Finlay Pretsell – The Filmmaker

He’s a Producer.  He’s a Director. He’s a BAFTA award-winning Filmmaker.  He rode Mountain Bike for Scotland. He stood on the podium in National Cyclocross.  His award-winning short films span a myriad of diverse and fascinating subjects; Track Cyclist’s, Bench Press Champions, Prison hairdressers and Ballet slipper makers to name a few.   Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, the incredibly talented – Finlay Pretsell.
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Grab your Popcorn, Nachos with plastic cheese, Plant pot Cola cup or alternatively, treat yourself to something a little stronger and enjoy our chat with Finlay.
We discuss his passion for cycling, movies and filmmaking process. Including his latest critically acclaimed feature cinema release  ‘Time Trial’. Featuring former Tour De France stage winner, Maillot Jaune holder and Scottish Cycling Legend David Millar

BCR: What was your history in cycling before your filmmaking career took hold?

FP: I started out at Dunedin CC just as Craig Maclean and Chris Hoy moved to Manchester and I eventually rode for Scotland on the mountain bike – the highlight was a few good results up and down the country and a bronze in the Scottish Cyclo-cross champs. I did ride the cross country World Cup in Fort William which was a huge learning curve soon realised I was nowhere near the top of the world’s best riders! That was more or less the end of ‘the dream’ for me.

BCR: Was this link with Dunedin CC the segway and genesis of your first cycling movie ‘STANDING START’, if so how did the idea/concept come about?

 FP: Yes, it was a good link initially and a way in with Craig and I’d happened to bump into him and Chris Hoy in Edinburgh when the film was just an idea and it spurred me on.

I did ride the cross country World Cup in Fort William which was a huge learning curve soon realised I was nowhere near the top of the world’s best riders! That was more or less the end of ‘the dream’ for me.

BCR: When did you last get out for a ride and where did you go?

FP:  On Thursday I went a quick ride with my old friend Jonathan McBain of Pedal Power Cycles for a quick ride round Dunkeld. It’s beautiful up there!

BCR: What bike(s) are you currently riding?

FP: Unfortunately I don’t have really great bikes! I would love to have something super special one day. They mostly work though and I still love to ride – folk are obsessed with kit and numbers these days but I like to just get out there! I have a Cannondale road bike and Giant mountain bike.

BCR:   Do you like to take photo’s when out and about?

FP: Don’t really take many pics when I’m on my bike – I try to forget my phone but I was pretty chuffed to see Adam Blythe wearing a Time Trial t-shirt at the TDF this year!  Also this was a pic with some old boys in France from the Summer – I rode a few km’s with them. I love these proper old school riders.

BCR: When and why did you first get into moviemaking?

FP: I volunteered for the Scottish Documentary Institute until they gave me a proper job! I then discovered film in a much deeper way and found out that I could do it…

Ultimately you want to take an audience on a journey and create a world they don’t have access to

BCR: Excluding commercial success, what is the goal or aim of each movie project, or do they widely differ dependant on the subject matter.

FP: Ultimately you want to take an audience on a journey and create a world they don’t have access to. But making films like Time Trial takes so much out of you, I’ve been carrying it around for so many years and it isn’t like someone came to me and said “here’s some money to make a film on David Millar”, it starts off as a tiny thought and grows and grows over a long time and eventually turns into the film you see today. I want as many people outside the cycling world to watch it for them to see what it takes and means to experience the race like David did.

BCR: Where in the movie-making process are you creatively at your happiest and why?

FP: I think the idea stage is the most exciting – when there are endless possibilities in front of you ready for the taking. It’s when money and the plethora of other restrictions come into play that it becomes more realistic. Having said that there are points all along the way that are magical, whether on the shoot or in the edit and something just works just like you’d imagined or even better than you’d imagine!

BCR: Do you have a recent example of such a moment?

FP: I think for me the time trial scene at the start of the film was a culmination of all the work and research prior to shooting all came to fruition, it’s when all the elements come together and it all just works – the speed, the elegance and pure cinematic experience worked (and this was at the end of a long very expensive week of shooting in Italy!).

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The team behind Time Trial after a very long and wet Milan San Remo
★★★★  ★★★★★     ★★★★    ★★★★
Total Film  Eye For Film  The Herald  Scotsman

BCR: In your career what has been your favourite failure or mistake you have made and why?

FP: I don’t think I can pinpoint anything like that. I’ve made hundreds of decisions while making films and things some haven’t worked out like I’d hoped but other things have which to me is a far more interesting path than to constantly play it safe.

BCR: Why choose David Millar as the subject of Time Trial?

FP: I knew all about him, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and once we’d met I knew that he would do his very best to help me make this film and realise my vision. He’s also quite uniquely elegant on a bike.

BCR: Definitely, in the hypnotising opening TIME TRIAL scene we were in awe of his form and style on the bike.  Did you ever get the opportunity to go out riding with David Millar pre, during or post-production of Time Trial?

FP: When David invited me to meet with him in Girona I asked him ‘I’d like to come out riding with you to get an idea of what it was like to ride with professional cyclists – to see what you do day in day out, not just at the races’. However, on arrival to Girona a throat infection took hold and I could hardly string a sentence together let alone ride a bike with people who were vastly superior to me. David wouldn’t let me get out of it because he’d set this up especially! So I took some paracetamol threw my leg over that bike and got on with it. It was horrible.

BCR: In ‘Time Trial’ the ‘sound’s’ of the race you rarely get to hear; The wheels on the road,  the breathing, the gear changes, the groans and rider banter was incredible.  In particular, we massively enjoyed the use of sound design and composition to entrain and immerse the viewer in the experience. What involvement did you have with composer Dan Deacon in influencing the musical direction of the movie?

FP: He was a huge part of the film! He let rip and did a great job I think. As did CJ Mirra with the sound design he created – such immersion. Both are so inspiring to work with.

BCR: What are you looking to achieve when you begin a new movie project?

FP: To create something unique that will stand the test of time.

BCR: We can understand that Time Trial has been all-consuming over the last few years, but what other projects are in the pipeline or stirring the creative juices?

FP: A couple of projects are about to kick off but unfortunately I can’t really talk about them at the moment – but I’m getting super excited!

BCR: Well keep a lookout then. As a fan what is your favourite cycling movie?

FP: Jorgen Leth’s films and I love this short by Louis Malle called Vive le Tour.

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BCR: We recently saw a post on Social Media featuring Jorgen Leth, David Millar and yourself at a film screening.  It must have been great meeting the filmmaking legend! Did he enjoy the movie?

FP: He actually called my film a masterpiece, which was a massive honour!

BCR: And finally One book, one album and favourite bike ride ever?

FP: Book: Vernon God Little, Album: I’m listening a lot to Fad Gadget at the moment! Favourite Bike Ride: A long summer bike ride in the South of France where time disappears.

We would like to offer a huge chapeau to Finlay for taking time out of his very busy ‘ TIME TRIAL’ promotional schedule to answer our questions and give us a unique insight into his cycling passion and creative life works. 
Next week we will have a movie review of Time Trial
If you want to find out more about Finlay and his creations CLICK HERE
Happy Rolling
Daz & Craig
BCR Cafe shoot-14
★★★★  ★★★★★     ★★★★    ★★★★
Total Film  Eye For Film  The Herald  Scotsman
Time Trial is available for community screenings or download. Go to for details.

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On and Offline peloton for the curious and creative types that are drawn to cycling like a deodorant can to a village bonfire

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