The stars of 'Drive and Deliver' (Chris, Tim and Steve) pose in front of an International LoneStar in this film poster.
DALLAS, Texas — A film that showcases the International LoneStar as well as the truckers who drive it premiered to a packed theatre at the Great American Trucking Show last week.
The 45-minute film, produced by Academy Award-nominated director Brett Morgen, documents the lives of three American truckers as they made the inaugural deliveries hauled by a prototype International LoneStar.
“One of the goals of the film is to showcase truck drivers as a vital and proud breed of the American workforce,” said Al Saltiel, vice-president of marketing for International’s parent company, Navistar. “It chronicles three truck drivers, in varying stages in life, yet all passionate about their profession and the role they play in the economy.”
More than 700 truck drivers were interviewed for the roles, with three being selected. They included: Steve Donaldson, a 58-year-old owner/operator with a real passion for trucking; Tim Young, a family man from Alabama; and Chris LeCount, a karaoke-singing trucker from Goshen, Ind. The film follows them on the road as they cope with the daily grind faced by today’s professional drivers.
In a press conference prior to the premiere, Morgen said “I’m a big fan of westerns and a big fan of cowboys and to me, truckers sort of personified that part of American mythology.”
He accompanied each of the drivers on the road as they made real-life deliveries, and spent countless hours interviewing them in what he called the “floating confessional box.” The film was shot using four cameras: one aboard a helicopter; one inside the cab; another strategically set up at scenic locations; and another in a car that would follow or lead the LoneStar, sometimes shooting from as little as four-inches from its front bumper as they rolled down the highway.
For Morgen, it was the first time he travelled the country by truck, which he said was an eye-opening experience especially having to dine on truck stop food every day.
The truckers, salt-of-the-earth-type guys, said being involved in a film shoot took some getting used to. Morgen said “These guys are all used to being their own boss and now there’s a film crew there and they’re not alone. We had to get certain shots now and again, and they’re not used to people telling them what to do.”
“I never had a boss, and all of a sudden I had 30 bosses,” Donaldson added.
Morgen admitted he got off to a rocky start with Donaldson, but they worked out their differences after enough time spent together in the cab. While the film showcased the call of the open road and featured breathtaking scenery, it didn’t sugar coat the real-life challenges faced by today’s owner/operators.
“I think people think of us as second-class citizens,” Donaldson told trucking media before the showing. “There are people who literally lay their lives down on the road to make sure people get their groceries the next day. Without us out here, the world would stand still but we’re the most discriminated people out there.”
The fourth star of the film was the International LoneStar itself. While Morgen said Navistar gave him carte blanche in determining how much – or little – of the LoneStar to show, the truck featured prominently in the film. The distinct-looking retro-style tractor turned plenty of heads on the road and prompted a lot of inquiries from other drivers. “It was a love-fest everywhere we went,” said Morgen.
The truckers in the film said they also fell in love with the truck.
“At first, I was skeptical of the truck,” admitted Donaldson. “I wondered ‘What’s this going to cost me to fix.’ But I fell instantly in love with that truck, especially the front air suspension with the torsion bar. I’ve never had a truck handle like that.”
He said he parked alongside the highway in the desert one night, lit up the chicken lights and slept on the ground next to the rig.
The film itself, shot at a cost of about $3 million, will be released on DVD in early October. It will be available for purchase online at www.internationaltrucks.com/shop and through online retailers such as Amazon.com. A portion of the proceeds will go towards an American Trucking Associations program that matches military veterans with jobs in the trucking industry. To view the trailer and find out more about the film, visit www.internationatrucks.com/film.
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