Private Project

Why Sturgis?

There are many roads to the world’s most famous motorcycle rally. Find out who paved the way.

Sturgis, South Dakota hosts the world’s oldest and largest motorcycle rally, but it is also rich with American history and American Indian folklore. It also shares history with soldiers, agriculture, and is the birthplace of our National Anthem. “Why Sturgis?” presents an unprecedented look at this Black Hills community, featuring the first complete biography of the town’s namesake, Col. Samuel D. Sturgis (a famous Civil War Brigadier General), as well as the rally’s beginnings, tourism economy, and an opportunity to see this small town of 7,000 residents who annualy hosts 500,000 bikers.

  • Martin Schliessmann
  • Martin Schliessmann
  • Martin Schliessmann, John Brune
  • John Brune
  • John Brune
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Historical, Motorcycle, Travel
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 29 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 1, 2005
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital Video
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Independent Video and Filmmakers Festival
    South Bend, IN
  • Oscar Micheaux Book and Film Festival
    Gregory, SD
  • 65th Annual Black Hills Motorcycle Classic and Sturgis Rally
    Sturgis, SD
  • Thunderbird Film Festival
    Cedar City, UT
  • Tupelo Film Festival
    Tupelo, MS
    Opening Selection, Motorcycle Parade and BBQ Party
  • IMAX Indiana State Museum
    Indianapolis, IN
  • Lotus Petal Cinema
    Nashville, IN
  • Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association 2008 National Conference, Motorcycle Myth & Culture Panel Special Event
    San Francisco, CA
  • Cavalry Days Festival
    Sturgis, SD
  • Earth House Film Series
    Indianapolis, IN
  • Steel Ponies Exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
    Indianapolis, IN
Director Biography - Martin Schliessmann

Martin is a founding partner in Escape Route Flix, LLC. As Writer, Director and Producer, his function is to research material, write and storyboard the process, produce funding and market final product.

Martin has over 25 years of professional experience in advertising, design, marketing, special promotions and video production. He excels in taking projects from initial concept to final product delivery—in various print, direct mail and multi-media projects.

A Media Consultant since 1994, Martin is also Marketing Designer for UnitedHealthcare/Golden Rule Insurance Company. Through client projects, volunteering and documentary creation/marketing, he is focused on all aspects of tourism promotion. Further experience in: (a) managing art departments for advertising/marketing/p.r. companies; (b) building up and mentoring an in-house art department for a national corporation; and (c) leading and programming local chapter of a national, non-profit industry organization.

Martin resides in San Diego, CA.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"Why Sturgis?” was entirely self-produced by Escape Route Flix. What began as a road trip to find a funky side to a motorcycle rally turned into the first historic spotlight on this Black Hills community. Throughout the years, the documentary took shape to finally focus upon the key elements that made this successful documentary.

We juggled topic matters and focused on 3 items: History of the town, history of the rally, and overall tourism economy. When we discovered no one had previously created a full biography on the interesting life of town founder Col. Samuel D. Sturgis, we refocused our documentary to make that the defining “umbrella” to tie-in all the other aspects.

Working with limited budget meant making the best of what we had, as well as the available resources out there. We worked with many locations, foundations and private individuals to be granted special facilities’ usage for location filming and research. Permissions, licensing music and historic images were obtained through various collections, associations, companies, and individuals.