Mike Henneberry, courtesy of Once Films
A few months ago, we drew your attention to a short film about sign painter, Phil Jarvis. It was produced by Once Films, a local creative agency that has launched what it's calling its Spotlight Series, short films that tell the stories of St. Louis' artisans and small businesses, especially ones engaged in work that's unusual, rare, or offbeat. Each little film hyperfocuses on one person, one workspace; the power of this series is its minimalism, and its way of really sinking down into the microcosm of one person's world. The first film in the series, "Bob the Baker," told the story of Bob Smith, proprietor of Carondelet Bakery. The close-ups of Bob's hand lighting his old ovens with a wooden match, or flipping through his yellowed recipe cards, described his vocation as much as anything he said out loud. It screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival, and won a Gold Addy award last week. The second film focused on Jarvis (who painted that cool sign for Strange Donuts, among other things). In the third short film, released today, Once visits the garage of Mike Henneberry, resident mechanic at Sump Motorcycles. In the film, Henneberry—who's operated Sump for two years, though he's been wrenching motorcycles for 18—waxes poetic about the look, sound and even smell of certain vintage bikes. (He also, as motorcycle guys are wont to do, drops some F-bombs, so if you have delicate ears, or are playing this on your computer at work without headphones...we warned you.)
Sump is a name that most St. Louisians, and a lot of very impressed out-of-towners, associate with coffee. Though Sump Motorcycles and Sump Coffee share space at 3700 Jefferson in the Marine Villa neighborhood, the two businesses are separate entities. They're just friends and next-door neighbors—Sump Coffee proprietor Scott Carey is a well-known fan of custom motorcycles, and we can't imagine Henneberry not being a fan of Carey's excellent java.
Once's Greg Kiger describes Henneberry as a "motorcycle craftsman," and a "St. Louis working-class hero." Henneberry's also extremely engaging, passionate, and funny. You can watch him work on, and talk about bikes here, on Once's Spotlight page, where you can also find the first two films and look for future ones as they're posted. Another warning: this video may give you a real hankering to own your own motorcycle, or at least flag down the next one you see and beg for a ride around the block.