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Bike Vessel

Bike Vessel follows a father and son, 37 and 72, as they cycle from St. Louis to Chicago. Film director Eric Seals’ father almost died after three open-heart surgeries. However, after 20 years, he makes a miraculous health recovery after discovering his love for bicycling, bringing his son Eric along with him.

  • Eric D Seals
    Director
    The Takeover, Tulsa Burning
  • Resita H Cox
    Producer
    Freedom Hill
  • Donnie L Seals Jr.
    Producer
  • Cai Thomas
    Cinematographer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    65,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Eric D Seals

Eric D. Seals is a seasoned film director and cinematographer with 10+ years of experience creating and managing feature films, television, and digital content series.

He holds a Bachelor's degree from Murray State University with concentrations in Electronic Media and Business Administration. Eric started his career at ESPN, where he worked as a video editor working on shots such as Sportscenter, Mike and Mike, and First Take. In 2020, he was selected as a Diverse Voices in Documentaries Fellow with Kartemquin Films, and in 2021 he was selected as a Netflix Directing and Producing Fellow. Eric enjoys giving back to the film community by facilitating workshops and has recently become an Adjunct Professor at Depaul University, teaching a course in Sports Documentary Production.

He is the founder and creative director of Digifé, a full-service film production company that focuses on documentaries and social impact stories. Eric and Digife have netted numerous awards, produced a number of commercials and TV shows, and developed various content for different brands.

Eric is developing his fourth film, Bike Vessel, which tells the story of Eric’s dad, Donnie Seals Sr., defying health statistics after having three open-heart surgeries and renewing his lease on life through cycling. It examines health disparities among Black men in America, the group with the lowest life expectancy and highest death rate of any other racial and ethnic group.

For more information on Eric, visit his website at ericdseals.com

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Director Statement

When I started filming what is now Bike Vessel, it was nothing more than capturing some home video. My father, Donnie, challenged my wife to a game of tennis, and within less than an hour, we realized he was outmatched and out of shape. The day wasn't unique, and there was no further plan to create a story or even make a film. I was simply recording my family on my phone. But when I would playback the footage for my dad, something miraculous would take place.

I’d never forget that moment. While he doesn’t easily show his emotions, I could see the shame and anger that overtook him as he watched. It was at this moment that he realized just how out of shape he had grown—and what that meant for his life. The next day, he purchased a bike and was determined to make a change. My dad had already had three, quadruple heart bypass surgeries, but it was seeing himself perform so poorly on the court that ignited the desire for change. That is the power of film.

I decided to film his progress over the next few months because, prior to the tennis match with my wife, we had never discussed his health issues and with each story he shared, I wanted to know more, go deeper. This film became the catalyst for a new stage of my relationship with my dad, one filled with never-before-had conversations, and ultimately, deeper connection. The more we filmed, the more I realized his cautionary tales were more than reflections—he was giving me the blueprint to a healthy, long life. I created this film to share this blueprint with the rest of my community, especially with other Black men because we also deserve to grow old. I want them to witness the power of determination, support, exercise and love.