In 2004, Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell quit their cubicle jobs with the dream of riding a Segway scooter (or “human transporter”) across the country. What started out as a half-assed notion soon becomes an epic journey, from Seattle to Boston. Joined by a Segway nut named Alon and Hunter’s twin sister Gannon, they cross the nation in slow motion, with plenty of time to see the sights and meet other people who have tuned in to their passions and dropped out of the rat race.
It’s a documentary, so it was limited to documenting what happened. Weeks does a good job of wringing some suspense out of whether they will make it, and inspirational lessons out of the journey itself. For example, Segway didn’t support the film initially, but got behind it in the end. As did several corporate sponsors as they went along.
Not that these sponsors paid for the film. The movie was funded by credit card debt and, when that ran out, retirement accounts.* Despite mechanical failures; a jerk cop in Orland Park, Illinois; and a kidney stone, they made their 4,000 mile journey in 100 days.
At one point, as a tribute to Supersize Me, the team stops at a McDonald’s. I wish they had gone even further at times injecting their personalities into the story as Morgan Spurlock does. The character that stands out most is one who wasn’t even on the journey, an urban philosopher who goes by the sobriquet j.fred. j.fred was the one with the initial inspired idea of riding a Segway across the country, and a visit with him, his wife and his newborn baby is the movie’s emotional climax.
For a limited time, you can watch the entire movie free on YouTube. It looks like they also got TV distribution on the Documentary Channel. The DVD of it, which includes some nice bonus features like out-takes (lots of Segway crashes) and commentary, is available for as low as $7.77 — or more: you pick the price you want to pay. Their website is a great example of what indie film websites should be.
Weeks’ next film, in which j.fred supposedly plays a larger role, is called 10 Yards and is about fantasy football. I also have a review copy of that, and am looking forward to watching it soon. Check back.
* I had a credit card-funded movie double feature yesterday, along with …Around. I just want to stress and re-stress how not recommended this method of funding a film is, as you’ll see demonstrated if you watch 10 MPH.