"Out of Nothing," a documentary in the works about motorcycle land speed racing, features a heavy dose of Whatcom County, both on the screen and behind the cameras.
So it's fitting that one the county's most recognizable residents, comedian Ryan Stiles, is the face of an online appeal for donations to help finance the film's finishing touches.
Stiles, one of the documentary's producers, became involved with the project at the urging of fellow producer Andrew Lahmann of Bellingham, who had worked with Stiles on a pilot TV show.
"It took about 10 minutes for him to say 'yes,'" Lahmann recalled, "and he doesn't do that lightly."
Stiles' new public pitch on Kickstarter seeks at least $50,000 in donations.
"Out of Nothing" follows four motorcycle fanatics - brothers Mark and Carl Bjorklund of Bellingham, Jason Omer of Ferndale and Bill Woods of Shoreline - as they travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats to participate in the annual BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, where racers hope to set speed records in various categories.
When they're not going at breakneck speeds across the groomed salt pan in Utah, the four racers are busy back home at their regular jobs and working on their own bikes in their spare time.
"It's not just a gearhead movie," said Chad DeRosa of Bellingham, the film's director. "They are everyday people."
Stiles already knew the Bjorklunds because they built a motorcycle for one of his benefit auctions for the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. Stiles, who owned a motorcycle years ago but doesn't ride one now, ended up submitting the high bid and giving it back to the brothers.
"I was too fearful of it," Stiles said.
Lahmann, who had no particular interest in motorcycle racing, said he became involved because the story appeals to more than just fans who want to watch racers build their "dream machines."
"It's about the hard work that goes into following a dream," he said. "When I saw this story, that's what I grabbed onto."
MOVIE IDEA GREW
The genesis of the movie began several years ago when Omer, who had been to Bonneville several times, urged the Bjorklund brothers to race there. They agreed and asked DeRosa, a longtime BMX and motocross racer with video and photography skills, to accompany them, camera in hand, on their first trip in 2011.
For serious racers at Bonneville, it involves much more than just showing up. It involves months of designing and building special motorcycles with speed records in mind.
"They build these things out of nothing," DeRosa said. "That's where the name of the film comes from."
"Out of Nothing" also could describe the film's development. DeRosa came back from the 2011 trip with some 50 hours of footage, but no script and no upfront fundraising. But he knew he had a great story by the tail, so he turned to Lahmann for help.
Lahmann, who concocted a degree in film studies while at Western Washington University, had already won early notice for "An Honorable Calling," his short documentary about the spending habits of Civil War re-enactors. After college, he held a low-level job on the first "Iron Man" movie before returning to Bellingham to start a film production company with college friend Colin Dalvit.
Lahmann fell in love with the motorcycle project, too. He brought in a local production team to work on it, stitched together a teaser trailer to promote it, and encouraged Stiles to jump in.
The crew went back to the speed trials last year for more racing and filming, and plan to return in late August to shoot a bit more footage. They also plan to show a rough cut of the film while there, reserving the formal premier for Bellingham once the film is finished, likely in October.
So far, their effort has been privately funded. They're going through Kickstarter for extra money, Lahmann said, to ensure the movie has production values worthy of big-screen theater showings.
That's when Stiles' industry connections can help with marketing and distribution. He's happy to be of assistance, he said, because the movie ultimately is about people, not just the machines they race.
"Every scene makes you feel a different way," Stiles said. "Whose dreams are fulfilled, and whose aren't."
For the official site for "Out of Nothing," .
For Kickstarter donation campaigns, go to kickstarter.com.
WATCH THE TRAILER
Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-2291 or email@example.com.