Videos Writing

“Keep Rolling,” and Embrace the Unknown

With the help of Vahna, La Clef, and a myriad of co-conspirators, Alan Perreard wields his visual storytelling abilities with vigor, inviting us to complete his story for him. A welcome entry to open-ended filmmaking engulfed by the information age.

The biggest news to hit the motocross world this week involved a 17 year-old Canadian kid attempting to claim the motorcycle of social-media wunderkind Haiden “DangerBoy” Deegan, the red hot Star Racing Yamaha amateur prospect, son to Metal Mulisha’s Brian. A claim that was eventually rescinded under supposed threats from the various opposing teams. The events as they transpired became a spectacle steeped in drama, conjecture run amuck via FaceTime retellings of events behind closed doors in hushed tones. Involved were not only the two parties, but the body that sanctions these very races, the American Motorcycle Association, the promoters who put it on, MX Sports, some folks that train the competitors, Moto X Compound, and even, depending on who you talk to, the United States’ division of the Yamaha Corporation.

To digital onlookers, this was a whopper from the get-go. A top-to-bottom conspiracy. A situation that seeped into every crevice of the very sport they held dear. A debacle so disturbing that, as of this writing, it’s still being debated and very much on the mind’s of keyboard warriors everywhere. Immediately, there were calls for certain individual’s heads. Accusations of lying and manipulation on both sides of the argument. Powerless pledges to never purchase a Yamaha product again were the most popular form of response. Even still, for the powers that be, there would be no running from this storm. The masses made clear that they demanded answers, even if, truly, there was no one who could provide them.

Every inch of the situation, from its handling by the parties involved, to the subsequent fallout and angry-mob response of the motocross community at large, is essentially the worst parts of motorcycles and racing all rolled into one. It’s the type of shit that makes you want to pack up your belongings and move on, never to be associated with this behavior ever again.

It’s a shame to contextualize Alan’s piece against a TMZ-level amateur meltdown story, but it’s the state in which we live at the moment. Genuine drama is one of the few things that still manages to effectively move the needle these days, and in light of the ever-accelerating rate at which images are hurled at our retinas, I am convinced there is no overcoming the trend at this point. We’ve passed the event horizon of human consumption, where we are now receiving information at such a rate, that when we are not gifted the complete picture upon arrival, we resort to anger and violence. There is no room for thought, there is only knowing. To simply not know is not an option, and that is prime real-estate for the banality that has become human opinion to break ground and begin building into… well, nothing. Nothing of substance, at least. Where people talk just to talk, to clear the room of empty air because silence implies a lack of understanding – not knowing. A terrifying concept to those who claim they know it all.

Still from Keep Rolling.

Perhaps my favorite part of Keep Rolling, Alan Perreard’s latest masterful work, is that it leans heavily on this very notion of not knowing. Of subtracting information and context to better serve his overall narrative and filmmaking style. Using only what he needs, and leaving the viewer to complete his story for him.

Off the bat, I will tell you that the near 19-minute film features minimal to no dialogue throughout. Perreard forgoes interviews, narration, soundbytes, and virtually any other sonics (sans soundtrack) to guide the viewer along his winding path. Text prompts let the viewer know which chapter of the film they are in, as well as where they are at geographically. The rest is up to you.

As much as I wanted to hear from the character’s in Perreard’s film and learn who they were, as the minutes clicked by this desire began to fade. Instead of yearning for that information, Perreard’s rich visuals encouraged me to let go of that curiosity, to the point where it instead felt like I was watching a film about myself and my friends. The faces he chose to keep nameless became a vessel for a different kind of documentary experience, one that aims not to dictate a story, but instill a desire for the viewer to create their own. The technique and ambition required to pull off such a feat is commendable, cementing Perreard’s favorable position amongst his contemporaries in motorcycle filmmaking.

Of course, indicative here and in Perreard’s previous work is his impeccable music selection, which carries the film in its own regard, providing that oh-so coveted and intangible “it” factor many hopeful auteurs chase aimlessly. Chapter 3 in particular, set to Current Joys’ “These Times Will Never Change,” lifts the viewer out of whatever hellscape they’ve inherited and drops them into the world made by Perreard and his confidants, where they explore the French countryside on vintage enduro machines. In the audiovisual pairing, it is suggested that we need to forget about the ways in which the common world works, and that simply waiting for things to evolve is an irrefutable waste of time. It’s a beautiful sequence that touches on the universal spirit of freedom, where the unknown is not something to be fearful of, but to be welcomed and ultimately pursued. A large concept accomplished by exceptional minimalist filmmaking.

I want to keep it brief and allow you ample time to watch Perreard’s new film, before the next thing is clamoring for your attention. I also want to congratulate Alan, his friends involved, the companies who backed it, and to thank them all for providing a space with their new project to think about why we enjoy riding.

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