June 13--LEWISTON -- Hollywood is turning up the heat on "The Peloton Project," a locally made documentary about a 2012 cancer-fighting bicycle trek from Calgary to Lewiston.
The movie's executive producer, Buckfield native Patrick Dempsey, has enlisted the help of his agency, United Talent, to help the low-budget project. Agents have worked with Lewiston filmmakers Ramsey Tripp and Laura Davis to sharpen the already dramatic movie with a few changes and to prepare it for one of North America's biggest movie venues, the Toronto Film Festival.
"They're hugely helping us," said Tripp, who directed the film.
United Talent Agency is one of Hollywood's biggest. Besides Dempsey, its long client list includes Johnny Depp, Seth Rogan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Radcliffe and Harrison Ford.
No contract for "The Peloton Project" is signed with the agency, known as UTA. Rather, they're helping at Dempsey's request, Tripp said.
In April, a rough cut of the movie opened the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. Dempsey, who had already signed on as executive producer, saw the film for the first time that night. It details the 2,500-mile journey made by 39 cyclists. In relay teams, they cycled nonstop for a week despite sometimes brutal weather, chaotic traffic and injuries.
The cyclists, most of whom were from the Calgary area, were each paired with someone who either had cancer or had beat it. Cameras caught the scene when the cyclists and their "warriors" united at the end of the trek in Lewiston this past October.
Immediately after the festival screening, Dempsey praised Tripp, cinematographer Jayson Lobozzo and producer Laura Davis.
"I heard him say, 'You have something here,'" said festival director Joshua Shea. The TV and movie star seemed genuinely affected by the story.
Shea believes the film's story touches everyone who sees it.
"Everyone has ridden a bike," he said. "Everyone knows someone who has had cancer."
The spectacle at the conclusion of the trek is particularly emotional, he said.
Before the festival was over, Dempsey called for a screening at the agency. In early May, the filmmakers went to UTA in Beverly Hills. Three agents and Dempsey's lawyer attended. When they finished the private screening -- held at the agency's posh, state-of-the-art screening room -- the talk went quickly from suggested edits to possible venues and festivals.
The film has since been cut by about 15 minutes to a running time of 93 minutes. Work is ongoing to get the film in the line-up for Toronto, where last year's Academy Award winner, "Argo" premiered.
Tripp believes the support of Dempsey and his agency gives the film dizzying prospects, from a theatrical run to network TV, Internet streaming and on-demand showings.
"This is what they do," Tripp said.
Meanwhile, he and Davis planned to travel to Calgary for a Saturday night showing of the film with many of the riders.
"It doesn't end," he said happily.
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