our passion for bikes.

🤔 What was the significance of highlighting cycling in filmography for you and what led you to share that with others?

Filmed by Bike was first hosted to raise funds for a summertime bike festival. I am an experiential artist who is intimately drawn to interactive moments and the opportunity to simultaneously build community. Filmed by Bike is an artistic dream come true as it blends my love of bikes, people, and events. The presence of a niche topic represented through the arts — through song, illustration, film — is an indicator of a growing culture and indeed we’ve watched cycling grow in popularity over the course of our 19 years of existence.

🎥 Tell us a little bit about this year’s lineup? Who are the up-and-coming directors we are looking at?

This is an exciting year for Filmed by Bike. We are well known for our rather short films — usually topping out around 10 minutes long. However, we are at the mercy of our global community of filmmakers and the works that they have created. This year, the films submitted trended toward longer pieces that were simply too unique and powerful to reject simply because they exceeded our usual time limit. After a long, hard year for everyone, this year’s festival is sure to delight with intriguing stories and the chance to truly sink in.

To balance out the heartfelt films, we also have a very fun program that’s packed with hilarious films to get people laughing — so good for the soul.

Our filmmakers come from all over the world. We are particularly excited to be funding three emerging filmmakers through our BIPOC Filmmaker Grant Fund, a program to support BIPOC filmmakers in telling their bicycle stories. Portlander Anchitta Noowong, Kiki Ong from Santa Cruz and Daequan Collier from the Bronx are our three filmmakers who are currently producing intriguing films that will debut in next year’s festival. Crowdfunding and sponsorship have made this revolving grant fund a reality. This year, we’re hosting a raffle at intermission during every showtime to help raise funds for the next grant cycles. More information about this is on our website.

We are showing 60 films in six themed programs that span Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You can get tickets on our website.

The lineup for this year’s festival include a number of Pacific Northwest filmmakers:

🏥 TBI & My Longest Ride” Cheryl Green, (Portland, Oregon)

Karl Kajomo Moritz faced the ultimate life change when he was bicycle commuting home from work in 2010 and was hit head on by a car and spent five weeks in a coma. Kajomo developed a healing plan with healthy eating, acupuncture, speech therapy, neurofeedback, and high cardio velodrome track riding. He embarked on what he calls spinning for neurogenesis: Improving cognition and overall brain bandwidth and reconnecting with his sons and his community. Funded by a generous grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

👠 FASHION” Katie Sox, (Bend, Oregon)

This is a humorous and funky short film that celebrates a cyclist’s love of flashy apparel and accessories. Katie is an avid cyclist and wanted to create a film that was silly and fun.

❤️ Becoming Ruby” Dave Mayers, (Bellingham, WA)

Not seeing herself reflected in the outdoor industry, mountain biker, skier and artist Brooklyn Bell created her own role model: a hand-drawn hero called Ruby J, and Brooklyn spent the next few years trying to “live like her, breathe like her, be unapologetically Black like her.” With Ruby J as a guide, Brooklyn has come to discover and shape her own identity, one that intertwines her love for dirt, snow, and art — and a voice with which to advocate for diversity and inclusion.

📚 What advice would you give to young Portland directors who want to create similar inspiring stories and one day be part of the festival? 

We absolutely love supporting emerging directors! Editing is key. One of the best ways to hone editing skills is to solicit feedback from friends and experts in the field so the director can take ego out of the process and observe how the audience reacts to the work. 

Our Films Manager Melina Coumas is a filmmaker who loves to share wisdom and insight, and we also have resources for filmmakers on our website. 

🔮 Apart from the FBBF, what are some additional exciting things on the horizon you’d like to share? 

This year’s festival is going to be outstanding, but the fun doesn’t stop there! Filmed by Bike is on tour year round, visiting locations all over the globe to help strengthen bike communities and raise funds for projects. Our filmmakers love this expanded audience, and we love supporting organizations world wide.

In addition, we’re putting a lot of effort into growing our BIPOC Filmmaker Grant Fund into a sustainable revolving grant fund that can support emerging filmmakers for many years to come.

And locally, I’m excited for summertime on a bike! The annual bike festival Pedalpalooza has expanded to include free bike events for three months, and it’s going to be an awesome time to be on a bike in Portland!

Thank you to our Bridgeliner Unabridged members. Stories like these are made possible with your membership and support.