Taking the High Road: Q&A with Filmmakers Lindsey Hagen and Colin Keaveney
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
High Road celebrates the unbreakable bond between Paralympian Meg Fisher and Jack Berry, a young para-athlete who's cycling career is just beginning to unfold. Together the two navigate life's obstacles with grace and integrity, creating space for the next generation of paracyclists. The short film comes from cycling industry innovator Cannondale in partnership with purpose-driven brand story studio Gnarlybay and is supported by Outride, a nonprofit intent on improving the lives of youth through cycling.
Brand Storytelling caught up with the short film's director Lindsey Hagen and Cannondale Global Marketing Manager Colin Keaveney to learn more about how Meg Fisher's infectious spirit and drive motivated the making of a film and what it means to amplify the work in focus in High Road:
Where does the story of High Road begin? With the filmmaker, the brand, or the non-profit? How did it all come together?
Lindsey Hagen: High Road came to be by means of a friendship forged between Colin Keaveney, Cannondale’s global road manager and recently signed Cannondale sponsored athlete Meg Fisher. Upon hearing the breadth of Meg’s advocacy work and understanding the current state of para-athlete involvement within the road and gravel categories Colin enlisted my help alongside production partner Gnarlybay studios to share a timely advocacy story meant to create awareness, shift culture and change policy within gravel and road cycling events to create space for para-athletes. I worked closely with Meg and Jack’s parents to craft the story and Cannondale created the space to explore a story approach that was most timely and relevant to Meg and Jack’s experience. In an effort to create more impact Meg enlisted the help of her sponsor “Outride” a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth through cycling. The production came together as a co-branded film, sponsored by Cannondale as presenting sponsor and Outride as supporting sponsor.
Colin Keaveney: The story as told can be traced back to a Saturday afternoon phone call in the middle of winter. Meg and I had been exchanging messages, but it was that two hour conversation which really set things in motion. What’s remarkable about Meg is that her accomplishments are actually the last thing she talks about. It was clear how she always put others first as she immediately shared Jack’s story. She was full of admiration, and incredibly genuine.
After that call I was immediately in touch with Lindsey. I knew this was an important story to tell and given Lindsey’s background in adaptive sports, I trusted she would have the right approach and care for the project.
There’s a lot more to it, but this project had all of the fundamentals to be great from the beginning.
What is it about the story of these two people that create overlap between the filmmakers at Gnarly Bay, Cannondale, and Outride?
LH: Each party really came at this story with our own specialty and background. Colin has his finger on the pulse of the road and gravel cycling industry and policy around para-athletes involvement in this vertical. I came from a background working in adaptive sports before I was a filmmaker with a speciality in nuanced impact storytelling and Tasha Tinagero of Outride brought the youth empowerment chops and the competitive edge as a seasoned athlete.
While we could never truly understand Meg and Jack’s lived experiences we each brought an empathic approach and willingness to showcase their story as we all saw the potential their story held for dramatic change and progressive thought leadership within the cycling industry. The making of the film was done in an effort to reflect their tremendous strength and perseverance and reflect that outwards as a tool to empower and uplift para-athletes, the cycling community at large and really anyone facing challenging circumstances. It is also meant to help shift thought patterns around accessibility and inclusivity within a very dated and traditional industry.
CK: Meg has an infectious enthusiasm for just about everything she’s involved in. From the very beginning, her story was always one that needed to be told. But the way she lives out her passion for helping others, day in and day out, is what really anchors her character. Impressive as her work making paracycling categories on the national and internat