This fall, at the excellent the Camden International Film Festival in Camden, Maine, I had the chance to see Seth Brown’s remarkable Deus ex Machina. In this short film, Seth creates a beautiful portrait of his friend and mentor, Jack Churchill, a former cinematographer who now repairs and builds motorcycles. The bike he builds in the film is like nothing I’ve ever seen — a steampunk monster of a motorcycle, pieced together from a gazillion parts.
For Jack, bike building is about the process and losing yourself in the work. For Seth, making the film was an opportunity to learn about his mentor in a world apart from film, and to discover something about himself along the way. As he explains, “When I first started the project, Jack was tearing apart this bike, a machine designed to have its parts totally hidden from view. The film was my way of dissecting him and putting it all on the outside — a medley of moments and personality quirks that makes this man work.”