Production on HELL RIDE began in May of 2007. True to Bishop's AIP ventures, the HELL RIDE was filmed in the scorching California desert heat over a very brief twenty days. Tarantino felt that the film's budget should mirror what was available in the early days of the motorcycle film. He believed that monetary limitations would only enhance its biker movie authenticity. "It was Quentin's idea," Steinberg explains. "He wanted to make it for a price that it was a good financial deal. He wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. If you adjust for inflation, we probably had about the same amount as producers of the first wave of biker films."
"We could have done Larry's script for twice the budget. Being a fan of low budget movies, Quentin wanted us to do it super low budget, the way they used to do them. We were shooting an unbelievable amount of footage every day," Stein says.
Unfortunately, the high desert greeted the production with a wind storm that severely hampered their first week of filming. Nevertheless, the producers managed to keep the production on time and on budget, despite some obstacles imposed by Mother Nature.
"There were sixty mile per hour gusts," Steinberg recalls. "It was about 105 degrees. We were exposed to the elements. It was absolutely brutal, but nobody complained. When you're only shooting for twenty days, you get through the first week and you're a quarter done. It was also a nice bonding experience."
"We had one crew member say he worked in worse conditions, and that was in a mine in Illinois in February," Stein adds.
Justin Kell, who runs a vintage motorcycle shop called Glory, was approached by Steinberg early in the process to be a technical advisor on the film. He supplied many of the bikes in the movie, and trained Balfour. "He specializes in vintage motorcycles. He built the motorcycles and taught Eric Balfour how to ride."
Balfour, for one, had no prior experience riding a motorcycle. He also had the task of riding the most complicated vehicle, a 40s-era "Indian." When he wasn't taking a crash course in the biker cinema of the 60s and 70s, Balfour was learning how to ride his motorcycle in Griffith Park and on the streets of Los Angeles neighborhoods. "The bike had complicated mechanisms.
Fortunately for me I didn't know any better. I was just kind of dumb. It took some getting used to. Eventually I just really got comfortable on the bike."
Balfour's dedication impressed Madsen: "An Indian is a goofy bike because everything is on the wrong side. The throttle is on the left, and it has a foot clutch. It's tricky to ride one of those damn things. And you know what? He did it, and he's riding it, and that's not an easy thing to do. I'm really proud of him. I'm really happy that he's in the picture."
Madsen notes that the experience of acting on a bike made his usual trepidations subside: "Being an actor is a very neurotic thing to do for a living. Trying to sit at a table and do dialogue scenes is not fun. But if you can get on a Harley and ride around behind a camera truck, that's when my job is fun."
Bikes aside, the cast is quick to praise their director's sensitivity to the actor's process. He's an actor so he knows how to talk to actors," Jones says of Bishop. "He takes an emotional path into what's going on. He thinks in metaphors and images."
The production brought in veteran bikers to portray the "extras" in the film. "We got some great background guys," Madsen enthuses. "A couple of those guys ran with some pretty good gangs. They're not bogus background people--they're bikers. It's really good to have them in the movie. They've done a heck of a job."