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“Bikes, Camera, Action!” Harley’s women’s film contest

By Bill Hayes

Empowerment & Passion

2-minute blasts from a long line of “mavericks”

Hollywood, Dec. 11—Women ride. And they’ve essentially ridden for as long as men have. In his book, Heroes of Harley-Davidson, famed author Ed Youngblood brings home the point: “While more women may be riding Harley-Davidsons than ever before, the issue of women’s involvement is nothing new. Women aboard Harley-Davidsons have been trailblazers for both motorcycling and the women’s movement since the earliest days of the twentieth century. Those who have made a contribution are too numerous to mention…”

Well, with a film camera in their hand and a story to tell, a few of those women “too numerous to mention” rose above the rest and garnered a very prestigious mention, while also making a special mark in the Harley-Davidson legend—and in that of women’s empowerment, too.

The heart of Hollywood was the perfect setting for the winners of the Harley-sponsored “Bikes, Camera, Action!” women’s film contest to strut down the “orange carpet” while their films were shown in the glittering ambience of The Vantage Room, overlooking the night-busy glow of Hollywood Boulevard.

With their sponsorship of the contest, Harley wanted to “challenge female film makers from around the country to inspire other women to get behind the handlebars of their very own motorcycles… [by] creating original two-minute short films that capture the passion, independence, and empowerment that embodies the spirit of female riders.”

They succeeded.

The public debuts of the top three films, coupled with introductions and talks with the creative ladies whose imaginations were transferred to the big screen, was another adventure into just how all-encompassing this lifestyle has become—and how so many of those in it are so creative and so dedicated to all the things it represents.

And how gender just doesn’t matter when you have that biker spirit in your soul.

The host for the presentation of the films was Karen Davidson, cre­ative director of General Merchandise for H-D and a great-granddaughter in The Motor Company’s founding family. She also had the difficult task of serving as a judge for the films.

Karen described the process: “All of the videos that we judged—and there were dozens and dozens from all across the country—they had to make you want to get up and grab the handlebars… with Harley’s sales at 12 percent to women, our dealers keep telling me that even with the bad economy their sales are turned up by females. The women talk among themselves. They say, ‘This is my life now, my kids are gone and I’m gonna buy this bike!’ They’re so rambunctious! It’s like, ‘Hey girl, wanna go for a ride?’ It’s this whole rebel thing! ‘I’ve been the good girl, I’ve raised the kids, they’re off to college—thank God!—and now let’s hit the road!’”

As the productions rolled on the screen, it was ap­parent just how important the “two-minute” component was. It’s one thing to be creative—it’s quite another to be creative within strict parameters. The filmmakers in this contest not only used their imaginations and their technical skill; they succeeded in conveying Harley’s desire for a message of “passion, independence, and empowerment” in clever, to-the-point and entertainingly concise ways—kind of like the difference between the heart-quick adrenaline rush of a drag race versus the calculated endurance of a 500-miler.

Coming from New York, Marta Masferrer created the film entitled “Here Comes the Bride.”

Here in our own SoCal backyard of Orange, California, Melissa Kosar produced “Girls’ Night Out.”

The overall winner was the film “Her Need for Speed,” by Victoria Sampson of Shadow Hills, California.

Victoria also rides horses. The classic freedom/wild-spirit comparison of horses and bikes was key in her film.

“My idea came from just wondering what’s the next step up from horses in ‘a need for speed?’” said Victoria. “Because I always hear that when I ride motorcycles, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I feel the need for speed! Let’s go for a ride!’ And it’s like horses… speed… ride… what’s more than a horse? A bike! So that’s where the story came from…”

All three films were fun, poignant and, of course, female-centered. But they were also ultimately joined by the universal theme that this lifestyle—again, regardless of gender—is gratefully set so far apart from the mainstream.

Marta took us into the wedding chapel in a “slightly unorthodox” way. Melissa put the corporate boardroom into a different perspective—our perspective; the biker perspective. And Victoria highlighted the fact that the abandon of what we do and who we are just isn’t found by mundane commutes in a four-door Kia.

Just where and when other showings of the films would be presented was still being determined but Karen said the H-D website would be offering updates and that the films would most likely be shown on YouTube.

The awards that the winners received ranged from $5,000 to High Definition cameras to Harley’s Rider’s Edge riding courses to Genuine H-D leather jackets, but my guess is that the best reward of all for these ladies is the opportunity to have created something truly unique—to have been able to express in a very artistic way just how powerful this aspect of our little subculture is.

In her book Hear Me Roar: Women, Motorcycles and the Rapture of the Road, Ann Ferrar says: “Today’s motorcycling women come from a long line of mavericks who thumbed their noses at convention, hitched up their Victorian skirts, and shocked society by riding bicycles. To ride ‘the wheel,’ women dumped their corsets and curfews. They reveled in mobility—and the freedom that comes with it.”

Harley-Davidson’s “Bikes, Camera, Action!” contest proved that the long line of those female “mavericks” is getting even longer—and stronger.

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