Unlike most Hollywood movies, there was no tangible script for Lincoln Caplice’s film The Desert Said Dance. The northern beaches filmmaker had no idea how the adventure would pan out, let alone whether the heroes of his story would triumph at the end, or even be there. But when you’re documenting the most gruelling off road motorsport race in the world, the only thing you can count on, is don’t count on anything.
“You’ve just got to keep you’re finger on the pulse,” Lincoln said. “We had no control. You’ve got to be ready for the story to change, like when we were running second and the bike broke down in the middle of nowhere in the desert. You had to be prepared for everything, from what you’d do if you won, to worst case scenario, handling a fatality.”
The Baja 1000 race is held annually on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsuala, attracting up to 500 competitors riding bikes or quads, or driving buggies and million dollar Trophy Trucks. It alternates from year-to-year between a point-to-point race traditionally starting from Ensenada and ending in La Paz, and a loop starting and ending in Ensenada. On average, it’s1,600 km, taking around 25 hours to cross highways, dirt tracks, deserts and bash up the sides of mountains.
“It’s like riding a bucking bull,” Lincoln said. “It’s an insane deal to finish it, most don’t,” Lincoln said. “The vehicles leave at staggered times, the bikes first at 3 am and they ride at around 110. Any slower the others will catch up and you don’t want a 1600 kg truck on your tail.”
With a helicopter following to capture the action shots, Lincoln’s film documents the journey of experienced Californian racers, all with strong Baja cred, Forrest Minchinton, Colton Udall, Derek Ausserbauer and Nic Garvin making up Team 5X in the 2019 loop event. Each rider raced about six hours before passing on the baton to another at the four pit stops, where Lincoln caught up with them to capture the adrenalin high when they got off their bikes.
This human element is strong throughout the film with shooting starting months before the race on November 22 when Lincoln visited the racers’ hometowns to explore their lives and their relationships with families and friends.
“We needed to make it bigger than just a story about a high-energy race appealing only to motorcycle fans,” Lincoln explained. “The support from their crews and supporters is extraordinary and the racers feel that. It’s a message of humanity.”
The humanity extended to thousands of spectators who lined the course to watch and cheer the competitors on, although on a not so sporting note, spectators weren’t above booby-trapping the course by blocking rivers, digging holes or burying obstacles.
“Their intention was never to injure anyone, they just wanted to make the race more entertaining.”
The Desert Said Dance was created by Monster Children Films and Mojave Productions, the latter founded by its executive producers Harrison Mark and Forrest Minchinton, who fulfilled his childhood dream to compete in the race. Other key members of the production team included executive producer Jam Hassan, director of photography Andy Gough and editor Lucas Vasquez. Screenings sold out in California and Noosa and Alice Springs and after the Hayden Orpheum Lincoln is off to its LA premier on March 15.
“The biggest surprise was how much this film became about the journey, not the destination,” Lincoln reflected. “Watching them race was so rewarding, it doesn’t really matter how they were placed in the end.”
Did 5X finish?
You’ll have to see the film. Meanwhile, Lincoln is living in Fairy Bower, working on commercial projects and living with his partner Lana Launay, another former Mosman High student.
“We went out after school for about three years, then split for eight, then got back together about three years ago,” he said.
Now that’s a Hollywood ending.