After Bruce Brown turned legions of landlubbers on to the styles and seduction of surfing with Endless Summer in 1966, he did the same for motorcycles with his next documentary. Not only that, but On Any Sunday was also nominated for an Oscar in 1971. Its reach and profile were boosted by the appearance and financial backing of avid motorbike racer and Hollywood star Steve McQueen.
43 years later, Bruce’s son Dana Brown has made On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter. The film examines the same themes of sport and community around motorcycles, but perhaps nothing symbolizes its reflection of modern motorcycle culture more than the fact the film was bankrolled by Red Bull. The brand’s content division, Red Bull Media House produced and distributed the film, which is currently in theaters.
While Brown has made other action sports films like Step Into Liquid (2003), Dust to Glory (2005) and High Water (2009), this was his first experience working with a branded production partner and he was a bit hesitant. “This was the first movie I’ve ever done that’s been completely bankrolled by another entity going in,” says Brown. “On one level there’s that financial comfort, but there was a lot of trepidation at first that I might’ve been making a deal with the devil.”
Add to that putting the Any Given Sunday name on it, and Brown felt the creative pressure to live up to the classic film’s legacy within the motorcycle community. In fact, it almost didn’t happen. Red Bull originally contacted Brown about making a motorcycle film and Brown said he didn’t want to make it a sequel. But after some discussions, he relented.
“It would open it up to a level of scrutiny from fans that I wasn’t sure I wanted,” says Brown. “But I talked to my dad, who thought it was a good time to do it, and the more I thought about it, I thought it would be okay to continue the legacy.”
The film covers everything from grand prix and dirt track racing to freestyle daredevils, commuters and weekend warriors. It also features pros like MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, motocross stars Ashley Fiolek and, Travis Pastrana and Robbie Maddison. And, let’s just say the Red Bull logo is never far away. On the bikes, on hats, on race and event banners, even when it’s not front and center, it seems to always be lurking in the background. But the branded presence is more a reflection of modern action sports than any overt advertising through the film. Maddison would be wearing that hat whether Red Bull sponsored the film or not. It’s something Brown is quick to point out, but also that he was surprised at how little the brand was actually interested in its own screen time.
“They didn’t ever give me any direction to give the brand more coverage, it just turns out Red Bull sponsors a bunch of great motorcycle people,” says Brown. “Any suggestions they had were purely motivated to make the film better and I’ll listen to anyone during the creative process to make a project as good as it can be. If you look at that world, either Monster or Red Bull sponsor the majority of the top guys in most disciplines. It’s like doing a doc on NBA players and expecting not to see a Nike logo. I wasn’t going to put the On Any Sunday name out there and have it turn into something it wasn’t supposed to be. So they were very good about that.”
Red Bull trusted the director’s vision and knew its support would go a lot further with the sport’s rabid supporters than something more blatantly pumping its own brand. “They’re smart enough to know not to hammer it down people’s throats, that the soft sell is the way to go,” says Brown. “It’s great that they’re there because without them we wouldn’t have films like this.”