"Bro" -- the long-awaited indie film featuring Metal Mulisha riders Beau Manley and Colin "Scummy" Morrison -- finally gets its world premiere Friday at the AMC Orange 30 in Orange, Calif., nearly two years to the day after the first news of the project was reported.
"The thing I'm most looking forward to about the premiere is not being asked when the movie comes out anymore," Manley jokes. "I've been asked that question every day since we started filming, and that was two years ago."
Manley and Morrison play Jesse and Rudy, dubious mentors to actor Will Chavez's character, Johnny, as he gets his first taste of freestyle motocross and the darker sides of its rock and roll lifestyle. All three characters ultimately get caught up in the California drug trade.
"I hope people take it as entertainment and can enjoy it for what it is: People in motocross tend to take things way too serious and act like the fate of the universe depends on how the motocross lifestyle is portrayed, which is just ludicrous," says Manley, who hopes the role leads to other acting opportunities. "For me it was a lot of fun to make. Being a moto guy, normally when I show up for a job it's life threatening and there's a lot of pressure and stress. So going and making a movie? That's nothing. If you mess up you can shoot it 50 times or 100 times until you get it right."
First-time director Nick Parada co-wrote the script along with Kim Mackenzie. Much of the motocross action in the film was shot at Pala Raceway in Pala, Calif.
"It's a film about a kid who gets caught up in a lifestyle that is interesting to him on the surface but has a lot more going on beneath the surface than he realizes or wants to be a part of," Parada says. "We're getting some people asking, 'Hey, why are you mixing up drugs and gangs and FMX in your story?' It's fiction, but once I started doing research and talking with guys like Beau Manley and Scummy they all told me, 'A lot of this is actually not far from the truth.' A lot of these guys we look up to in FMX have pasts, they have hard or troubled times they're not proud of within that party lifestyle happening at the edge of their sport, and some of them end up addicted to painkillers and other drugs after everything they go through on their bikes. The kid in the film sees this lifestyle that looks like everything he's ever wanted, but once he's in and gets some bruises along the way he realizes it maybe isn't the best thing, that things don't always work out how you imagined."
Manley says some of the film's sex, drugs, and FMX storyline ended up playing out in real life, on set: "Scummy was loaded the whole time -- he was wasted, literally the whole time -- so we definitely brought some real-life elements to the set."
"The thing is I didn't have to act whatsoever for this movie," admits Morrison, one of the original members of the Metal Mulisha FMX team. "I play the party guy, the guy who gets in trouble. For this movie I just had to be myself. This film focuses on the bros in the industry and it's all pretty realistic. FMX has simmered down some and sold out a bit over the years, but its roots are pretty gnarly, and the message in the movie is true, too: That lifestyle never ends well for anybody."
Morrison spent a stint in rehab after shooting "Bro'" and says he's now sober. But, like Chavez's character in the movie, he had to learn his lessons the hard way.
"I probably should have gone to rehab before the movie," he acknowledges, while adding he has no regrets as he looks back on his life and career. "Once you become pro everything gets thrown at you so quick: money, drugs, girls, traveling, broken bones, eating pain pills. You've got to be on your toes or it all gets away from you. This movie's kind of like my own life, in that way. I got to travel the world as a pro and it was pure rock and roll, like I imagine it was for Mötley Crüe back in the day, but 10 years of that catches up with you.
"When I'd go out I'd get gnarly, blasting coke off chicks and going full-blown, but it got to a point where I became an addict, and it ----ed up my riding and my life. That's a rock and roll moment right there, too, when you figure out that the party's over, that you're going too big and screwing your life up and, you know, basically committing suicide. Going to rehab was the coolest thing I've ever done in my life and it completely changed my life around, but I don't take nothing back. It was rock and roll and it's a very fast lifestyle. Now it's still rock and roll, just without the drugs and alcohol. It's better this way, but I had to live it to learn it."
Having a pre-rehab motocross star on his hands was just one of the many challenges Parada faced in his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking, as bigger-name actors -- including "Sons of Anarchy" star Danny Trejo -- and sponsors such as Metal Mulisha and Rockstar Energy came on board and his initial $10,000 budget ballooned to $500,000. The post-production process spiraled out over two years, and he and his production team have been learning the nitty-gritty of theatrical releases and DVD distribution on the fly.
"It's been a long journey," Parada says. "It's been two and a half years since I first got the green light on the project, and I'm really excited for the film to come out and to be able to have a full-on premiere and show everybody what we've been working on. I think it's going to open up a lot of doors, not just for me but also for Beau and Scummy and everybody involved."
Trejo, the best-known actor in the cast, has appeared in nearly two dozen Hollywood films since wrapping "Bro'", in addition to his" Sons of Anarchy" role, but says smaller independent films will always have a special place in his heart.
"Films like 'Bro',' with a first-time director and a small-time budget, are a labor of love for me at this point in my career," Trejo says. "But it's a nice little movie with a good story and it was fun to play a part in it. Plus, I'm a motorcycle guy -- I ride a chopper -- and you've got to love these motocross dudes: I'm a fan of any sport that takes big nuts, and motocross takes nuts of steel."
After the premiere, "Bro'" has a limited one-week engagement at the AMC Orange 30 Theatres at 20 City Blvd. W. in Orange, Calif. The film will be available on DVD in October. For more information, visit www.BroTheFilm.com.