Don Riders is a film directed and produced by Diane Stevens of Pixel Dust Productions in collaboration with Juan Pablo Montalvo, a graduate of Santa Barbara High. The documentary narrates the formation and success of Santa Barbara High School’s Lowrider Bike Club, the Don Riders. The club builds, customizes, and displays handcrafted lowrider bikes brimming with flair and reflecting the personal pride of their owners. With interviews from both founding and current members, as well as faculty and advisors, the film gives an overview of the origins and activities of the club. It also investigates the aesthetic qualities of lowrider bikes and addresses the stereotypes associated with lowriders and Chicano/a culture.
The Don Riders’ faculty advisor, Pedro Menchaca, originally started the club as an after-school activity for troubled boys, but success brought rapid expansion and the club now boasts many members, including female students. To accommodate the number of girls joining the club, Alejandra Gutierrez was asked to mentor as the Don Rider’s co-advisor.
The film is set to a score produced and performed by members of the Don Riders under the direction of musical directors Mark Orlando and Kenyon Williams, who also volunteer with the Music Box program at the Twelve35 Teen Center as part of a program run by the Notes for Notes Foundation. As Stevens put it, she had no idea how many hours of quality footage she had caught until she finally began to edit it together. What she ended up with was a hopeful tale about finding constructive alternatives for youths and providing second chances to kids that society is often too quick to judge.