Image: Hanshi Charlie (CHE)

This year at Melbourne WebFest, we’ve been lucky to encounter extraordinary stories told through the lens of everyday people around the world.  

We spoke with the creators of Hanshi Charlie (CHE), Bastards (DEU) and Stories of Bike (AUS), who helped remind us that life is about doing what you love, and sometimes all it takes are small moments to contribute to the bigger picture.  

For Luis Balzer, director of Hanshi Charlie, it was the crazy anecdotes and stories shared by Swiss-Austrian Jiu Jitsu Grandmaster, Charlie Lenz, that inspired the creation of the documentary.

“When I had my first talk with Charlie, I was certain that I’d found the kind of person I was looking for. After getting to know his story and also meeting him, I realised that Charlie was exactly the kind of person I wanted for my project,” says Balzer.  

“The goal was to tell a universal story through Hanshi Charlie, where everybody can take a message out for him or herself. You don’t need to know anything about martial arts to find something you like.”

Balzer beautifully captures how Charlie’s life is more than just professional martial arts.

“In the end, the series tells a story about life,” says Balzer. “Biting through and always standing up again. Also, about love, dealing with death and about finding a balance in your life.”  

Overcoming obstacles to do what you love is as simple as just taking the first step. As Balzer says, “you need to overcome your doubts if you want to create something big. Just believe in yourself and do it, you’ll be surprised at the outcome if you just leave your worries behind, stop searching for excuses and start creating. Everything else will come, if you internalize this principle and if you work hard.”

Reminding us how influential one’s passion and love can be, Bastards gives us an in-depth look into the world of wrestling and into the lives of two very dedicated young men who put all their heart and soul into the sport.

Following the story of Maggot and Prince Ahura, we learn that these two unique wrestlers have so much more in common than just wrestling.

“Everybody knows a bit about wrestling but only a few people know how it really works,” creator Marco Eisenbarth explains.

“It was never my goal to make a series exclusively for wrestling fans. On the contrary, I wanted to make a series for people who are not familiar with wrestling to explain to them what this strange thing actually is. There is a lot more to wrestling than people in short tights pretending to hit each other in the face.”

And this is evidently shown, with a prominent brotherhood as a recurring theme in the digital series.

“Only after spending a couple of weeks shooting with the guys, I understood how close they really were. Not only just partners in the ring and friends in real life, but brothers. This is something that also defines their in-ring characters and seeing them perform, you can tell that there’s a true connection,” Eisenbarth says.

Eisenbarth’s own personal love of wrestling brought this series to life and pays homage to the weird, wonderful people and activities found in life.  

In creating his series, Eisenbarth was able to turn the original 10-minute documentary into a web series that has over six episodes.  “Don’t be afraid, don’t overthink. I made a ton of mistakes but in the end – it turned out just fine. It almost always does.”

The third season of Stories of Bike shares the importance of finding a true passion in life and presents unique tales from people around the world who share a love of motorcycles.

For Cam Elkins, creator of Stories of Bike, the web series “just kind of happened”. Elkins had been riding motorcycles for about 12 years and decided to try to make his own videos. 5 years and 30 or so short films about motorcycling later, he’s been able to use his series to share the stories of others who also have a passion for cycling.  

“I just find it’s a way to wrap all the things I love together; motorcycles, making beautiful images and telling intriguing stories about everyday folks,” says Elkins.   

Image: Stories of Bike – Season 3

“Sometimes all it takes is the traditional word of mouth to find the right people who want to tell their story.  I’ll go and meet them, have a chat and talk about whether they’d be interested in sharing their story. We each have an important story to tell and those stories are what connect us,”

“Life is hard and full of challenges and motorcycling helps to connect you to some of the best things this hard life has to offer.”  

Most importantly, the series has created a hub for storytelling for many bike-lovers from across the globe. “[What] I love most about the series is that it has affected people and in turn, they share their own stories too,” says Elkins.

“Just make your own films and tell stories. It’s the best way to learn. I learned a lot of mistakes, but most importantly I found my own style and voice along the way”.  

If there is one message that has come from these selections, we’ve learnt that life is just about doing what you love. What do you have to lose?

Get your tickets to Melbourne WebFest 2019 here.

Hanshi Charlie


Stories of Bike