“Portland’s a very bikeable city.” So the saying goes. And man, did I hear a lot of that saying when I spent a weekend up in Oregon recently. I also had a chance to meet Sharon and Carl Jameson, creators of a long-running Portland-based web show they recently turned into a movie. Guess what it’s called? The Bicyclist.
The two-year-old show is a thoughtfully done dramatic comedy about a group of young people in Portland. Its most redeeming quality is that it has the feel of real life — even with wacky plot elements like “the Demon SUV” as the bad guy.
The most surprising thing I found out when I met with writer/director Carl Jameson and producer Sharon Jameson was how much it cost to make the show, given that it’s a completely independent operation run by the two of them — with no signs of a big payday in sight. The two spent $20,000 making the web show, $30,000 making the movie, and they expect total costs to rise to $100,000 all told when the movie is marketed and distributed. That’s not much for say, a venture-backed web studio, but for folks who make a web show on weekends, it’s quite a bit of cash.
“If I were to judge our success on money, I’d say it has been a miserable failure,” Sharon said. The Bicyclist has collected a modest half-million views across 30 episodes. Its revenue to date consists of “$20 once in a while from Revver,” said Sharon (it changed primary hosting to blip.tv, but doesn’t earn much more from that). But the Jamesons say once the ball got rolling, they couldn’t stop it. A lot of it is out of loyalty to the team, said Carl, who noted the improvement of the actors since they started working on the series.
The Jamesons are also trying out posting mini-documentaries on bike shops on the site and putting their experience creating web content up for hire through their video and design firm, Craftmaster Productions. And now they have the next Bicyclist project — trying to get the feature, which is called The Bicyclists and centers on the same four main characters — into film festivals, and selling DVDs online.
Check out the series, especially if you’ve ever been to Portland. It might just make you nostalgic. Oh, and it’s pretty good!
Image credit: The Bicyclist.