Lucas Brunelle – talent and ability hidden behind the lens

Barry Sandland/TIMB - Filmmaker Lucas Brunelle at the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Paris

Barry Sandland/TIMB – The forerunner of underground film about bicycle couriers – Lucas Brunelle

“Over the years, I have developed this peripheral memory of where I am, so I know where the cars are and I barely have to move my head. But I make these films because I just want people to ride. To celebrate what they do.

“I use these film cameras and not the new digital cameras because these have a far better quality when the image is blown up. And these are more stable on the ride.”



©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Lucas Brunelle with his camera/headset combination at the Cycle Messenger World Championships

Barry Sandland/TIMB – The forerunner of underground film about bicycle couriers – Lucas Brunelle

Notes: This is Lucas Brunelle, perhaps the best known of all the alternative, underground filmmakers that occupy the bicycle courier world. Lots of us might not know him directly, but then you see his trademark helmet with the cameras strapped on, facing each direction. It can only be him. All the couriers have seen his film, “Line of Sight”. He is most celebrated for his films of alleycat races, following the bicycle couriers as they hurl themselves through traffic, evading bumpers, merging into traffic flows with millimetre precision. Just his riding is an art form.

 

When you look at bicycle couriers and the way they spontaneously choose a line in the traffic, change directions, twist their frames and bodies through spaces, then you see that he has chosen to follow their line, to accept their erratic chaos as his own. The bike skills alone are stunning. You get this wheel-by-wheel coverage of the race, the accelerations, the slicing between traffic and the sudden obstacles.
Then you realise he barely moves his head, no sense of looking left or right. The focus is on the wheel ahead of him, seemingly oblivious to the inherent moving, and painful, dangers on the road. I keep thinking about these NatGeo documentaries of the daring explorer on a cliff face, doing this incredible climb and everybody celebrates the bravery and skill of the climber being filmed.
But people do not realise that there is this filmmaker doing the same climb but with a massive camera being carried along – that camera person, their skill and technique completely ignored.
Lucas Brunelle has a breadth of films that shows a love of cycling that reaches far beyond the courier world where he made his fame. He has tours across Africa, slaloming his bike down sand dunes, riding through back roads and lost paths.
It all blends into his commitment to cycling and a way to follow and advance, through films, the range of cycling out there. This is not Olympics or the early season classics. He leans more to the bizarre and outlandish, the outliers and eccentrics of the sport.
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