My lovely wife gave me an editing weekend for my birthday. I’ve got a 24 minute cut that still needs quite a bit of work. Spending a big chunk of time with the footage has shown me what still needs to be done. I’m looking forward to spending some more time on it in April, May & June (when my job slows down) – maybe doing some more interviews, and hopefully having a final cut in the summer.
Well… David Sanderson, of the Winnipeg Free Press, just wrote a feature on Sekine. This article might well be the kick in the pants I need to get back on this project.
It’s been on the back burner for a couple of years now, for two reasons. First, I’ve been working on other meaningful, and more financially self/family-sustaining things. Second, two of the main “characters” in the film I had envisioned, have refused to participate. Here’s the problem – I had pre-interviewed them both, and now I have all of their information in my head, and have had trouble seeing the story unfolding in any other way, than with them at the centre. One was privy to all of the politics, before, during and after, as the director of the Oo-za-we-kwun Training Centre. The second was one of the original manufacturing engineers from Japan. He had quite a lot of backstory on Sekine, pre-Manitoba, as well as knowing all of the ins and outs of the manufacturing process. My inability to re-envision the story without them has been the cause of my long hiatus from this film.
Having some time off this summer, I am revisiting the footage, in the attempt to get a new vision for this doc. I’ll keep you posted as to my progress.
If you’re interested, here’s the article from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Ernie Kematch lives in Winnipeg’s West End, is a sought-after Gospel Music singer, and was an employee at Sekine Canada. He worked on the assembly line for two years and remembers the feeling of accomplishment each time a completed bike came off the line. When I interviewed him last week, he said that the feeling comes back when he sees a Sekine on the road in Winnipeg today.
Spent Sunday afternoon with David Geisel at Natural Cycle. We talked about everything from bike fit to bike manufacturing. Natural Cycle is a great local shop in downtown Winnipeg, and the mechanics there have a great vantage point from which to observe bike culture in Winnipeg. There are still a lot of Sekine’s on the road in this city, and a lot of people bring them in to Natural Cycle for tune-ups and, in my case, wheel upgrades.
Well, after spending a good chunk of the winter on paying projects, back to the labour of love. I’ve recently been editing together some footage from my two trips to the Oo-za-we-kwun base – trying to get an idea of the style of the film. I’ve also been transcribing some of the interviews I’ve finished. The next couple of weeks will include tracking down additional former employees and managers, talking to some more local bike shop owners about the ‘Sekine boom’ here in Winnipeg during the 70s and 80s, and collecting some info regarding Sekine’s place in today’s bike-commuter culture. Should be fun!
Spent the afternoon with the fascinating Michio Kimura, who used to be the head engineer for Sekine Canada, as well as the assistant to the President of Sekine Canada. He had some very interesting things to say about the original Mr. Sekine, from Arakawa, Japan.
He was a very humble man, and it was said of him that “The lower he bowed, the more money he made.” He was a very detail and quality-focused businessman, and would regularly send raw materials back to suppliers if it didn’t meet his approval. Arakawa was a very working class, industrial neighbourhood, and the original Sekine’s were made so that Japanese without cars, could still get to and from work quickly, and transport what they needed easily. Mr. Kimura said that the early Sekine’s often had very large baskets or bins attached.
This doc has been on my radar since a friend of my in-laws saw my Sekine, and said “You know those were made in Manitoba, don’t you?” And no, I didn’t. That was two years ago. Since that time, I’ve been researching what brought Sekine, a Japanese company, to Canada to manufacture and assemble bicycles. This process has led me to an abandoned Air Force Base near Rivers, Manitoba, Canada, and a massive hangar that used to be the home of Sekine Canada. This site will include updates on the documentary production process, as well as a compilation of interesting facts, photos and documents related to Sekine’s time here on the Canadian Prairies.