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About the motorcycle movie Choppertown the Sinners

Posted by Zack Coffman on Feb 12th 2014

The Making Of Choppertown: the Sinners

As far back as 1998 we had been discussing ideas for a bike film, even before we started One World Studios in 2001. We knew motorcycles were going to come back in. I’ve always loved them and built my first chopper (a ’72 Sporty) before I could even legally drink.

Scott DiLalla's 72 Harley Sportster

There was just too long of a period since Easy Rider and On Any Sunday. The world was ready for a solid bike film, so Zack and I wrote a script about a fictional group of bikers called “Lords of Gravity” and started shopping it around. Right at that time Biker Boyz and Torque came out and got panned, so suddenly Hollywood developed a knee-jerk aversion to anything dealing with bikes. Our feeling was that a bike film that could express the true spirit of motorcycling would have a real shot at capturing people’s hearts and minds. When choppers broke into the spotlight on TV, we knew it was time to buckle down and get moving. I couldn’t relate to a $100,000 show bike that never sees over a mile of road. I wanted to make a film about the regular Joe building a bike in his back yard. Built to ride.”

Kutty Noteboom from The Horse Magazine used by permission of Lil C

“We were flipping through a new issue of The Horse magazine and there was a feature about this guy Kutty and the Sinners. He was a young guy, but everything about him was old school; his chopper, his style, even the grease in his hair. We got to thinking, this seems like a cool bunch of guys with something to say about the true spirit of motorcycling and we knew we had our film. It was nearly impossible to find them though because they are so underground. It’s not like we could just dial 1-800-Sinners. But luckily Kutty was wearing a Salinas Boys t-shirt so we looked them up and Zack called up Cole [Foster]. They really hit it off and talked for about two hours and Cole gave us Kutty’s number. Before we could call him though, we got a call from Rico. His first words were, “I’m Rico and nothing happens with the Sinners without my say-so.” We said “right on” and set up a meeting with Rico and Kutty for some beers. It was like finding lost brothers and within two weeks we were shooting.” ~Filmmaker Scott Di Lalla

Scott and I had been working in various capacities in the film industry for several years before setting up One World Studios. I was a film buyer for Korea for several years and lived out there and had a chance to get into physical production on a couple of Korean films in addition to attending all the markets; Cannes, AFM, and the like. Scott was working in New York as an editor’s assistant and then he came out and lived in Korea for a while to work on television. When we set up One World we knew that we needed an exciting project to separate us from the pack and give us a chance to be creative, but that had a chance to break out and appeal to a wider sensibility. We worked on putting together some Korean remakes and also did some script writing. We got close on all accounts, but it always seemed like a piece was missing from the puzzle. Hollywood is a tough place and everyone is paid to say “no”. We’re not guys who accept negativity and we kept plugging away with our projects and working our part-time jobs to make ends meet. Finally we just told ourselves that we didn’t need permission from anybody to make a film and just green-lighted Choppertown ourselves. It was scary to take the plunge, but I guess we’ve always had confidence in ourselves and each other.

An old college buddy of ours [Armando Koghan] was attending AFI for cinematography and we asked him to come on board. We got a hold of soundman Anthony [Pardines] through Craigslist and our crew was set.

The first night’s shoot was great, we got some excellent footage and were feeling confident that things were going as planned. Then two weeks later, things got hairy because Armando became swamped with his school responsibilities and we had to either put the film on hold or find a replacement...” ~Filmmaker Zack Coffman

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choppertown-sinners-bikes.jpg

That’s when friend, veteran stuntman, Michael Baron came to the rescue. Michael had met Scott at the doctor’s office where Scott was working for another friend, Philip Gabriel’s father. Michael was recovering from a stunt accident and he and Scott became friends through their love of film. Michael admired Scott and Zack’s passion and willingness to work multiple part-time jobs and live such an austere lifestyle while pursuing their dream of filmmaking. He had recently purchased a couple of Canon XL-1 digital cameras for his company and lent one to Scott and Zack along with some excellent Sennheiser sound equipment. Says Michael of his generosity, “I love those guys. They got heart and I wanted to see what they could do. It was a small thing for me to lend them a camera, I was happy to do it.”

So while Scott practiced with the camera, Zack read the entire manual for Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing software. “It was a pretty good read, especially with the task of editing an entire film looming on the horizon,” recalls Zack. “We had gone and maxed out our plastic to get a complete G5 editing system from the Apple store across the street. It was absolutely beautiful and after we set it up we kind of looked at each other and said, “Now what?”

The Sinners at the Sony Pictures Choppertown premiere (by Jay Kotaka)

While continuing to work their part-time jobs, Scott and Zack made weekly trips out to Rico’s and Kutty’s and even all the way up to northern California to see the Sinner Nomads. “It was amazing how it all came together,” Zack reflects. “Watching the bike come together and all the effort and love given by all the guys to help Kutty was the best part. The joy of wrenching on your bike and drinking beers with your bros; I think it’s a concept anyone can understand, even if they don’t own a bike.”

Says Scott, “It was so great traveling all over such a beautiful state, making a true motorcycle movie and making close friends in the process.

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Cast


KUTTY NOTEBOOM, named after a bottle of Scotch, Kutty is the son of renowned custom car builder Jim “Bones” Noteboom. Even though his job as a foreman for his family’s construction business keeps him busy, he still finds time to build bikes that have a unique “Kuttyness” to them; as Kutty puts it “they look old, but they’re new.” A loving family man, Kutty looks forward to sharing his love of the old school with his two-year old son, Kyler. Kutty is also known for being lead guitarist in Rockabilly-punk band, The Whitewalls, several of whose songs are featured in Choppertown.

RICO FODREY, known as Father Fury by his fellow Sinners, is the nucleus and emotional center of the Sinners. One of the original founding members, he is a true enigma; always proving that looks can be deceiving. A gifted mechanic, among other things, Rico has also traveled the world as roadie and soundman for some of the most famous (and infamous) rock bands. His shop serves as the hub for all things Sinner, including the building of Kutty’s bike in “Choppertown”. He’s always quick to remind everyone, “We’re just a bunch of guys wearing the same shirts.”

JAMES INTVELD, composer, actor, director, and crooner extraordinaire, is also a founding member of the Sinners. As Rico tells it, “The Sinners pretty much started in Jimmy’s basement, hangin’ out at his house.” A member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, James has a huge following for his uniquely styled country/rock and roll. In the film, while taking a break from his busy touring schedule, James shows up at Rico’s shop to lend a hand with Kutty’s bike. The self-proclaimed “Overseer”, James helps wrench with the guys before heading off to perform a gig that night. Several of James’ haunting melodies such as “Remember Me” and “A Sinner’s Prayer” provide much of the musical backdrop for Choppertown.


COLE FOSTER, founder of Salinas Boys, is known worldwide as a master fabricator of hot rods and bikes and has been featured in countless magazines and on The Biker Build Off. Long-time friend of Rico, Cole heads up the Nor Cal contingent of the Sinners known as the Nomads. Having someone like Cole put his hands on Kutty’s bike was a dream come true and Cole (with the help of his trusty and talented workmate Thomas “The Norwegian”) creates an amazing gas tank for Kutty while taking a break from building a fantastic custom coupe for Metallica’s Kirk Hammett. Cole also has the best hair in all of Kustomdom.

JASON JESSEE, it is hard to mention Jason Jessee without using words like “insane” “koo-koo” and “wacko”, but there is an underlying genius behind Jason’s antics that becomes apparent with his gift of the “Baby Tank” to Kutty. Hidden under layers of spray paint and the remains of plastic doll parts is a solid classic Harley gas tank that Kutty accepts graciously, if not gingerly, from his Sinner compatriot. A superstar of the pro-skateboarding world, Jason welcomes Rico and Kutty into his skating and chopper museum/shop, Automodown. Over the course of one amazing day, Kutty is birthed a gas tank, presented with a kimono, treated to incredible skating, exposed to random gunfire, given a private concert by shop band The Highway Murderers and shown a demonstration of “The Distracter”. Hi-bond Man makes an appearance as well…

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Choppertown the Sinners movie

click here to download the movie now


Synopsis

Choppertown is the world’s first documentary about the renowned hot rod and motorcycle club, the Sinners. Modern day greasers, the Sinners are all about the old school. None of them is old enough to have experienced the hot rod heydays of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but still they live on the edge of society chopping cars and bikes and searching for vintage parts to make their “Rat Rods”, “Trumps”, “Mercs”, and “Bobbers” into rolling works of art.

In the opening of the film, we are introduced to Sinner Kutty Noteboom as he arrives at fellow Sinner Rico’s shop with a beat up old bike frame in the trunk of his ’54 Chevy. Rico, the resident master of all things motorcycle, has a good look at the frame and proclaims it “a good piece, a good start.”

With that, the process (and the adventure) begins. Several more Sinners arrive at the shop to have some beers and help out with Kutty’s bike and they work into the evening swapping stories and wrenching on the bike.

The film takes Rico and Kutty on a voyage to Orange, CA where their friend Jimmy White helps them fabricate a mean set of pipes for Kutty’s rapidly evolving chopper.

From there they head up north to Salinas, on the anniversary of James Dean’s demise, right through the same intersection where the young star met his fate, ironically, while he was also traveling to Salinas.

Once there all hell breaks loose as they venture into Automodown with Jason Jessee, the Sinner Nomad ex-pro skater turned chopper-builder. Kutty is given a comical and macabre “Baby Tank” as a gift and he knows he’ll need to use his imagination to figure out what to do with it.

Sinner Nomad Cole Foster’s place is just up the road so they pay him a visit and entreat him to put his hands on the bike by creating a beautiful hand-made tank from the Baby Tank’s underpinnings.

Back in Southern California, Kutty’s bike is completed and his Sinner brothers are there to watch him kick it over. It takes a few tries, but when the bike starts the emotion is real. With tears welling in his eyes, Rico watches the guys celebrate the sweet sound of Kutty’s chopper as it revs and purrs, asking to be taken out and cut loose.

As Kutty finally joins the pack, we feel what it is to be free on the road, troubles left behind. The sound of your brothers’ bikes filling your ears, a glint of pride in your eyes.

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Press Quotes


"Forget the so-called 'reality' chopper shows on TV. This is the real thing--real bikers building real machines that actually get ridden. Choppertown is tough, gritty and honest, just like the people it portrays." -David Edwards, Editor-in-Chief, Cycle World

“Quite simply the best documentary ever made about custom bikes.” -Editor, Back Street Heroes

“KICK-ASS! An inspirational reflection on today’s true chopper heroes.” -Sean “XsSpeed” Sweeny, Associate Editor, The Horse Backstreet Choppers

“Through impressive editing and documentary narrative, Di Lalla and Coffman craft a rich and entertaining story. Any fan of custom motorcycles, documentaries or anyone who always wanted to explain to their loved ones exactly what it means to be a gear-head owes it to themselves to check out the movie. Choppertown: the Sinners is an excellent look at motorcycle culture and the only one to tackle the relationships between a group of friends and their love of the machines they create.” -Jonathan Leigh, EyeCraveDVD.com

“I particularly enjoyed the picture because it was focused on building inexpensive choppers, not the $100,000 crap that you see on TV. The guys’ bikes are built to ride. Some of the members of the Sinners include Cole Foster of the Salinas Boys, and rocker James Intveld. Ultimately, this is a film about brotherhood, heart and a love of motorcycling." -Kit Maira, News Editor, Biker Magazine

"Choppertown is up there with the giants as a potentially life-changing classic.” -Andy Hornsby, Editor, American V-twin Magazine

“Choppertown: the Sinners presents a brief glimpse into a cultural phenomenon that has managed to survive more than half a century in an underground state, but is enjoying the light of day with the energy of the youth who celebrate it.” -Wendell Perry, West Coast Editor, Thunder Press

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Film Festivals and Awards

WINNER - BEST DOCUMENTARY

TEMECULA VALLEY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER - BEST DOCUMENTARY

HOLLYWOOD DV FESTIVAL

WINNER – BEST MUSIC

PARK CITY FILM MUSIC FESTIVAL

OFFICIAL SELECTION

WESTWOOD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

OFFICIAL SELECTION

PACIFIC PALISADES FILM FESTIVAL

OFFICIAL SELECTION

CINEMERGE FILM FESTIVAL

SPECIAL INVITEE

STARZ FILM CENTER, DENVER FILM SOCIETY

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Choppertown: the Music


Remember Me
Written by James Intveld and John Coinman
Performed by James Intveld
Molenaart 2001

We Gotta Boogie
Written and performed by James Intveld
Swing Sinners 1997

Stay
Written and performed by The Whitewalls
2004

One Sweet Letter
Written by Joe Liggins
Performed by James Intveld
Molenaart 2001

Hell’s Kitchen
Written and performed by The Whitewalls
2005

I Woke Up Early the Day I Died
Written and performed by The Whitewalls
2005

Bring the Hammer Down
Written and performed by The Highway Murderers
2004

New Monia
Written and performed by The Highway Murderers
2004

A Sinner’s Prayer
Written and performed by James Intveld
Molenaart 2001

* * *


Credits


Crew

Written, produced and directed by:
Scott Di Lalla
Zack Coffman

Cinematography by:
Scott Di Lalla
Armando Koghan
Zack Coffman

Editing and sound design by:
Zack Coffman
Scott Di Lalla

Executive Producer:
Michael Lee Baron

Sound recordist:
Anthony Pardines

Legal:
Martin Perlberger

Production accountant:
Arthur Di Lalla

Production assistant:
Nick Corrado

Friends and Family

Jamie and Kyler Noteboom
Kelli Brandt
Susan Church
Thomas Torjesen

The Sinners

(In order of appearance)

Rico Fodrey
Kutty Noteboom
Rob Fortier
Danny Takahashi
Dustin Hiniker
Eric Webb
Gary Frye
James Intveld
Jimmy White
Jason Jessee
Brandon Casquilho
Cole Foster
Job Stevens
Noah Jordan
Denver Dan
Dave Park
Chopper Dave
Nelson Kano
Josh Harris
Jorge Galindo
Ben Rex
Mike Diaz
Jason Birdwell

The Whitewalls
Dustin Leonard
Tony Brooks
Justin Goodnew
Dave Mercer
Tito Mora
Kutty Noteboom

The Highway Murderers
Mobbie Murderer
Joe King
Ry Murderer (RIP)
Aron Lucifer


The Producers wish to thank

The Coffman and Di Lalla families
The Gabriel Family
Ben Webster
Dickies
Black Flys
All Sinners past and present

* * *

Choppertown: the Sinners

A documentary film by Scott Di Lalla & Zack Coffman

click here to download the movie now

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