COLUMBUS, Miss. -- In the small town of Sturgis, something was missing. It wasn’t a popular restaurant or the latest trendy supermarket, but it was the rumbling of v twin engines.
For three consecutive years, the absence of The Rally, formerly known as Sturgis South, had left the small town of Sturgis unusually quiet. Since the mid-90s upwards of 30,000 guests would flock to the annual fall event full of concerts, bike shows and blessing of the bikes. Due to unhealthy growth and a decreasing economy, the event went on hiatus after the 2010 event.
“Make your appointment for The Rally” read the sign. Mississippi University for Women marketing instructor Thomas Haffey noticed it while driving through the nearby town of Starkville one summer day in 2014. Haffey, who co-owns R/T Images along with his wife Rebecca, had been exploring the idea of filmmaking. He just needed a sign.
“Motorcycles are pretty, and that event has been huge for this area. That could be a movie, a story or a documentary,” said Haffey. “This was my first film project of any sort. It turned out to be a bigger undertaking than I would have chosen if I thought about it longer.”
With less than a month to prepare for the new endeavor, work had to be done. The first step Haffey took was to purchase more equipment. After browsing several websites and chatting with several companies online, new audio equipment was on the way. He used every resource available to test and make trial runs and check lists. This meant impromptu filming of his kids in the backyard and crash courses online. Haffey then persistently communicated with the president of The Rally board, gained his trust and set up a time to begin filming.
Arriving on the first day of set up a week before the Rally opened and continuing for nine days, Haffey was a one-man filming crew. He played writer, director, producer and cameraman. He was the man on the street with a camera and tripod except for the time he drove through the middle of The Rally with a camera strapped to his car hood. He would interview any and everybody who was there to welcome The Rally back to Sturgis. The result was over 100 interviews on camera and 400 gigabytes of video and audio files. Haffey credited his wife for providing artistic touches, graphic design and accountability throughout the process.
“Besides covering the events of The Rally weekend itself, about half of the movie focuses on town’s people, Sturgis leaders, vendors and bikers about why The Rally went away and what brought it back,” said Haffey. “The event got so big it collapsed on itself due to skyrocketing costs. The economic recession then hit, and people had to start selling their Harleys to pay their mortgages. Once things settled down financially, the people of Sturgis basically demanded that the event return. The Rally board had budgetary constraints, a lack of advertising and legal issues with the Sturgis, South Dakota rally, but they worked hard to bring it back.”
The finished product is the hour-long documentary “Sturgis: Rallying Back,” which is the behind the scenes story of the fight and struggle of the area’s only family-friendly bike rally returning to Sturgis in 2014.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, the film will premiere at the Grenada Afterglow Film Festival and then the Rails to Reels Film Festival in Meridian Saturday, Oct. 17. To learn more about the film and view the trailer, please visit: www.facebook.com/SturgisRallyingBack
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 1, 2015
Contact: Tyler Wheat