The Road to Paloma Movie Bike (Interview with Jason Momoa)
“I’ve had that bike since I was nineteen, it’s the first thing I ever bought.” ~Jason Momoa
I recently had a chance to sit down with Jason Momoa (director, co-writer, lead actor of “ Road to Paloma”) for a couple minutes and ask him about his inspiration for the story and get some specifics on the cool custom bike he rode in the film.
Zack Coffman: What was the inspiration for the film? How did it come together?
Jason Momoa: I wanted to make a road movie for a long time, but it isn’t easy. You need to meander in the film, but it has to have a story or you’re just jacking off, you know? I love Five Easy Pieces, Jack Kerouac [On the Road], and Easy Rider of course, but it’s kind of for a different generation. Co-writer and co-star Robert [Homer Mollohan] and I are both into bikes and he told me about the injustices happening on the reservations and it opened up a whole world. I couldn’t believe all this was happening in our country. That gave my character some purpose. We wanted to make a road movie about a man saying goodbye to his life.
Our company Pride of Gypsies is just a group of friends - talented artists and directors, we made the movie with seven guys - it’s kind of like building a bike. I like keeping people around me that I love and trust, and we hopefully can all raise each other to the next level. We lived in the dirt and shot the whole film on a Canon 5D [digital camera].
ZC: Seemed like some of the shots had a real Terrence Malick feel.
JM: He was a huge inspiration for the visuals of the film. It’s a great feeling to trust someone like that [Brian Mendoza] to shoot it with the same artistic sense. I would just pack the scene with the background and feel I wanted and I knew he would get the shot.
ZC: Where’d you shoot it?
JM: Five states - Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Nevada. We shot with the Aha Macav [Mojave] out of Needles, CA. I loved featuring all the real native peoples in the film.
ZC: What about the bike?
JM: I had it since I was nineteen, bought it in Hawaii on Oahu. It was more stock than now, not fully stock, but was like a Knuckle Pan - with big fenders and a four gallon tank.
I heard about Love Cycles [in Phoenix, AZ] and called Jeremiah, told him about the movie and he was like “My newborn daughter is named Paloma, wow.” So we met up and camped out at his place while he did the work. I wanted it to really represent my character [Wolf] and be streamlined and look like it’s held together with duck tape.
ZC: So what’s on it?
JM: She’s a ‘56 pan with a ‘48 springer front end. I named her "Mabel” for my grandmother.
She’s got a Model “A” back fender,
Buick tail light,
Vintage cop’s light on front,
Jockey tape grips,
Open primary and open belt drive,
Suicide shift - my first time riding one, so that was interesting.
No front brake, rear drum,
The seat is from an old piece of leather I had.
ZC: The scene when you’re working on the bike is great, but did you really start it with your hand?
JM: [Laughs] I didn’t think it would, but when it did I looked at my cameraman and was like, “Fuck yeah.”
ZC: Wow, must have been tuned great.
JM: Yeah, it was.
ZC: Tell me more about the film, what inspired it?
JM: I wanted to make a film about what would happen if someone did that to your mother... you would just take care of it, you know? I mean, do what you want, but you better not touch my family, right? So my character [Wolf] has been on the run for six months and he’s just saying goodbye. What do you leave in the world when you’re gone?
One more thing. People keep giving me shit about one funny thing - riding with no glasses in the movie. The problem is if you wear glasses on film you need to remove the the cameraman reflection digitally and it’s really expensive. So we tried this anti-glare spray, but I was basically riding blind and almost got into some accidents. We didn’t have the money or the time to worry about it and I just finally said, “OK, I’m a bandit and it’s a movie.” Haha. But tell everyone, yes I do wear glasses when I ride normally.
ROAD TO PALOMA is the beautiful journey of two bikers traveling across America's vast west. While Native American Wolf (Jason Momoa) is being pursued by the FBI for having taken the law into his own hands, when his mother was raped and killed on their reservation he crosses paths with Cash (Robert Mollohan), a down and out musician who is coping with the end of his marriage. An unlikely friendship develops, as they ride together towards the Teton mountain range, where Wolf will spread his mothers ashes.
ROAD TO PALOMA stars Jason Momoa, Robert Homer Mollohan, Lisa Bonet, Sarah Shahi, Michael Raymond-James, Chris Browning, Timothy V. Murphy, and Wes Studi. Directed by Jason Momoa.Watch the full movie now at http://bit.ly/RTPiTunes