Navistar has pumped millions of dollars into an unorthodox marketing campaign for its retro-styled LoneStar, which is almost as unique as the truck itself. When the LoneStar was still a mere prototype, the company commissioned Academy Award-nominated director Brett Morgen to spend several weeks on the road with three American truckers and to capture their experiences in a 45-minute documentary.
“I completely fell in love with trucking and with these guys,” Morgen said of the experience during a press conference with the three stars prior to the premiere at the Great American Trucking Show last week.
The cast – three colourful, free-spirited, salt-of-the-earth truckers – enjoyed a rare moment in the spotlight at the press conference, before we were whisked into a packed theatre to enjoy the first public showing of the film. I’m not a movie critic, but I can tell you I was thoroughly impressed with the end result.
While the first few minutes of the film were blatantly commercial (and who can complain, when Navistar forked over $3 million to produce the film?), the LoneStar soon took a back seat to the real stars of the show, the three drivers: Tim Young, Steve Donaldson and Chris LeCount. Each of the characters brought something different to the table.
As Morgan explained before the premiere, Tim was the ‘family guy,’ Chris brought a genuine love of trucking and Steven was in ‘search of salvation.’ These are real truckers. Sometimes they speed, sometimes they work longer than they should and sometimes they just break down emotionally. The film captures all that. But it also digs deeper, and reveals what drives these guys, the likes of which form the backbone of the industry. Downtrodden and often unappreciated, they keep the industry – and the economy – moving.
By the end of the film, I was tempted to call in my resignation from Dallas and head straight down to the nearest International dealer. Why fly home when I could drive some of those same roads and enjoy some of the same sights featured in the film?
But that’s not to say the film glorifies the trucking industry while ignoring its many faults. The film poignantly captured the frustrations of each of the drivers – everything from the difficulty of getting a load, to the impact fuel prices are having on owner/operators, to the challenges of trying to adhere to impossible-to-meet delivery schedules.
However the incredible scenery shots as well as the camaraderie shared by the drivers on the road is a reminder of why truckers do what they do, something one of the truckers admitted in the film ‘nobody else wants to do.’
Each of the three stars has a compelling story to tell – stories that make even the most overtly commercial sections of the film easier to sit through. This is a film that everyone should see. It was developed for truckers, but it has crossover appeal as well and would be equally appreciated by people outside the industry.
The real shame is that, at this point, the film doesn’t have a broader audience. The DVD will be sold by International at www.internationaltrucks.com/shop and through Amazon beginning in October, but it isn’t scheduled to be broadcast on television and due to the commercial nature of the film, there’s no guarantee it ever will be. It would be a shame if this film doesn’t reach a wider audience.
I’m not going to reveal too much about the film, because where there’s a will there’s a way, and those of you who are interested in seeing it will order it online. A portion of the proceeds will go towards a program that helps find jobs in the trucking industry for returning US war veterans.
For a whole lot more info on Drive and Deliver, visit www.internationatrucks.com/film.
Chris LeCount, Tim Young and Steve Donaldson (L-R) stand before an International LoneStar in this promo shot.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies