First-time director Lofty Nathan set out to film 13-Year-Old Pug’s Journey as a member of dirt bike gang The 12 O’Clock boys with little film experience or a sense of the film that would eventually surface. After five years, Nathan has created a sentimental and complicated picture of growing up in Baltimore’s gangs with a protagonist you won’t soon forget.
What it’s about: Pug, a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block, finds solace in a gang of illegal dirt bike riders known as The 12 O’Clock Boys.
Tell Us About Yourself: I was born in England and moved to the US when I was about ten.
I come from a background in painting, 12 O’Clock Boys is my first film.
I live in NY and work as a producer/DP.
What else do you want audiences to know about your film?
I began shooting this film in 2008. Besides a lot of coverage of the
dirt bike riders in action, I filmed many interviews with city officials
and police. As I followed Pug more, the film changed shape and became
less about the issues and the arguments around the Dirt Bike riders,
whose practice is certainly conflicted in being so dangerous. It is more
about the experience of that community as seen through Pug.
What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? The biggest challenge for me was really learning how to make a film. Its
my first one, so I was in the dark for a lot of it. It was a long
process, but extremely valuable. Finding the story was the most
difficult thing, then sticking to it, and honoring it in the edit.
Funding was also extremely difficult.
What would you like SXSW audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I would like audiences to come away with some understanding of the
culture and ritual of the Dirt Bike pack. At large, though, I would hope
that audiences could identify with Pug and that he may serve as a point
of entry in understanding why such an abstract kind of rebellion
Did any specific films inspire you? I like AKIRA. I also like The Bicycle Thief, I remember liking My life
as a Dog, and Kes. Documentary-wise, I’m a big fan of eighty blocks
from Tiffany’s. I also like Paris is burning. When I started working
with my editor, Thomas Niles, last September, he told me to watch 400
Blows which I hadn’t yet seen.
What camera did you shoot on? For the most part, I shot on a canon 7D. We also shot with a Phantom HD camera and an iphone once in a while.
Indiewire invited SXSW directors to tell us about their films,
including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re
doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on March 8 for the latest profiles.