Get ready to be inspired by the incredible Krista Verhiel, the founder of Della Crew apparel, a motorcycle stunt rider, and now, a film Producer! As part of the 2023 International Female Ride Day, Krista assembled her first film, Looking for Trouble. Through a cast of all-female Harley-Davidson stunt riders (a first), the film pays tribute to women pioneers in motorcycling, who have broken barriers and paved the way for future generations of female riders.
We asked Krista ten questions about her experience and motivation for producing her first film, and she shares her insights on breaking boundaries, chasing dreams, and embracing female empowerment.
Here's what Krista had to say.
Tell us about your journey with the Della Crew apparel brand and what brought you to take on your first film project.
I wanted to showcase the talent and incredible women I had been so fortunate to meet on my travels over the last couple of years. The vibe and energy these women give off once you get to know them needed to be shared. I knew that it hadn’t been done before and I am always intrigued by doing something for the first time!
How does the film aim to inspire and empower women through its portrayal of female motorcycle stunt riders?
My hope is that this film will inspire other women to start or continue their motorcycle journey. Having representation is so important and when you can identify with someone doing what you want to do it makes it possible for you. Something clicks inside the mind and when you think you can, then you can.
Can you share any personal experiences that have shaped your perspective on female empowerment in the motorcycle community?
I started riding motorcycles for the first time at 33 years old after a dramatic lifestyle change and it quite literally saved my life. The community is unlike anything else in the world and all the feelings you get when riding: of being powerful, proud, and strong translate into other parts of your life. It’s been life-changing for me and I wanted to give as many women that gift as I possibly could.
What was the process like for selecting the riders to be featured in the film, and what unique qualities did each bring to the project?
I chose the women through authentic friendships. These are the people I connected with the most during visits to the USA and spoke to on Instagram. I felt they shared some of my same sentiments around riding and that our message to others was aligned.
Working with a male director, James Baker, how did you ensure that he was able to capture the authentic female perspective and experience?
James is well-connected in the motorcycle industry and has many female riding friends. I feel he started off with an understanding of where we were coming from. We did a lot of talking before the project started and if nothing else I had a few very clear concepts and feelings around what I wanted to portray. Raquel Dombowsky was an integral part of creating as well, and we all worked closely together to ensure the message and feeling the film delivered was exactly as planned.
What were some of the most memorable moments or challenges you faced during the filming process?
The first thing that comes to mind is that when we arrived in California the main stunt lot to film in had been covered with mud, about 2 ft of it, from a landslide. It was the reason I chose that location and my husband instantly got to work fixing it. We rented a bobcat and street sweeper, whom Blackbridge Harley-Davidson paid for and offered their support around immediately to make sure this happened, and my husband cleared the lot which took him just over 12 hours.
However, on the other side of the coin, there were many moments when 5–7 women were out stunting side by side during production and I remember looking around in awe. There are so few women doing this that I have never rode with this many at once and it was a first for all of us. We are used to being the one woman in a lot full of men, so that was so powerful to be together and the energy was incredible!
What was your favourite part of working on this film, and what did you learn from the experience?
This was the first time I have ever taken on anything like this before and while I am truly proud of the final product the road to get here was not easy. I learnt a lot about myself, the planning process, expectations, how I could do things differently and have a new respect for filmmakers. Without a doubt, my favourite part of making this film was strengthening my friendships with these women who I spent those four days with, and thriving with a group of powerful, confident women who share my views on collaboration, over competition, to the core.
What do you hope women, both riders and non-riders, will take away from watching your film? What about male viewers? What do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I want people to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. Believing in yourself is the most powerful tool, and once you accomplish something seemingly impossible like riding a motorcycle, wheelies, or filming a movie, then you can take that experience as evidence that 'you can' and apply it to all areas of your life. Being limitless is an incredible feeling and when your potential is unlocked, you live the life you were meant to live.
What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their passions, whether in motorcycle riding or other traditionally male-dominated fields?
Surround yourself with women you admire for doing so. I have managed to create some incredible friendships online with people like Rae Ripple who I wholeheartedly admire for excelling in a male dominated field, thriving in her welding career, and multitude of other talents she has. She encouraged and coached me through my doubts at the beginning of this and was able to share with me that she felt the same and to keep going. Having someone who is doing what you wish to do tell you that you're capable can give you that extra push you need to get through the fear and start your dreams.
Are there any plans for future projects that continue to explore and celebrate the theme of female empowerment in other sports or industries?
I think I will be sticking to motorcycle-based stories but I would like to do this again. There are so many types of inspiring females on motorcycles, long-distance moto-campers, flat track racers, chopper builders, and off-road racing – there's a whole world I know nothing about and I would be honoured to give the women who are crushing those areas a spotlight, and a chance for everyone to learn why they do what they do, and how it makes them feel.
WATCH LOOKING FOR TROUBLE
Looking for Trouble is streaming online at TMFF Cinema and is free to watch.
MEET THE RIDERS
LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE PIONEERING MOTORCYCLISTS
Della Crewe completed one of the most expansive motorcycle journeys of her time.
Beryl Swain was the first woman to compete in the Isle of Man race.
Debbie Evans is one of the most credited stunt riders in Hollywood.
Debbie Lawler broke Evel Knievel’s record, jumping 16 Chevy trucks.
Bessie Stringfield was the first woman of colour to ride across the USA.
Lillian La France was the first woman to ride the wall of death.
The Motobirds were the first all-female stunt group.