Böikzmöind Film Premiere @ SL Art Center 10.27

Posted November 1, 2011 in

The audience at the Böikzmöind (pronounced Bikes-Mind) movie premiere, held in the Salt Lake Art Center’s auditorium, were welcomed with letter-pressed posters at the door and a glossy set of printed cards on their arm rests designed by the film’s director, Gavin Strange. Presented as “facts” about England, my favorite of these cards was Fact No. 3: bright red with the white silhouette of a dragon breathing fire and, a heart above its head. “In England, dragons regularly cause summer field fires during their mating rituals” was printed in white across the top. I thought, “What does this have to do with bikes?“

Attending as an interested cyclist, I didn’t realize that the event was organized by the Utah chapter of AIGA, the professional association of design, who brought Strange all the way from Bristol, England not only to show his film, but to give us a taste of what a truly passionate and prolific artist is all about. For about an hour and a half, the charismatic designer/graphic artist/illustrator/painter/photographer/filmer clicked through a series of slides, telling us stories about his day job as a Senior Designer for Aardman Digital (the makers of Wallace and Grommit), and Jam Factory, the name he came up with to encompass his many artistic side projects. You didn’t have to be a designer to be in awe of the quality of Strange’s work, or be inspired by his creative drive.

After a quick break to shake our “numb bums” (which I didn’t even realize I had due to his entrancing presentation), Strange put on his filmer/director hat and gave us a prelude to Böikzmöind, a documentary about the fixed gear bicycle community in Bristol. Now aware of Strange’s design background, it made perfect sense that he had been wooed by fixed gears. They are beautiful bicycles, made to look even more appealing by our generation’s love of color combinations. Strange says that he fell in love with the bicycle’s simplicity and the sense of community he felt riding around Bristol, seeing other fixed gear riders and having an immediate “common connection.”

With absolutely no filming background, he set out to document this new passion of his, to capture his friends and fellow cyclists and celebrate bicycle riding in a way that could be enjoyed by all. Even the name “Böikzmöind” is a tribute to the Bristol scene, a caricature of their accent and slang.

The opening scene of the film was a little over-the-top artsy. It featured a cyclist on a white fixie completely dressed in white, riding around a warehouse before coming upon a big puddle of red paint next to a wall with 3D “Böikzmöind” lettering. I’ll let you guess what happens next. Strange admitted that he designed the film’s website and spelled Böikzmöind the way he did as somewhat of a joke, to make it seem super avant garde, so I assume the intro was meant to continue on in that vein. The rest of the film, however, isn’t what I expected. Strange had talked about community, but I hadn’t let go of my first impression when hearing of the film: that it was going to be a bunch of fixie kids riding around Bristol as fast as they could, doing crazy skid stops and Keo spins. This was no Macaframa. There were no crazy downhill sprints, no endless one-handed wheelies, no Keo Curry. Instead, Strange told the story of a growing community through individual interviews paired with simple shots of them riding around Bristol and attending bicycle events. Somehow, this was more inspiring than backwards circles. It’s obviously a first-time film, the editing was a bit choppy, the sound mastering wasn’t 100-percent, but the fixed gear riders of Bristol love their bicycles, and that feeling was infectious. The interviews featured a variety of cyclists, from all ages and all walks of life (even furries!), which rings truth to Strange’s description of Bristol’s inclusive community. Strange also did a wonderful job of capturing just how much fun riding bicycles is, sometimes poking fun at the culture a little bit. Perhaps I enjoyed this movie more because it reminded me of Salt Lake’s bicycle community a few years back, the friends I made, the fun I had, but I think that Strange executed his mission for the film. Böikzmöind isn’t a movie about cycling for cyclists—it’s a documentary for all about how the bicycle equates happiness. Whether you’re into fixies, see them as a trend that’s dying, think they’re a mystical animal that puts out dragon fires in England—wherever you’re coming from—check out Böikzmöind and let Strange inspire you to become part of your bicycle community.

Strange hopes to release Böikzmöind on DVD before the end of the year, but if the wait is longer, it’ll be worth it as he plans to put his design skills to use to construct a photo book to go along with the DVD. For more info on the film, check out boikzmoind.com. For more info about Gavin Strange and his various projects, go to jam-factory.com.

Gavin Strange at the Bristol film premiere. Photo: Nick Hand for Cyclescreen 2011