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A Little 500 Documentary Finally Crosses the Finish Line

A few minutes into One Day in April, a documentary that debuts this month about Indiana University’s Little 500 bicycle race, the coach for the Delta Tau Delta cycling team reminds the cameraman of a familiar saying. “No one remembers second,” he says, tapping the steering wheel of his car with his 2012 champion’s ring. “That’s just the way it is.”

The filmmakers hope that’s not exactly true. More than three decades after Breaking Away first introduced the race to the world, Thomas Miller, Peter Stevenson, and Ryan Black—all IU alumni—will present their film at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington on April 24. And in this case, second looks pretty good.

The documentary follows four teams—the Cutters, Delta Tau Delta, Teter, and Delta Gamma. Scenes include the riders training in cramped rooms during the winter and competing at spring events, all in pursuit of glory at the 2013 Little 500. As the big day approached, the filmmakers realized they would need a crew to capture it all. “It would have been easy to make it the Delts vs. the Cutters or Teter vs. DG, but that film would’ve been a lie,” Miller says.

So the auteurs launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and raised more than $8,000 to rent nearly 20 cameras, a crane, and radios, as well as hire several friends with little video experience to operate it all. Surprisingly excellent footage resulted. But after race day came and went, the filmmakers couldn’t help but think there was more to the story. “You really can’t talk about what it means without looking at what happens to the riders in the year following,” Miller says.

Despite pressure from some of their Indiegogo backers to release the movie last year, the team decided to film the 2014 race as well and see what the athletes were up to 12 months later. It was a decision that helps define One Day in April. In the heat of the moment, the riders focused on minutiae like not pushing hard enough in lap 97. With some time to reflect, they were able to more fully appreciate what the race had meant to them.

After the Bloomington premiere, Miller and company hope to shop their work around at film festivals. Success in that world can be even more elusive than it is on the bicycle track. But win or lose, the experience is something the crew won’t soon forget. “If you’re a rider, you train as hard as you can, give it your all, and whatever happens on race day happens,” Miller says. “But you carry that year, that race with you forever. I think that’s true for me, too.”

Three Other Hoosier Films Debuting Soon

May 2015
Cries Unheard
Two young girls struggle with child abuse, racism,
and bullying. Lead Hoosier actresses Taylor Moss and JaKaylah Rich make their acting debut in this drama, produced by Dreams Come True Films, a family-run company based in Terre Haute.

Late 2015
White Space
Fishing goes intergalactic. A daring crew ventures into uncharted territory
to capture a deadly creature in this sci-fi thriller, produced by Mike the Pike Productions, located in Fort Wayne.

January 2016
Night School
High school is hard, and even harder for those who don’t finish in four years. Director and Purdue University lecturer Andrew Cohn focuses on students earning degrees at the Excel Centers throughout Indiana in this documentary.

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