Filmmaker rushing to finish cancer-ride movie

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Ramsey Tripp has had to edit his movie, "The Peloton Project," on nights and weekends because lack of funds forced him to take bill-paying jobs. He is planning to showcase his work at the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival in April.

LEWISTON — Documentarian Ramsey Tripp knows the date, the hour and the location his film, "The Peloton Project," will be premiered to the world.

The film is far from finished, though.

Tripp doesn't even know how many hours of high-definition footage were accumulated by him and a team of filmmakers. Rather, he knows how much computer space the footage occupies.

"What I know is we have about 14 terabytes of media," he said. "It's insane."

In less than three months — at 6 p.m. April 5 — he'll be done. The movie is scheduled to be the featured Friday night attraction at the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. The movie is expected to sell out the grand Franco-American Heritage Center.

Faith, focus and sweat will help Tripp finish on time.

"I have to," he said, sitting behind a laptop computer flanked by a pair of wide-screen monitors. "It's like a do-or-die kind of thing."

The film has been an extraordinary effort.

It tells the stories of cyclists who journeyed 2,500 miles from Calgary, British Columbia, to Lewiston in October 2012. They endured hail, sleet, snow, wind and rain. They saw gorgeous vistas and rode over potholed roads shrouded in fog.

In all, 39 cyclists on six teams relayed through a 24-hour schedule, each time covering 60 to 80 miles per day. The whole trip took a week.

Tripp's film covers that journey.

It covers another one, too. Each cyclist was paired with someone diagnosed with cancer. Before and after the ride, Tripp and his team worked to capture stories of the people with cancer, too.

"I think we have what we need to make it compelling," Tripp said. "We have great people and great stories."

Actor Patrick Dempsey, who grew up in Turner and Buckfield, is an executive producer on the film, lending his name and credibility to the project. He plans to record a narration for the film, Tripp said.

He is confident that a good movie has been photographed.

"We've gotten really great stuff from multiple shoots," Tripp said. "And now it's just time to take that and put it together so that we can tell a good story."

Above his head, a handwritten sign read, "What's best for the film."

"It is sitting down in a chair and just slugging it out," he said.

Making his time crunch even worse is money.

The production raised almost $20,000 from the group-funding Internet site, Kickstarter. There was a $10,000 donation from Green Mountain Coffee and a $5,000 donation from IDEXX. There were also in-kind donations, most notably from Rinck Advertising. Company president and cancer survivor Laura Davis is a producer.

The donations helped get the film made, but money is quickly running out. There's no money to pay for Tripp's time. So he has been forced to take bill-paying jobs during the day and has moved the movie work to nights and weekends.

Tripp runs Trade-Mark R Productions. Among its services, the shop makes commercials for TV and the Web.

"You can't say no to that work because the funding's not there for the film to take it through," he said.

Despite such pressure, Tripp seems calm in his Lisbon Street office decorated with notes, outlines and storyboards.

Film festival director Joshua Shea has no doubt Tripp will complete his film in time, though he wouldn't be surprised to see Tripp running up the Franco center's front steps with a just-completed edit five minutes before the premiere, Shea said.

The festival has already sold lots of tickets for the event. Admission to the premiere is $32. On Jan. 28, tickets will be $35.

"I trust him and I trust his team," Shea said of Tripp. "I have no worries whatsoever."

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