This morning I spoke with Michael Dubrow, the producer of “Major The Movie.”
Dubrow is a southern California entrepreneur and longtime cycling enthusiast, finding time to ride four to five thousand miles a year while starting and running his money making ventures. For the past five years, his mission has been to produce a movie on the life of Major Taylor, the famous track cyclist known for being the first African-American athlete to achieve the level of world champion.
In that time, Dubrow has raised about half the $20 million budget for this film. He’s recruited experienced producer Scott Mednick and director Kenneth Berris to his team, and screenwriter David Michael Wieger has created what Dubrow says is a really good script, based on Andrew Ritchie’s biography of Major Taylor.
“We’re focusing on Major Taylor’s childhood through age 20 in 1899, when he won the world championship in Montreal and then did it again in a rematch,” says Dubrow. “It’s the story of an underdog who wins, and it’s also the story of his mentor Birdie Munger”, the man who coached Major Taylor and became his lifelong friend.
“When Birdie found Taylor, Birdie was kind of a has-been. Birdie raced across the United States on a high wheeler bicycle on dirt roads and trails in the 1880s,” Dubrow tells me, “and this cross country race broke him of racing and he got into the bike business. This won’t be in the movie, but Birdie’s story is fascinating too. He was from northern Michigan in a progressive family for the time. They moved to a community of freed slaves just over the border in Canada, so Birdie grew up with black people and never thought of them as anybody to discriminate against.”
I mentioned that several people think Rahsaan Bahati might have a role for this movie, and Dubrow told me he’s already been working on that. “I’d love to talk with Bahati. I think he would be perfect as a stunt double,” which would basically be any scene that involves Major Taylor on a bicycle I hope he doesn’t mind spinning around a track without a helmet!
“This is an impossible time to produce an independent film,” says Dubrow, “but this film will be made and I hope to have all of the financing lined up by the end of this year. I want to avoid the studios if I can, because they’ll want to make it into a fictional Disney story, and Major Taylor’s life is fantastic drama just the way it is.”
“I think we can make this film for $15 million, but I’d like to get somebody like Matthew McConaughey to play Birdie, and this is a hat movie [a movie set in the olden days, because everybody wore those marvelous hats] and period pieces cost more if you want them to look right.” Besides the period sets, there are replica old timey bicycles, derny bikes, maybe a velodrome to refurbish, really old school shoes, 19th century woolen bike jerseys an shorts, and of course those marvelous tweed suits and hats and waxed mustaches. Wouldn’t a tweed ride of Major Taylor Movie extras be really cool?
Movie producer Michael Dubrow comes across as sincere and committed, with an infectious passion about cycling and Major Taylor’s story. I’m looking forward to seeing this happen.
If you’d like to receive updates on the status of the movie, click on the Contact page for the Major Movie website and add your name and email address on the web contact form.