Motocross Films and Cinematic Storytelling: Director Dylan Wineland Shares His Journey

Director Dylan Wineland sheds a different light on the sport of Motocross through his heartwarming cinematic storytelling.

Emotionally-driven stories and thoughtful direction — that’s the secret sauce for Director Dylan Wineland. Affectionately known for his unique artistic style and heartwarming films, Dylan moves viewers through human experiences in a captivating way.

Wineland has traveled the world shooting documentaries for HBO, Redbull, and the Olympics, to name a few. One might attribute his success to mastering the art of “visual storytelling.” 

We met with Dylan to learn about his passion for shooting motorcycle films and the creative process that allows him to tell a colorful and timeless story. 

Musicbed: How did you get into motorcycle films?

Dylan Wineland: It was very organic for me. I grew up racing Motocross since the age of five. When I was in college, I picked up a camera for the first time and began to shoot my younger brother riding his dirt bike. I pretty quickly realized that it was something I was passionate about and wanted to continue to do!

What do you look for when creating one of your films?

Essence. I want to capture the essence of whatever it is we are filming. It’s usually something very particular or abstract and almost unnoticeable, but it affects the outcome of the film drastically. When shooting moto films with Aaron [McClintock], I want to capture the essence of how Aaron feels when he is riding his bike.

What is unique or different about telling stories for the motorcycle community?

I believe that people who are involved in the motorcycle community are unique. It’s almost a different breed of people you could say. There is such an undeniable passion amongst people who ride, which makes for interesting insights and colorful stories to tell. 

You mentioned you hadn’t seen much demand for stories like this within the general Motocross community. Why do you think that is?

This has been one of my biggest questions for years now, and I don’t know if I have the answer to it. In the worlds of skiing, snowboarding, surfing, and mountain biking, for example, there seems to be a demand for artistic representation. But it hasn’t quite been the same with Motocross. I think there have been some amazing stories told in the Motocross community, but on an artistic level, there seems to be a lack of substance. 

What do you hope to change with your films?

I want to shed a different light on the sport of Motocross. I think in general, Motocross has a bit of a stigma to it. To people outside of the sport, they usually think Motocross is dangerous and hardcore. But there is such beauty and art to riding a dirt bike. I believe the sport has an amazing ability to express a lot about an individual — especially in freeriding. Aaron has such an incredible style on the dirt bike and the reason I enjoy shooting with him is because his style is so expressive. It’s quite literally poetry in motion. 

How do you approach scoring and how has it changed over the years?

Finding the right musical score is one of the most challenging parts of the process. I believe the score is very important in setting the tone. And I don’t want to be lazy and just settle for something that is “good enough.” I have to find a song that when played with the video, sends chills throughout your body. That’s usually how I know that it’s the right score to use for the project.  

What is one project you have seen transformed the most from where it began to where it was when it was released?

We worked on a project a few years ago called “A Drifting Up.” We shot in the sand dunes located in the Pacific Northwest and the location was challenging for both of us as cinematographers, and especially for Aaron as a rider. Aaron ended up crashing and breaking his collarbone on the last day of production.

When I began editing, it was just going to be a riding piece without a story or b-roll. It felt so flat and I was really bummed about it. Even though Aaron’s riding was great and the shots were very cool and unique, it was just falling short. 

I ended up spending an evening with Aaron and brought the camera along. We shot a simple scene of him loading his bike and did a quick interview. I went back to post-production with the new content and it completely transformed everything. Suddenly it all felt right and complete. But that would have never happened had Aaron not had his accident. So, it was cool to turn an unfortunate event into a good story for our film. 

What are 3 essential tools you rely on for your creative process?

I love listening to music for sure, going on long bike rides, and having inspiring conversations with others. 

What book do you recommend to every filmmaker?

Without a doubt, “The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Ruben.”

What’s your favorite scene (movie or TV) where music really elevated the moment?

In the movie “Warrior” with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, there is a scene at the end when the brothers have to fight each other in a match. There is so much tension and emotion leading up to that moment and you expect the score to be truly epic. But instead, they used the song “About Today” by The National. It really caught me off guard and shifted my mood immediately. I had this overwhelming feeling of emotion. The song told such a powerful story all on its own, without saying anything at all.

What is a piece of career advice you wish you’d heard sooner?

“This career is not easy. It is so full of ups and downs and insecurities and hardship. You think there will be this magical moment where you ‘make it’ and that’s it. And maybe that moment exists and others have experienced it, but if so, it’s not talked about much. But this is the price you pay to pursue something you really love. Love is not always easy. It’s a practice and it’s a practice worth doing.”

Just for fun!

  • If you had to pick a different career path, what would it be?  A musician
  • What are you watching right now? Succession
  • What are you listening to right now? Fred Again
  • What upcoming movie are you most excited to see this year? Oppenheimer 
  • What’s the last song you listened to? “There is Still Time” by Lorn
  • What’s something you always bring to set? Icebreakers breath mints — they get me through anything!
  • Who’s your dream person to collaborate with? Jon Hopkins

Watch this behind-the-scenes clip of Dylan’s latest motocross passion project, ENSŌ.