The Devil on Wheels, a documentary about Spielberg's Duel
The Devil on Wheels, a documentary about Spielberg's Duel
A TRIP INTO THE DUEL PHENOMENON - A feature documentary about DUEL, Steven Spielberg's cult film, through the eyes of fans.
A TRIP INTO THE DUEL PHENOMENON - A feature documentary about DUEL, Steven Spielberg's cult film, through the eyes of fans. Read more
About this project
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT A FILM MADE FOR TV IN 1971, WITH NO BUDGET, SHOT IN RECORD TIME, WITH NO BIG FILM STARS AND A ROOKIE DIRECTOR HAS BECOME THE CULT ICONIC MOVIE THAT IT IS TODAY? IN OUR DOCUMENTARY, FIVE FANS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WILL CONVENE IN THE USA AND TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO FIND OUT WHY.
Los Angeles, October 1971. A small film, made for television, is being shot near LA under the direction of a young and unknown director. The film tells the story of “a man, a truck and an open road”. It has attracted no attention at all. It's not based on a famous book. It has no stars. It has a modest budget. It will be filmed in only 13 days. But film lovers all over the world will still show their admiration for it more than four decades later.
The film is called DUEL.
A terrifying truck, whose driver we never see, for no apparent reason chases a lone driver along the desert roads of South California.
Present day. DUEL fans from all over the world regularly visit the film locations in the desert next to Los Angeles. They know every angle of the film. They go to visit the surviving truck and car. They can quote every single line of dialogue (“I'd like to report a truck driver who's been endangering my life”; “Can't beat me on the grade, you can't beat me on the grade!”). Forty-odd years later, worldwide cinema lovers still talk passionately about it and fill web blogs about it. Steven Spielberg’s first known work has become a top cinematic reference, an iconic piece of filmmaking and its influence is still fresh to this day. How come this tiny film, made cheaply and quickly for TV, has generated such a passionate, international and undying cult?
What makes DUEL so unique?
THE DEVIL ON WHEELS will look deeply into the DUEL's phenomenon and in doing so, it will explore the power and fascination of films on people.
Los Angeles, 2015. Five filmmakers are flying to Los Angeles from different countries. They share a common passion: they all admire DUEL. Their plan is to vindicate this film, exploring its making and unravelling why it's still now so deeply admired by so many people. No one has really looked into the “whats, whos and whys” of DUEL's phenomenon. They will be shooting a documentary about it.
We are Duel fans. And we want to put the film in the right place, where it belongs. All other Spielberg’s successes had the whole film industry behind them. Duel did not, but instead it had some driving force with equal or even more significant power; it had the people, it had the film lovers.
That’s passion for movies in pure form. Those are the ones behind the everlasting life of Duel. If it’s just a movie-of-the-week, why so many websites about it? Why so many new artworks based on it? Why has it been referenced in so many films, books, comic books and general media? Why did Alfonso Cuaron use it as a reference to make Gravity? If it’s only a small TV film, why does it stay in the minds of everyone that has seen it? Duel has that kind of magic. That’s why we think its phenomenon deserves a film. And we are here to make it happen. Our mission is clear.
Want to be part of the team that will help place the film where it really belongs?
With your support, the protagonist filmmakers will fly to Los Angeles from different countries and for the next few weeks, Roger (from England), Gab and Luca (from Italy), Manuel (from Spain) and Roger Vicente (from China), plus Enric (the Director, Spanish too), will be crossing the USA exploring the Duel phenomenon. We’re planning to do so driving an exact replica of the star vehicles of the film, a Peterbilt 281 truck and a red Plymouth Valiant, remade by fans for the occasion (although that depends on reaching our first stretch goal, more info later), carrying state-of-the art HD cameras. We'll be making a road movie about a road movie.
The film admirers have shown their esteem for DUEL in many ways: they've built websites in honour of the film; they've created new artwork; they've tracked every camera position from beginning to end; they've made an amazing variety of models of the iconic truck and car; they've even built a mobile restaurant which is an almost exact copy of the truck. IF IN DOUBT, PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE www.thedevilonwheelsmovie.com. Everything is there to be found!
Guided by one of the most expert fans, the team will tour the exact locations where the film was shot, mostly in the desert around LA. A big meeting will be organised with DUEL lovers in one of the film locations, so that the team can talk to them directly and get to know first-hand their feelings for the movie.
DUEL counts not only with the support of film lovers but that of the truck lovers community (and the Peterbilt lovers community in particular) for whom the starring vehicles of the film, and particularly the Peterbilt 281, are mythical. The film is dedicated to them too!
Spielberg was just 24 years old when the film was shot. He made DUEL and DUEL made him, his own words. This little movie gave a career to one the most influential directors in film history.
The DOW crew will talk to the surviving members of the Duel crew. We’ll be visiting the surviving Duel truck in North Carolina, and talk to experts to discuss the ongoing appreciation of the film. We’ll pay homage to the great RICHARD MATHESON (author of the script and cult fantasy author), DENNIS WEAVER (the human star, the perfect everyman), JACK MARTA (the amazing cinematographer), GEORGE ECKSTEIN (the very respected producer), CAREY LOFTIN (the best stuntman ever?), the amazing editing, music and sound crew… So much talent in one little film!
We are planning as well to discuss the film with very special Duel fans like Alfonso Cuaron, Edgar Wright and the Master of Horror himself, Stephen King. We will ask them to join us in the trip!
Very importantly, we'll get the community of DUEL fans fully involved and get to hear what they have to say. A meeting will be organised in one of the film locations: we want to hear fandom stories - some of them we already know and will appear here in due time during this campaign. JUST A TASTE OF ONE: A Belgian fan geolocated every single shot of the film. A glimpse of the Google Earth file he created:
Certainly, DOW will be made with the help and support of fans all world over. That’s why doing a crowd funding campaign makes so much sense.
And of course we will request an interview with the man himself.
Spielberg refused to shoot the film in the orthodox movie-of-the week manner and took many risks, filming on location, mostly in a stretch of 15 miles of road and following a carefully designed map to get the most out of the cameras in record time. DOW will reproduce, satellite POV, the exact way the film was shot, following step by step that map. THANKS TO NEW TECHNOLOGIES INVOLVING CGI, YOU WILL WITNESS HOW THE FILM WAS MADE FROM BEGINNING TO END.
We have approached UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and they are fully aware of our plans. They are being very nice, supportive and helpful to us. Thanks for that! Our hope is to interview Steven Spielberg AFTER the shooting, so that we can share with him what we’ve learnt during the making of DOW. We’d like to know his feelings about this creature of his, quickly made 45 years ago, yet still very much alive and kicking today; a little David that turned out to be able to overtake a few Goliaths.
We'll hear what he has to say about it.
As in any road movie, THE DEVIL ON WHEELS is not about where you are heading for, but about what you learn on the way.
Roger Vicente, with a Chinese wife and the better looking child in the East, works as a foreign correspondent in Beijing for a Spanish TV channel. His short films about China life are always full of irony and humour. The 2008 documentary “Chining Me” showed his adventures in pre-Olympic China. Biggest Duel fan in China. firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuel Rodríguez works in Barcelona as a director and editor (and occasional actor) in commercials, pop videos and very personal and satirical documentaries. Proud father of his first kid, Ulises. And a Duel fan. email@example.com
The Italian twins Luca and Gab, from Neviano, as well as working as editors and making shorts, are touring Europe with a successful theatre/dance show which they co-created and in which the twins are the only actors. Italy's Number One and Two Duel fans. Which of them is number one we don't know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Allen, producer, works as in IT Consultant in the media Industry, a fantastic drone operator and an avid film fan. email@example.com
And Enric Folch, from Spain, writer and director, who returns to documentary making after the excellent international reception of Chining Me, an ironical view on pre-Olympic China. His most successful TV film Tempus Fugit will soon have a theatrical remake through an international coproduction. A hardcore long-time Duel fan. firstname.lastname@example.org. IMDB page and Showreel.
Enric, our director, had been nurturing the idea of DOW for a number of years:
“I discovered DUEL as a teenager, in a repertory cinema in Barcelona. That was October 21st 1978. It cost me 100 pesetas. I still have the ticket.
When I watched DUEL it impressed me deeply. But I did not suspect that it would still impress me almost 45 years later. Time is usually a ruthless judge, but one would say that DUEL has passed its trial unscathed.
You can't justify its success with money, locations, stars, budget or explicit sex. It's a man, a car and an open road. Yet it has filled the heart of countless film fans the way only a selected few films can do. It's many people's favourite film. What makes it an even more special case is that it started as just a humble movie of the week. It was not supposed to hit the screens. It was not supposed to be remembered for generations. How does it do it?
DUEL's story is a story of passion. Passion is what shows the way the film was made. Passion is what shows the way fans feel about it. DUEL is a movie that has gone way beyond itself and the road that admirers have taken to prove their admiration for it seems to have no end.
In these last few years we've witnessed a long string of huge box office and critical disasters, big fantasy films like “John Carter”, “Speed Racer”, “Jack the Giant Slayer”, “The Lone Ranger”... Those films, despite having cost astronomical amounts of money and despite showing state of the art CGI SFX, only lasted in the memory of audiences the time that it takes to pronounce their titles. Maybe it's not a bad idea to reclaim a different way of making commercial movies where size doesn't matter, where only the creation of emotions counts. Commercial fantasy films with a soul. Like DUEL.
The social media technologies have evolved in such a way that now, for the first time in history, the making of a film can be connected live with its followers. It's time to use these tools. And THE DEVIL ON WHEELS is the perfect project for this, as it needs to be strongly linked with the fans.
Another reason why I feel this project is ready to go now is that I believe I've found the right team, the travelling companions I need. They are a very charismatic, international and dynamic bunch indeed, very much linked into today’s social media and who will connect easily with our audience.
It will not be essential to have watched DUEL to enjoy DOW. Our goal is to make those who have not to wish to do so right after watching DOW.
And, now, what DOW will not be:
...a publicity for DUEL (not that it needs it!).
...a heavy-weight thesis on DUEL.
…a film about film freaks.
The international fans, though, are the ones who have kept DUEL 100% alive. That's love for movies in pure form.
A truck, a car and an open road.
What's the magic?”
DUEL's title was kept in most countries, but in a few it didn’t remain: the film was called Cornered in Brazil, Death Challenge in Mexico, Kilometre Terror in Finland, A Killer in the Back in Portugal and in Spain, THE DEVIL ON WHEELS.
This title has been chosen as an homage to DUEL's international recognition.
Be one of us!
The name of the rewards are taken from dialogue of the film. Fans know most of the lines by memory...
We have a wide range of Duel themed rewards for you: from Special Content for your Backer eyes only, DOW Signed T-Shirts...
...Free Digital Releases, DVDs of The Devil on Wheels - a limited edition for our supporters, a very rare Blu Ray version of Duel only available in China...
...DOW "Making Of" books, a book on the making of Duel, fantastic new Duel Posters by very creative artists...
...credits in the website, credits in the film!, invitations to the opening of the film, the chance of being in the film! An opportunity to drive a Duel truck! And of course, our fantastic Teaser Poster only for our admired Kickstarter backers:
AND PLEASE MAKE OTHERS AWARE OF DOW! YOU'LL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!!!
REMEMBER, WE HAVE A MISSION:
TO VINDICATE THE FILM, TO HELP PLACE DUEL WHERE IT BELONGS, HIGH IN THE OLYMPUS OF FANTASY FILMS, TO MAKE EVERYBODY AWARE OF IT.
AND FOR THAT WE NEED YOU!
BE ONE OF THE CREW.
THANKS FROM OUR (DUEL) HEARTS
THE DEVIL ON WHEELS CREW
Risks and challenges
We are trying to raise a significant amount of money, which is nothing for most films but for us it means the world.
We've been working on it for almost two years now and we know we are ready, but money is the key and your support will make this happen.
You know films take long to shoot and edit. Then once it’s done, you have to wait for festivals and then for distribution. My God, you have to be patient! And persistent. So we cannot give 100% accurate dates, I'm sure you'll understand.
IMPORTANT: The estimated delivery date in each perk corresponds with the reward that will take more time to send from that particular pack. For instance, the DVD will be sent once the film gets distributed in that format, which could be, say, 2016. But if you have a T-Shirt or a poster in that same pack, it will be sent to you right after the campaign.
Unfortunately, we can not afford to pay for shipping costs. But we will make sure it is sent you in the most economical way.
But please believe us when we say that we are eager to get to the moment where we show you the completed film! You are not only going to help us make the film, you'll be part of it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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