Las Vegas Valley-based filmmaker taking biker documentary to Cannes

If anyone Cannes, Tom Rennen Cannes.

The documentary "The Gathering: Code of the West," which was filmed and produced by the Summerlin-area resident, will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

The prestigious festival is slated for May 11- 22 in Cannes, France .

Rennen said it would be great to win but just having the film accepted was honor enough, as Cannes sees thousands of entries and screens only about 40 at the festival.

"I’m finally being judged by my peers," he said.

His film follows die-hard American motorcycle enthusiasts and looks into their lifestyle and the appeal of the open road. Rennen rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and traveled the country to be part of the allure and to better understand the mind-set, which he likened to the way cowboys saw and lived life.

His film runs an hour and 15 minutes and includes "Easy Rider" star Peter Fonda , who is an avid bike r and takes a fishing pole wherever he goes. Also in the film are Robbie Knievel, Evel Knievel’s son; and Willie G. Davidson, grandson of William A. Davidson, the original founder and senior vice president and chief styling officer of the Harley-Davidson Motor Co .

Rennen entered it on a whim. Although he could have entered "The Gathering" in the festival’s lesser, no-budget documentary category — the film cost $25,000 to make — he opted to have it judged against films financed by million-dollar budgets. It also is up against films made with a team of talent.

In contrast "The Gathering" has only one name — his — listed prominently in the credits.

"I was everything — the producer, the director, the editor, the janitor, the gardener, the Avon lady," he joked.

The film took three years to make and necessitated attending events where motorcycle riders from across the country gathered together. Sometimes it was a scramble to shoot as much footage as he needed.

"If you didn’t get what you wanted, you had to wait a whole year for it to happen again," Rennen said.

One of the events was the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota. The annual event sees as many as 500,000 attendees.

He took the raw footage with him to South America, where he worked on various projects for Hasbro Entertainment. In his free time, he edited "The Gathering," decided he didn’t like how it turned out, reworked it and polished it further.

Rennen has the chops to back up his film making. He has worn many hats, including animator, computer special effects designer, videographer and sound technician. His background is in both marketing and television. It hasn’t all been glamorous, especially in the early days.

"I was working with Dan Rather in Waco on the David Koresh thing, and we slept in the field with the cows," he said. "Anything could happen at any minute, so everyone was afraid to leave for fear of missing something. Looking back, I laugh my head off, but at the time I was thinking, ‘Man, they aren’t paying me enough for this.’ "

One of the most fun was the "Mysteries of the Americas," originally produced for the History Channel. It was shot in South America, where his fluency with Spanish came in handy. Because he’s hired as a free agent, Rennen lives by his own golden rule — giving clients more than they paid for.

Mark Harris, managing partner of H3 Media, has known Rennen for about 15 years.

"He always delivered exceptionally creative work by the deadline and often with a few extra versions that he felt might be better for the project," he said. "He obviously spent a lot of time on each project."

Joshua Izzo worked with Rennen on a Hasbro Entertainment project in 2006.

"I was neck-deep in a project with a failing vendor when Tom came to the rescue," he said. "We were up against some incredible deadlines, and Tom worked both professionally and politically to save the time line and the entire project."

Rennen has a screenplay to his credit, "Splinter," with two others in the works. He also authored video training courses for the visual communications industry and most recently created an online master course, "Digital Film Making in the 21st Century."

Although his life revolves around film and video work, he does not own a television set.

"Why would I want to watch TV?" he asked . "That’s the last thing I want to do after working at it all day."

For more information about Rennen’s projects, visit tomrennen.com.

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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