Albuquerque filmmaker’s debut reaps accolades

Documentary returns for New Mexico showing after winning film award in Italy

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—As a movie and television art director based in New Mexico, Steven Maes created the iconic Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul designs known worldwide — the famous BB logo, the look of Pollos Hermanos and A-1 Car Wash — developing a long list of high-profile IMDB credits. But after 15 years in the business, the self-proclaimed “project junkie” took the leading role by writing and directing a passion-project film while juggling an already overloaded movie production schedule. 

“I was looking for a story of my own to tell,” says Maes. “I’ve been a huge motorcycle fan since I was a kid, and have always been drawn to their history in America. I was passionate about that culture and wanted to focus on the community and family aspect.”

Five years later, Maes’ finally finished his full-length documentary, an examination of the impact of the cafe racer and custom motorcycle culture. “Caffeine and Gasoline: Evolution of the American Rocker” debuted last fall at the 2019 Albuquerque Film and Music Experience festival, where it garnered the Best New Mexico Film award. In November, the film traveled to Italy for the MotoTematica Rome Motorcycle Film Festival, where it won Best Documentary. 

In addition to awards, Maes’ debut has reaped accolades from celebrated film industry figures, such as Emmy Award-winning editor Paul Barnes (“The War,” “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson”), who described the film as “filled with great characters, wonderful eccentrics, fabulous obsessives” and “very beautiful.” Academy Award-winning producer Chris Donahue (“Little Women,” “Longmire”) said it was “an incredibly well-produced documentary on a fascinating subject. I was hooked from the beginning, and was left wanting more.”

“The overwhelming feedback from around the world has been inspiring,” Maes said about the praise his film has received from audiences and industry.

The film begins with a history lesson. Beginning in 1960’s East London and the legendary ’59 Club, thrill-seeking cafe racers and the “Rocker” movement originally drew from American music and fashion to create their own brand of rebellion and counter-culture with a British flair, racing their stripped and self-modified bikes in hopes of topping 100 mph, a significant feat in those days. “Caffeine and Gasoline” explores the gritty allure of the Rocker culture and how it transformed as it migrated from the United Kingdom to the United States, converting millions of young suburbanites into backroad-prowling fanatics obsessed with making their motorcycles run faster. 

Maes and his crew spent five years documenting vintage bike enthusiasts, custom bike builders and cafe racer clubs around the United States and England, also interviewing clubs in Japan and Mexico. The film features appearances from familiar faces, such as actress Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica,” “24,” “Longmire”), and local motorcycle builders and enthusiasts. Despite differences in their ages, fame or geography, all appearing in the film emphasize a shared passion for a snarling speed racer ⁠— sometimes mere moments after the two-wheeled machine was put together in a greasy garage or driveway.

The film returns to New Mexico in February as an official selection of the 2020 Santa Fe Film Festival. “Caffeine and Gasoline: Evolution of the American Rocker” will be shown Sunday, February 16 at 4:00 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts at 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe. 

As far as additional showings, Maes is in talks with potential distributors.

About Steven Maes
Caffeine and Gasoline director/writer Steven Maes is an award-winning art director, graphic artist and audio producer. Having directed music videos and television commercials for a number of years, he turned his creative sights on documentary film production. He is an Art Director’s Guild Award winner, and has designed iconic images for Emmy Award-winning productions including Breaking Bad, Secrets in the Walls, The Bling Ring, and the Academy Award nominated film In The Valley of Elah. His prop objects for the SyFy Channel hit mini-series The Lost Room have gained a cult following and spawned replica designs. Steven is a member of the Art Director’s Guild Local 800 Los Angeles and holds a Bachelor in Media Art and Communications from the University of New Mexico.

About Santa Fe Film Festival
A five-day celebration of the best in cinematic arts, the 19th annual Santa Fe Film Festival will run February 12th- 16th, 2020 with a program of over 40 film screenings, panels, juried awards, workshops and parties. The special setting of the festival in the unique and historic City of Santa Fe allows filmmakers, journalists, industry leaders and audiences from around the world to gather together in celebration of film. 

Caffeine & Gasoline trailer on Vimeo

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