A Cinematic Love Letter to Riding a Bike Through Mexico City

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Dos Ciclos, or Two Cycles, captures the dynamic energy of Mexico City, weaving through traffic with a cyclist as he describes why it makes him happy. The film was directed by Rodrigo de la Mora and Darío López Ortega, also known as the Panchits, at the production company Sake Group, featuring Oscar Espinosa as the rider. The directors talk about the production process and screening the film at the Bicycle Film Festival in New York and Los Angeles in an interview below. 

The Atlantic: What was the inspiration for the film?

Rodrigo de la Mora and Darío López Ortega: It began by just wanting to tell a story about a guy who loves to ride his bike, in a lyrical form. Then, thanks to our Executive Producer Martín López (whom we have to thank for spreading the love for bicycles here at Sake), we got to meet the rider, Oscar Espinosa.  We told him about wanting to make a short film about riding; he loved the idea and we went with it.

The story is a conjunction of many things: the feeling of riding a bicycle, the stress that drivers get when stuck in traffic for hours (and we all know what it’s like here), and in some way, trying to make a difference in people's minds, a social awareness so to speak. We wanted to tell this story in a documentary kind of way. So we had the script we wrote, read by Oscar, so he could make the film a lot more real by adding details specific to the character, where he lives, his house, his shortcuts. This made Dos Ciclos a lot more personal than it already was. 

At the end we loved the final cut, with great music by Panoptica Orchestra, and great audio design by Catapulta Studios.

How did you shoot the biking footage in traffic?

That would have to be thanks to the traffic jam we see every day in Mexico City. There used to be certain moments of the day were the cars don't move at all for minutes, standing on the same avenue or street for hours even. These moments don't exist anymore, but there is always traffic, frustration, dirt and noise, at any time of day. This helped us a lot actually, because we were able to stand in the middle of the lanes and get the shots we wanted.

Also the shots where we follow the biker around, and those amazing long shots, were possible thanks to wonderful camera work by Xavi Jose, an amazing cinematographer. We learned a lot from him. We shot this on a Canon 7D and a 550D. Also, we all had to improve our driving skills, if we wanted to keep up with the rider.

How was the film received at the Bicycle Film Festival?

Quite well, actually. It was the first Mexican short film to be selected by the festival. We found out about the news when BFF's founder/director, Brendt Barbur, called us to congratulate and tell us that the film was in their selection. We where so happy about it, and he invited us to go to New York City for the premiere. The production team (except for the directors, unfortunately) went over there and had a great time (here is the story if you like). Now it's been screened all over the world thanks to BFF, and we couldn't be happier about everyone seeing our little story.

We got the opportunity to be in BFF's Los Angeles festival. We had a great time with Brendt and the producers, being at the screening and seeing how people connected to the film. It's quite amazing when you see your work in a completely different place, country, and social environment, and somehow it still transmits the same feeling to most of the people who watch Dos Ciclos: being happy.

What's next for you?

We are working, here at Sake, on two short films: one is intended again for the Bicycle Film Festival, and the other one is for the love of art, a script that was written some months ago. We're also working with advertising agencies such as Cheil Mexico and KP Alazraki on some internet videos, virals, etc. We have a plan to film videos for international bands. Of course we are available for hire to make, film, write or think of videos with creative content. We could go to any part of the world, if the job requires it. We'd love to be out there doing what we love!

For more work by the Panchits and Sake Group, visit http://www.sakegroup.com/.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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