Filmmakers Chase Their Dream–On a Segway

Josh Caldwell and Hunter Weeks were bored with their cubicle-farm jobs, making good money but feeling empty and unfulfilled. Like many white-collar workers, they dreamed of a life beyond the veal-fattening pens. But unlike most, they found a unique way to bust out of their corporate prison: They rode a Segway, at 10 mph, from Seattle to Boston, and in the process turned themselves into filmmakers.

The movie they made of their trip, 10 MPH, came out on DVD earlier this summer. Now Caldwell and Weeks are spending a month retracing their path (this time in a car instead of on a Segway), showing the movie in theaters across the United States.

“Josh and I were kind of both stuck in the muck,” Weeks says. “We didn’t know exactly how we’d do films, we didn’t know we’d do documentaries or anything.” But they knew they wanted to make movies, and when a friend suggested in 2003 that they ride one of the then-new Segway Human Transporters across the country, the idea took hold.

In a scene from 10 MPH, Josh Caldwell and Hunter Weeks meet a humorless Illinois highway patrolman who cites them for driving their Segway too slowly.

“All of a sudden, it just clicked for us one day. We were like, ‘We’ve gotta do this,'” Weeks says.

In 2004, the two quit their jobs, spent several thousand dollars on a new Segway (plus extra batteries), and got a university to sponsor them and contribute a second Segway as a backup. Caldwell rode the Segway, while Weeks and several other volunteer crew members rode behind in a car towing a trailer full of equipment — at 10 mph, the Segway’s maximum speed.

The 4,064-mile trip took 100 days. Because a Segway only travels about 10 to 15 miles before it needs a battery change, the crew packed 16 extra batteries, recharged them all every night while they slept and swapped batteries every hour or so. In all, it took 418 battery changes to get across the country.

Along the way, the pair filmed not only themselves but also the people and places they met, from a gang of Harley-riding bikers (one of whom helped fix their Segway after his buddy crashed it) to a singularly humorless highway patrolman in Illinois. The team also faced the challenge of finishing the journey (and the movie) after their major financial backer pulled out, two-thirds of the way through the trip. The resulting movie is about more than just a couple of geeks with their high-tech toy: It’s lighthearted and entertaining, with an overarching message about accomplishing your dreams and doing your “thing.”

“For a first-time film, being that we’re totally green coming into this industry, it’s something we’re really proud of, and I feel like it’s really got our heart in it,” Weeks says.

The pair is already hard at work on a second film, 10 Yards, which is about internet-based fantasy football leagues. They expect to release it in 2008.

10 MPH is available on DVD from 10MPH.com, and can also be rented from Netflix. Weeks and Caldwell will be appearing at movie screenings across the country over the next several weeks; check their website for the schedule.

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Filmmakers Chase Their Dream–On a Segway