Krystian Morgan's blog featuring motion graphics, short film experiments and feature film.

By Krystian Oct.5.2009
In: Blog, interview

An Interview with Mike Ambs pt.2

What would you say is the biggest thing you learnt from the whole production process?

That this *is* what I love doing. That I’m happiest when telling stories. There’s never been a moment when I’ve considered giving up on Pedal. And maybe that doesn’t sound like much a “learning experience”, but for me it was really a question that was always in the back of mind: is all this work going to pay off… is this going to be something I really want to do? Being able to say “yes, without a doubt”, after all these years, is a great feeling.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently, (had something, could be a piece of equipment or a shot you missed etc…)?

There’s always the shot I wish I’d gotten or the camera that might have looked just a little bit better – but really nothing jumps out. That’s not to say I haven’t made thousands of mistakes while working on this film… but each mistake was something to learn from, and I need to keep that in mind when thinking about the times I’ve felt naive or unprepared.

What advice do you have for other documentary filmmakers and filmmakers in general who want to follow in your footsteps and independently create they’re own large-scale film project?

[laughing] I’m not so sure I’d recommend anyone following in my footsteps – but ignoring that, my advice is always:

1) Share everything possible (of course).

2) Be patient, there are much faster ways of making a film that the road Amanda and I have taken, but that road comes with a lot of baggage and compromise. Going the independent route is a slow… terribly slow process. But at the end of it, you will be able to say you made exactly the film you wanted to make.

3) Make as much supporting material as you can stomach… between the first 5 episodes, and our 64 Days series, we have learned so much – and more importantly, we have made countless mistakes that we can now avoid in the finished film. Every bit of feedback and criticism we’ve received is applied towards the film where possible.

4) If making films is not something you want to do *every* single day… If it’s not something you love doing, even at it’s worst, then it’s not for you. Eric Simonson gave me that advice once, and I’m glad he did. Even when things aren’t going as planned, I remind myself that I wouldn’t rather be working on anything else, and it helps focus me.

How would you ideally want a viewer of ‘For Thousands of Miles’ to react when they see the film?

We want the film to shake something awake in people – we want it to inspire, and chip away at the limitations we set on themselves.

To be honest, For Thousands of Miles has very little to do with riding a bike – I think the people who will enjoy it most won’t necessarily be bike-enthusiast, but anyone who has ever wanted to take an adventure and put it off… anyone who has ever wanted to write a book and never got around to it… anyone who has ever felt weak and stuck in their life. Those are the people are trying to reach.

For Thousands of Miles - Tapes

What are the future hopes for ‘For Thousands of Miles’, regarding festivals and distribution?

When FToM is ready for release, we’ll most likely submit to 3 or 4 major festivals: SXSW, Sundance, Ann Arbor, etc – and regardless of our acceptance or rejection, we’ll then release the feature length film online for free. I’ve been keeping an eye on Nina Paley’s distribution method and I’ve been really excited / relieved that it’s working so well. Her model is fairly simple: the content (film) is free, the containers (DVDs) are sold. The creative commons attribution she’s wrapped the film in has allowed her to leave it online at all times, while also continuing to share her film in theaters, and even partner with conventional distributors.

We have no real disillusions about making returns on our investments – or being the next sleeper-hit. We just want people to see it, we want them to be moved by it, we want them to pass it on to someone else. FToM is just going to be something we can look back on and be proud of.

You have alot of behind the scenes content on do you plan on referring the future DVD owners of ‘For Thousands of Miles’ to discover the site and have a whole new experience of what went into what the have on their tv screens, or are you panning a slew of supplementary extras on the ?-disk set special edition dvd of all that content?

We’d like to do a bit of both – we plan on selling the film on it’s own DVD, and the 64 Days series on their own DVDs, for people who really just one and not the other. But our main DVD set will contain both the film and the making of the film. Our plan is to cram as much as we can into the DVD package – make it as fun and immersive as we possibly can. Especially considering the film *and* 64 Days will all be watchable online, we’ll need to be extra creative to have people wanting a physical copy.

But in any case, there are a lot of things that just won’t make it onto disc, and for those things we’ll do our best to draw people’s attention back to the site. And hopefully a lot of new people can get involved in the community and even the next film after Pedal.

Has working on the film been as hard as you’d imagine it would be?

Yes, and then some. The first blog post I ever wrote on our production blog ended with this,

“So stay tuned, and you’ll have front row seats to the long and painful process of independent filmmaking… before this ends I’ll have been turned down, shut out, knocked out of the race, dragged through the mud, riding on the edge of disaster, against all odds, between a rock and hard place… and that’s just preproduction. Strangely enough… I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Which cracks me up to read now, but it has been one challenge after another. I’ve had to push myself every day, some days harder than most, somedays digging slightly deeper than I’ve had to dig before. We’ve had financial issues we’ve had logistical issues, we’ve had legal issues… personal issues… on and on. And they show no signs of letting up before this film is finished.

Mike Ambs

I know you’re not at the end of your production yet, but as things have been going so far, would you think you would do something like this again? (create another independent film).

Without a doubt. I can’t wait for the next challenging project.

>>Missed Part 1?

Don’t worry, click here to catch-up.

Keep up to date on the film at and don’t forget to donate to the kickstarter campaign.

  • Krystian 🙂 I just wanted to say thanks so much for putting so much work into this interview post. I had a lot of fun doing this!

  • neat!