Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes – sometimes that shape and size is a seven-year-old girl who likes to ride bikes. When director Roberto Nascimento approached us with the story of a stoic seven-year-old BMX enthusiast, we had to go along for the ride.
Year 4 student Madeleine “Mad” Hunter comes from a long line of BMX riders. Her grandfather, Bruce, still rides the dirt track for fun – though he admits its getting harder with age. Madeleine’s mother, Kim, a former rider, now spends races cheering her daughter on from the sidelines… or the bushes. Superstition runs in the family, and Kim will do anything if she thinks it’ll help Mad in a race – including standing in the odd “lucky” spot. Despite her family’s quirks, Madeleine remains calm, preferring to let actions speak for themselves.
Ranked 6th in her age group nationwide prior to the filming of this documentary, Madeleine has always pushed herself to succeed. Frequently racing against older, bigger, and stronger male riders, she relishes the opportunity to challenge herself and improve her game. Madeleine likes to win, and with Nationals right around the corner, that is exactly what she intends to do. However, there is only one top spot – and success is far from guaranteed.
Capturing Madeleine’s journey was no small task. Reality offers no blueprint for narrative, no guaranteed outcome or arc. We were story-hunting – doing our best to shoot from the hip as Madeleine’s journey unfolded in real-time before us. We filmed races, practice sessions, time with the family – anything and everything that might provide an insight into Madeleine’s life, and help us to piece the puzzle together. When shooting wrapped, we had captured hours upon hours of footage – the raw material that would need to be mined for content. With a seemingly endless number of angles to explore, we had to narrow our focus.
When we reviewed the footage, it became increasingly clear that the sport itself was largely irrelevant to the story we were trying to tell. The film is not about BMX, or nationals, or even bikes really. Instead, at its heart, Mad Hunter is about family. It’s an exploration of that collective bundle of quirks and competing personalities that somehow just works. Each generation brings their own unique perspective to the sport, but together they’re a team – each an essential part of some bigger whole. Madeleine could have raced kayaks, played darts, or even been a competitive lawn bowler – but in the end, the film is about the special relationship she shares with those closest to her, and the passion that unites them. Mad Hunter is a testament to the value of family, no matter how ‘mad’ they might be.
Mad Hunter is the second short documentaries we’ve produced in partnership with director Roberto Nascimento and The Wireless for Season One of Wireless Docs. If you’re interested in our previous submission, you can read more about Medulla Oblongata here.