Filmmaker seeks funds for movie detailing epic cycle

Graham Kitchener and Pauline Symaniak arrive in Seattle
Graham Kitchener and Pauline Symaniak arrive in Seattle
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HE had a close encounter with a wild bear, survived a fall from his bike which left him with a shoulder injury and repaired no less than 15 tyre punctures.

Now Portobello filmmaker Graham Kitchener, who joined his best friend Pauline Symaniak on part of an epic round-the-world cycle, is raising funds to help create a documentary film from the adventure.

He hopes to enter Sleepless ’til Seattle in next year’s Sundance Film Festival and the 2013 Edinburgh Film Festival.

The North American leg of the expedition saw the intrepid pair cycle around 4000 miles from Plymouth, near Boston, to Seattle between May and October last year.

Mr Kitchener, who hopes to have the film completed by August, said the journey was “incredible”.

“We were living our American dream,” he said. However, the trip was not without its near disasters.

“A fully grown male black bear decided to destroy a dumpster for four hours from 1am,” he said. “Our tent was about 30 yards away. I was lying there absolutely terrified.”

Mr Kitchener captured as much as possible of the countryside, wildlife and “kind-hearted” Americans that they encountered along the way.

Assisted by Ms Symaniak, who has carried on cycling and is now in New Zealand, Mr Kitchener, 48, managed to accumulate 117 hours of footage, which he is editing into a feature-length documentary.

He hopes to raise around £12,000 to fund the production using funding platform IndieGoGo.

As well as legal fees and festival admission, the money will be used to commission an original soundtrack by a bluegrass band that the pair discovered in Port Townsend, Washington, in addition to 3D maps to illustrate their ambitious journey.

Mr Kitchener, who has raised just over £1300 so far, said: “We have created a range of rewards to recognise people’s support. We hope that the biggest reward will be knowing that they have helped bring this story to the big screen.”

Among the rewards on offer in return for donations are photographs from the journey, as well as a CD of the music from the film.

With just 46 days left to raise the funds he is hoping people will come forward to support the film.

“You choose how long you want your campaign to run when you set it up on the website,” he said. “I chose 89 days.

“Any shortfall will have to be met out of my own pocket, but I am hopeful we will be able to raise the funds needed. Whatever it takes, I am passionate and determined enough that this film will be finished and will reach a wide audience.”

Ms Symaniak’s cycle in aid of Oxfam got under way from Portobello in July 2010.

To sponsor Mr Kitchener, visit {http:// www.indiegogo.com/sleepless-til-seattle|www.indiegogo.com/sleepless-til-seattle|www.indiegogo.com/sleepless-til-seattle}.