Wishing you all a very warm and happy holiday. It's been an exciting past few months, with editing on the film continuing, music starting to come in from our composers, graphics being built, and some recent digitizing of newly discovered, never before seen, archival footage!  As a little present to you all, here's a sneak peak - you are literally among the first to ever see this 50-year-old film footage. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to giving you some new updates in the new year. View the video here:

Wishing you all a very warm and happy holiday. It's been an exciting past few months, with editing on the film continuing, music starting to come in from our composers, graphics being built, and some recent digitizing of newly discovered, never before seen, archival footage!  As a little present to you all, here's a sneak peak - you are literally among the first to ever see this 50 year film footage. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to giving you some new updates in the new year.


In memoriam

We are very sorry to be the bearer of sad news, but Alfred Hobbs passed away late last week, at the age of 84. True to form, he had just returned to Taos from 6 months away traveling the world (again), and as all his friends well know, that is what made Alfred feel most alive. The world was indeed his oyster.

The film will go on, and now with even more conviction to honour Alfred and tell his amazing life story.

A memorial service happened Saturday, 28th August near his home in Taos, New Mexico. Any words in his honour can be sent to us here via the website, and we will pass them along. He will be dearly missed.

A thoughtful article appeared in the Taos News, and can be read here.

Driven in The Independent

Hello everyone - it's been a few weeks since our last post, and we have a couple of exciting bits of news for you.

Firstly, Driven (formerly Alfred & Jakobine) had some good mention in the UK's The Independent newspaper yesterday. Our producer Rob Fletcher was quoted in an article that discusses 'crowd funding' as a very new approach for indie film financing. Driven's "buy-a-mile" program was mentioned along side a new doc about David Lynch and a Ridley Scott project, so we're in very good company. You can read the article below, or on the Independent's website here. Well done Rob.

Next, we are very pleased to announce that our editor, Alan MacKay has completed a wonderful, 28 minute "cross section" of the film, which we'll be putting in front of television commissioners, distributors and other funders to assist with our 'finishing budget'. We're hopeful that with this edit, which presents the look and feel of the full film, we'll impress all with the richness and breadth of the story. A couple of months back, Driven's new trailer was shown around Cannes, and many of those who saw it are eager to see the new 28 minute edit.

Lastly, we wanted to thank all of you again who have already supported the film by 'buying-a-mile'. Your t-shirts are now rare collector's items, since the film was renamed from Alfred & Jakobine to Driven. Your A&J t-shirts are the only ones in existence - an artifact from the evolution of this film project. Please encourage your friends to consider supporting us - we still have a long way to go. Speak to you all again very soon with more updates.

Alfred & Jakobine is "Driven"

Well, after many (many) development years with our film "temporarily" being entitled Alfred & Jakobine, we have finally renamed it!. Are you sitting down? Alfred & Jakobine is now called Driven!

We're very pleased that this title has multiple meanings, some more obvious and some more buried. We hope when you all finally see the film, you will agree this title is entirely appropriate. Please let us know your reactions.

Stay tuned for our brand, new trailer as well. We promised it a few weeks back (sorry about that) but then decided it needed more time to make it perfect. We're confident you'll enjoy seeing parts of the real film for the first time. We expect the new trailer to launch in the next week or so, and don't worry, we'll be sure to let you know it's ready for you.


Happy 2010 from Alfred & Jakobine!

Alfred, Niels and Anpo in the middle of their journey.

Happy New Year to all of you. We've been busy at work on a brand new trailer for the film, and it is coming together very nicely. You will see it before anyone else next week. This new trailer, for the first time, will properly represent all the dimensions of the story, now that the film has been shot.

Most importantly, it will, more than our current trailer, evoke the key role of Niels in the film, Alfred and Jakobine's son. Niels, of course, made the journey with Alfred across the country in the old taxi, and within the film, it will be through Niels that we will learn of the epic story of his parents' greatest adventure, and of Alfred's plans for the taxi before the new road trip begins.

Many of you have asked how the trip went. Did they have problems along the way? How did the taxi do? Did they make it all the way to Jakobines, and if so, how did she react?  The answers to some of these questions will be contained in the new trailer, but certainly not all. For these, you'll have to wait for the actual film!

One final update for now, is that we are about to go into final editing! Our talented editor, Alan Mackay, is now ready to jump in, and we're all very excited to see how he crafts the story, from the over 80 hours of footage that we shot. Also, we have new composers lined up to create music, and a beautiful score for the film, which is so important.

It's all very exciting, and we'll keep you posted more frequently now, as things move toward completion, and for now, keep an eye out for the brand new trailer next week.

A brand new dip into the A&J archives: Batch 1

This was our first week back in London since we wrapped principal photography, and it was all about catching up (and fighting jet lag), having spent almost 8 weeks shooting in the US. We all caught our collective breaths, and now it's time to start reviewing the over 80 hours of footage we shot, plan the edit, prepare for the archival dimension of the film, and plan other post production details. Lots to do.

We started reviewing the massive amount of new archival material this week, that we collected from Alfred and Jakobine's personal collections. Amazing stuff. We could almost tell the story with photographs alone!

Here, in no particular order is a new selection of photos, slides and paper matter from the archives, ready to be worked into the film. Some have captions, some don't, but we hope you enjoy them.

 A page from Alfred's Pakistani driver's license

Alfred's Moroccan driver's license

Alfred the adventurer.

The rad blowing coming up a hill in India (so steep was the hill, that the rad blew every 5 minutes).

Fixing the the taxi in Africa.

Filling the rad in Southern India.

Alfred and Jakobine with a white dove in Karachi, Pakistan.

Fitting as second, rear wheel in Casablanca, before they headed into the Sahara Desert.

On the beach in Casablanca, before heading into the Sahara. With Alfred are their friends Liza and Phlip.

So how did Jakobine react?!

Last week we told you that after 2000 miles of travel with the taxi, Alfred and Niels (and the crew) were finally on the outskirts of Oneida, NY...  Since then, you've been asking, and asking: Did Alfred make it?  If so, how did it go? How did Jakobine react?

Well, don't you hate when movie trailers give away the whole movie?!  We don't want this blog to do the same thing, so you're going to have to wait for the finished film to find out! But we can tell you this: the climax of this story was truly a climax! It was perfect!

We are very pleased to announce that we wrapped principal photography on Saturday, November 14th, but then director of photography Rollo Hollins, and director Jonathan Howells raced 2000 miles back across the country in just 3 days to shoot more landscapes and Americana. As this blog post is written, R and J are finally back in Albuquerque where it all started, and fly back to London tomorrow morning.

A little exhausted, and quite excited by how this amazing story has unfolded, we now head back to London to begin the actual making of this film. With shooting complete, now comes the editing - the sculpting the film's final form. We'll continue to update you, and provide exclusive sneak peaks in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned!

Please continue to pass word of the film along to friends. Even though Alfred's journey is complete, the film's journey is far from over, and is still in need of funding assistance. Please support "Alfred & Jakobine" by telling friends to consider "Buying a mile".

For now, here are brand new frames from our recent footage. First, a series of shots of Alfred and Niels driving closer and closer and closer towards Jakobine's house and the surprise, and also an image of Jakobine herself at her home in Oneida.

Next week, look out for a brand new sampling of amazing, archival photos uncovered from Jakobine and Alfred's personal collections during production, showcasing other incredible moments from their great taxi adventure in the 1950s.






Day 28, Fuel explosions, police warnings and NBC

This week we reached the outskirts of Oneida, NY, the home of Jakobine. Tune in next time for a report on how the actual arrival went... though you'll have to wait for the film itself to get the full picture!

The lead up to our arrival was high drama, as has been the whole journey. We broke down the morning before the arrival, and with fuel dripping from the taxi's carburetor, we even experienced a mini-explosion. Were it not for yet another generous mechanic, Dale in Syracuse NY, who worked on the taxi over night, we wouldn't have made it.

The day before that, the taxi was stopped by police and given a warning for it's rear lights not working.

But a few days ago, we arrived in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and had a party thrown for us. Over 100 people turned up to meet and welcome Alfred and Niels as they passed through town on their way to Oneida. It was a great motivator for our exhausted crew (and A and N) seeing the enthusiasm and admiration that was extended to the story and our production. Thanks again to Todd Cotgreave for making it all happen. Below is an NBC news segment about our arrival in Shepherdstown.


Alfred & Jakobine, NBC News from Jonathan Howells on Vimeo.

Day 21, A Photo Essay

We've now been out on the road for over a week, and it already feels like years since we left Taos. What day of the week is it? Where are we, and where were we yesterday? How much farther do we have to go? We've seen so much, travelled so far, and have had to help the old taxi on a daily basis. While we all keep moving, the miles have taken their toll on Alfred and Niels, the crew and certainly the taxi, but we keep on moving, closer and closer to Oneida, and Jakobine's house. This evening, we arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, just inside the Eastern Time Zone, having driven from Memphis this morning, where we spent the last 2 days (what a great city it was!) Tomorow we press on, eastward. Go taxi go, go Alfred go!

Here are a few behind the scenes images for your enjoyment.



Day 14: A photo essay

Yesterday morning, after waiting and waiting in Taos for the old taxi to be road worthy, we finally hit the road! Alfred, Niels and the taxi are at the beginning of a 2500 mile journey to Oneida, New York - the adventure begins. Just two days out, we now find ourselves in Dumas, Texas, having spent last night at the wonderful Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The taxi has already shown its age, with a challenging start to the day today, that was nothing if not dramatic. The feat of making across the country is clearly going to be a great challenge for the 75-year-old taxi. If not for a friendly local mechanic, "Crazy Charley" Crossley, who stepped up to help us, we might still be in New Mexico. Stay tuned for more updates on the adventure, and our production that followings it.

Below are some footage stills of landscapes and scenes, as well as some behind the scenes shots:



Day 7: A photo essay

Many of you have been waiting for updates on our first week of shooting Alfred & Jakobine, so here's a photo essay covering a lot of the places we've been. Starting in Providence, Rhode Island at the home of Niels (Alfred and Jakobine's son) and his wife Carmen, then on to Oneida, New York to meet with Jakobine and her husband Rusty, and for the past 3 days in Albuquerque and Taos, New Mexico, with Alfred himself. Hope you enjoy the shots.  Lots more to come as we move into week 2.





Show time!

Rollo Hollins and Rob Fletcher checking in 12 cases of lighting and camera equipment at Heathrow Airport

Well, after months (actually years) of planning, researching and prepping, it's finally show time!  On Sunday morning (11th Oct), the core crew including director Jonathan Howellls, producer Rob Fletcher and DP Rollo Hollins arrived at Heathrow in London, to catch a flight to Boston to start shooting Alfred & Jakobine.

They met Toronto based sound recordist Rebecca Conrad in Boston as well as Line Producer Julie Cresswell. The first shots will commence Monday morning in Providence, Rhode Island, at the home of Niels Hobbs, Alfred and Jakobine's son. Niels, who we haven't told you much about, will now be joining Alfred on his journey across America in the old London taxi, now making this as much a 'father and son' story, as it is about Alfred and his once wife Jakobine.

Thank you to all of your who stepped up and "bought miles" to help Alfred in the last couple of weeks. Your support has made a huge difference, not only ensuring the completion of the taxi, but also in helping Alfred overcome the strain of escalating costs for the taxi restoration.

Wish us luck in our first week of shooting!


Though the mechanical side of things has proven to be the biggest challenge for The Service Station in Albuquerque, as they bring Alfred's taxi back to life, the body itself has been making huge leaps forward, thanks to the great work of "Stump".

Here we see Stump applying a new coat of maroon paint to the taxi. The first coat of paint that it's seen since it rolled off the assembly line in London in 1934. The more perceptive of you out there, may have noticed that the taxi in the masthead graphic at the top of this site has now become maroon. It was blue up until recently.

The London-based crew is heading to Heathrow airport on Sunday morning to fly to the US, and to begin shooting the film! We're all really excited. Stay tuned!

Alfred & Jakobine (behind the scenes): New paint job from Jonathan Howells on Vimeo.

Help Alfred!

This week, Alfred's deadline was missed. The guys are the Service Station in Albuquerque have been working extremely hard to get the taxi ready for Alfred to make his trip, but it's proving to be a bigger challenge than any of us expected.

Oct 1st '09 was the "new" deadline, having already missed a Sept 15th '09 deadline. In this rough edit from Sept 30th '09, we see the attempt and the failure to get the 70-year-old engine to start up.

We also see a demoralized Alfred. Not only is he getting more and more discouraged with the succession of disappointments and lost time, but also the escalating cost of getting his old taxi back on its feet, which has now gone way past what he had budgeted.

We're trying to help him as much as we can, but we want to appeal to you for your help too. Donations via the website's "buy-a-mile" program go directly to Alfred.

Lots of you have already helped, and perhaps you could all spread the word about the film and about Alfred's situation to family and friends. But those of you who have not yet supported Alfred, we hope that might consider "buying a mile" now, before you forget.

Buy a mile now.

Alfred thanks you.

Alfred & Jakobine (behind the scenes) PLEASE HELP ALFRED! from Jonathan Howells on Vimeo.

Coming back to life

Slowly but surely, Alfred's old taxi is coming back to life. This week, the body showed a glimmer of its former splendor. "Stump" the body work man at The Service Station, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been working hard on restoring the body. In this video clip we see him priming the taxi for its fresh, new coat of paint that will follow in a few days time.

The work on the taxi is costing Alfred more than he expected, and we need to help him as much as we can. Please help us help him. Please help spread the word about his dream & about our film to all your friends. Everyone who contributes by "buying-a-mile" will be credited in the film, but more importantly, will know that they have helped 84-year-old Alfred Hobbs on his personal mission, to drive across the country to find his once wife, Jakobine, and offer her one last ride in their taxi. The taxi that they drove around the world almost 50 years ago. Please help.

You can "Buy-a-mile" (or 4 miles and also receive an official t-shirt) here.

A very, very big thanks goes to Carey Moots for the absolutely great shots he's been capturing of the taxi's ongoing restoration.


Alfred & Jakobine, (Behind the Scenes) Taxi coming back to life from Jonathan Howells on Vimeo.

London: Crew prepares for the journey to Taos

This weekend, part of our principal crew (including director Jonathan Howells, producer Rob Fletcher and director of photography, Rollo Hollins) had the pleasure,and benefit, of spending some time with one of Warren Rushton's beautifully restored 1930s Austin taxis (almost identical to Alfred's). 

We were able to determine our main camera angles, plans the mounting of the cameras off the taxi's roof rack and front fenders, as well as develop a lighting plan for the interior of the taxi. This was valuable access in advance of our filming of Alfred's journey in October in his 1930s Austin taxi.

We are now less than 4 weeks until production (ahh)!  If everything goes according to plan, we'll all be arriving in Taos, New Mexico around Oct 10th, rendezvous with the rest of the crew, and will start the journey with Alfred cross country, 2500 miles to Oneida, New York to find Jakobine, Alfred's once wife.

A wonderful new dimension to our story is that Niels, Alfred and Jakobine's son, will travel with his father all the way across the country to Jakobine's. After Oneida, we will continue on Providence, Rhode Island so Alfred can pass the taxi on to Niels.

Here are a few shots of our prep day with a "brother" of Alfred's taxi.

Rollo Hollins (left) our Director of Photography, and Producer Rob Fletcher with Warren Rushton's Austin taxi

One of the Sony EX3 cameras we'll be using on the road.

Planning the roof rack camera mount, allowing us to shoot from outside the taxi, looking in.

One of the fender mounted camera positions. We'll mount on both left and right fenders.

The rear camera position, behind the driving cabin, where Alfred and Niels will sit.

The front hood camera position. Seen reflected in the glass is director Jonathan Howells.

After nearly 50 years, Alfred is back on TV and Radio!

KOAT TV, Albuquerque, 2009, and NHK television, Tokyo, 1961

We are delighted to report that after nearly 50 years, Alfred Hobbs is back on tv and radio. This past week, ABC affiliate KOAT 7 Action News in Albuquerque, New Mexico spoke with Alfred about his story and about our upcoming documentary film Alfred & Jakobine, at the garage where the taxi is now being worked on. Thanks to Paul Fachan, the owner of The Service Station, for allowing the interview to take place there, and for providing the photos below. Thanks also to KOAT's Cary Schwanitz for his interest in Alfred's story and our film.

Alfred was charming, as usual, and walking around the old taxi (that the photos clearly show, has a long way to go toward road worthiness) he explained some of the stories behind its many bumps and bruises, suffered when he and Jakobine drove it around the world in the late 1950s. He also explained his plan to take the taxi all the across the US, to surprise her with the it, and then give her one last drive. You can view the news story here.

Then and the end of the week, Alfred and I were both interviewed on WSHC 89.7 FM Radio in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Thanks to station COO Todd Cotgreave for his enthusiasm and support of Alfred & Jakobine, and very big thanks to Mark Coats, (whose parents were friends of Alfred and Jakobine's in the '60s) who brought the Alfred & Jakobine project to Todd's attention. We'll have the full interview available here on the blog when it goes live in the week ahead.

The last time Alfred Hobbs was on television was back in 1961 when he and Jakobine, at the end of their world journey in their taxi, appeared on a Japanese game show where a panel of contestants had to guess who they were and what they'd done - and they did!

We hope that this publicity will help Alfred raise some much needed money to restore the taxi. You can support him by "buying-a-mile" here.


Alfred with the taxi at The Service Station, Albuquerque, August 12, 2009


Alfred and Jakobine with the taxi on NHK television, Tokyo, 1961









Adventure: Taxi! Part II

A 1930s Austin London taxi at the scene of a bomb blast.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Getty Images.

Last week we looked at some of the many, incredible adventure stories that took place in the 1950s in 1930s Austin London Taxis. But why only 1930s Austin London Taxis and why only during the 1950s? There were several, contributing factors that all aligned to enable this unique, travel phenomenon.

1. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, the fleet of 1930s London taxis where already middle aged. Only ever expected to be in service for 10 or 15 years, these taxis would likely have not seen the world as they did, had war not broken out. They would have been retired or scrapped, and replace by newer taxis by the mid 1940s.

But war did break out, and the taxis were not retired. Why? Because the war effort focused virtually all industry, including the automotive industry, on the war effort - metals and other materials essential for the manufacture of armaments and weaponry, were restricted and reserved for the making of planes, tanks, ships, trucks, and other war vehicles and supplies. As a result, no new taxis were built from 1939/1940 right up until the late 40s, and therefore there were virtually no taxis other than these old taxis, at the beginning of the 1950s.

2. Why Austins? Between 1930 and 1940, Austin was quite simply dominated the taxi trade. In that ten year span, nearly 6000 Austin taxi cabs were registered, representing an astonishing 75% of all new sales of taxi cabs. Competitors like Beardmore and Morris couldn't keep up, and there just weren't as many of their taxis on the road, as there were Austins. Austin taxis were everywhere.

3. The war effort also recruited a large number of the older taxis on London's roads for the war effort, which earned many of them mechanical upgrades that they might not have otherwise had, arguably extending their mechanical strength and their life spans. Nearly 2500 Austin taxis were recruited either into the Auxiliary Fire Brigade (see War Taxis post) pulling water tanks and pumps to bomb blast sites or into a specially trained units preparing for the possibility of a German invasion of Britain. These taxis were often camouflage and even fitted with machine guns. Those taxis that were still in the service of carrying passengers around London were specially maintained by Mann & Overton, the taxi trade concessionaire/distributor, to ensure their reliable service.

1930s Austin taxis lined up with camouflage for military training exercises.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Getty Images

An Austin taxi that was recruited into the auxilary fire brigade to pull water tanks and pumps.
Image from the book "Taxi, The Story of the London Taxi Cab"

4. With the war finally over, and things beginning to return to normal, the first waves of new taxis finally arrived at the end of the 1940s and beginning of 1950s. The 1930s Austins were old, battered and out of date. The ones that did survive (around half of the total fleet) were worn out, and being scrapped or sold off to whom ever might be interested in them – and then, along they came.

5. The dawn of the 1950s was a brave new world – perhaps more so for those who didn't live in Europe during the war. But the war was over, much of the reconstruction was well underway, and Europe was safe again. A new generation, who were students during the war, were now finishing University and ready to explore the world. Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", written in 1951 and published in 1957, expressed the opening up of possibilities.
Many who arrived in London in the mid 1950s, who had a taste for adventure, seemed to discover a unique way to travel. 1930's Austin London taxi cabs.... and travel they did – far and wide, and none farther, than Alfred & Jakobine.

And that's how it happened!