Feature documentary to profile cycling legend Phil Liggett

Phil Liggett (l)

Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe are making a feature documentary which chronicles the 50-plus year career of Phil Liggett, the iconic 75-year-old cycling commentator/journalist.

Backed by Demand Film, Phil Liggett: The Voice of Cycling will be filmed at major cycling races in France, starting with the Tour de France next month, and in South Africa, the UK, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The 90-minute film will premiere internationally in October 2020 and will get a traditional cinema release as well as being available on the cinema on-demand platform in February 2021.

Produced by Bird and Sharpe’s Waterbyrd Productions, it’s their follow-up to MAMIL (Middle Aged Men in Lycra!), which was narrated by Liggett and ranks as Demand Film’s most successful title with a global gross of $400,000.

During his 51-year career the Brit has covered 44 Tours de France and 15 Olympic Games. He said: “As we have been filming in secret [for the sizzle reel] at various locations and scanning the archive I was not aware how full my life has been and how privileged I have been to be a part of this wonderful sport and pastime of cycling.

“Demand Film did a great job with MAMIL and I know that they can be trusted to handle my story and share it with the world.”

Bird said: “I remember religiously watching the Tour de France in the 80s as a teenager and always associating Phil’s voice with the most amazing and incredible memories of cycling history.

“Why? Because he was calling them. I can remember being 15 and riding my Cecil Walker to Mt Arapalies from Horsham and doing little sprints. I would pretend Phil was calling the race, which I, of course, was winning.

“How Phil calls races makes him cycling royalty, and after meeting Phil whilst producing MAMIL, Eleanor and I thought a documentary about the history of cycling through Phil’s eyes would make fantastic viewing. Back then we didn’t realize that Phil’s story involves a lot more than cycling, and is far wider and bigger than that first idea and can reach a wider audience.”

Bird will use the 40 per cent Producer Offset and he has secured 30 per cent of the budget from private investors. He aims to raise the balance from federal and state agencies.

Currently operating in eight countries and serving almost 3,000 cinemas, Demand Film aims to raise a seven-figure sum via equity crowdfunding platform to accelerate its global roll-out and ramp up the volume of releases.

Demand Film is releasing Peloton Against Plastic, which follows filmmaker Jamie Lepre and environmental activist Paul Hellier as they embark on a five-week bicycle ride across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to highlight the environmental catastrophe wrought by plastic.

In development is another cycling documentary, Threshold, TIBCO SVB, which follows a women’s professional cycling team based in the US.