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"Tread," a Film by Paul Solet

"Tread," a Film by Paul Solet

“Tread,” tells the story of Marvin Heemeyer’s rampage through Granby, Colorado. The owner of a muffler shop and renowned welder, Marvin reached the point where he had had enough. Carrying out his God-given mission, Marvin altered a Komatsu D355A bulldozer to become a war machine. He set out to destroy every building and home of those who had wronged him. Marv began at the cement batch plant and continued on his reign of terror until the Killdozer got stuck in the floor of the hardware store. Without an end planned, Marvin took his own life. This documentary is much more than a story about destruction. It’s an objective view as the town of Granby, Colorado heals. Listen in as we talk to director Paul Solet about his experience creating “Tread.”

Cast of Characters:

Paul Solet............Director

Marvin Heemeyer...Deceased, Star

Cody Docheff….Marv’s Arch Nemesis

Patrick Brauer...Ski-Hi News Reporter

Glenn Trainor….Under Sherriff (1993-2004)

Trisha MacDonald...Marv’s Ex-Girlfriend

Stuart Spencer….Marv’s Friend

Tread is distributed by Gravitas Ventures (

In this episode we are talking to director Paul Solet. Paul's background is actually in horror movies, and "Tread" is his first feature documentary. When watching this film, you'll be able to see the genre's influence. His biggest claim to fame is "Bullet Head," the highly-stylized existential crime thriller, which he wrote, directed and produced.

You can watch the film on iTunes and Amazon

And check out the trailer on Youtube

Check out Paul on Instagram and Twitter @paulsolet

Follow our hosts!

Heather on Twitter @ @broadwhowrites and Instagram @that_broad_who_writes

B.C. on Twitter and LinkedIn @bcwehman

B.C. Wehman:

When Marvin Heemeyer moved to Colorado, it was for a new life.

Heather Grayson:

A life full of snowmobiling, his muffler shop, and maybe he could even find love.

B.C. Wehman:

But Marvin was met with roadblocks at every turn in a town that seemed to be working against him.

Heather Grayson:

On June 4th, 2004, Marvin emerged from his shop, a man on a mission.

B.C. Wehman:

To destroy the town of Granby, Colorado, and everyone that had worked against him. In the proceeding

months, Marv bought 1,000 pound Komatsu bulldozer that he armored with concrete filled steel plates,

creating an indestructible armor.

Heather Grayson:

His path of destruction began at the bane of his existence, the concrete batch plant next door, taking

out their main building before heading into town.

B.C. Wehman:

Marv took out 13 buildings, several cars, and even a kids' playground before meeting his demise at

Gamble's Hardware.

Heather Grayson:

Marv took his own life that day, but left hours of cassette tapes to tell his story of retribution.

Heather Grayson:

Hi, I'm Heather Grayson, Writer, Producer and Director, who craves passion in filmmaking, and

documentarians are just that. I write fiction, but I love to watch the truth.

B.C. Wehman:

My name is B.C. Wehman. I'm an actor, a writer, an entertainer, all sorts of creative endeavors, but what

I love most, being a storyteller. It's why I love documentaries. They're extraordinary stories from every

day extraordinary people.

B.C. Wehman:

This is Behind The Doc and today we are behind the scenes with Tread.

Marvin Heemeyer:

Hello, my name is Marvin Heemeyer. Today is April 13, 2004. This tape is about my life since I come up

here in 1991. I want to say right now God left me in advance for the task that I am about to undertake.

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B.C. Wehman:

We are very excited for today's episode. We have a wonderful director from a really gripping and

amazing film. Let's welcome everyone Paul Solet. Paul, tell us how you're doing. Tell us a little bit about

yourself and let's get going.

Paul Solet:

I'm doing okay, all things considered. Thanks for having me. Good to be here.

B.C. Wehman:

Let's get right down to it Paul. Why? Why make this story? Why make Tread?

Paul Solet:

I think from the moment I saw images of the machine I was fascinated by this story. When you see sort

of what really is a tank, essentially, driving through small town America in what appears to be a war

zone, there's a inherent character question at the core of it. Who would make this thing and why? What

was done to this man or what did he perceive as having been done to him in order to feel that this was

the necessary action to take? As soon as I saw images of the machine, I was sort of hooked.

Heather Grayson:

Everything was so good and so well done. It looks as though you did build one yourself when you were

making that machine. Were you kind of getting into his mind?

Paul Solet:

We did, in fact, recreate the machine. I had an incredible production designer, a man named Rob Wilson

King, who was really a living legend in the art department world. I was just really, really lucky to have

him and his team. They really did rebuild the machine. Our production team sourced a Komatsu D355A

bulldozer, which is like a massive 28 foot long, 14 foot high quarry class bulldozer.

Movie Clip:

There's this huge black monstrosity. I mean, almost like a World War I big boxy, grumbly tank. And then

the next thing you're thinking is, "How do you attack something like this? How do I stop this?"

Paul Solet:

Rob and his team in a matter of weeks built a machine that took Marvin 17 months to build. I mean, our

version of course, is different. Marvin was using thicker steel and more of it. We're using some tricks to

make it a little bit more manageable, but it was a really incredible thing.

Paul Solet:

It was interesting. It's a good question. It was interesting talking to the art department team about what

their experience was building this thing. They absolutely had the experience of thinking about, well, how

did this guy do this?

Paul Solet:

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What Heemeyer did, he built this machine on his own. He built it alone in this 2,000 square foot portion

of a warehouse. He built custom a custom winch to lift and move massive plates of steel. Just from a

sort of engineering standpoint, it's sort of a marvel.

Paul Solet:

Marvin in his daily life was a muffler mechanic and a really good one. He applied his trade here and you

saw all of this sort of anger that he had and the resentment that he had manifested in physical form in

this machine. It was a sort of an incredible thing to see it kind of come back to life, and a little bit


B.C. Wehman:

It was like something out of a horror film when it comes to that. It's interesting, Paul, because you talk

about how it has a lot of your special effects department has a lot of influence from feature films and

such, and that's where you got your start, right? You got your start kind of in the horror film genre?

Paul Solet:

Yeah. I come from scripted movies. This was actually the first doc that I had made. And so the

recreation, it was necessary to tell this story. There is a really a wealth of archival material. You had a

police officer shooting a large portion of the event on a camcorder, you had helicopter footage, but that

was really the only the back third of the event.

Paul Solet:

The first portion of the event was something that if our duty as filmmakers is sort of to guide the

audience through a subjective experience of what happened, it really was our sort of obligation to

recreate that stuff as faithfully as possible.

Heather Grayson:

You did a really great job in putting those pieces together and having us know who Marvin was, not only

with the interviews that you did with his friends and his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend.

Movie Clip:

He was old school for me. Society doesn't allow that anymore. He's a handshake, say handshake kind of

guy to me. I mean, he was confident and I thought he was handsome and he was larger than life. I felt

safe with him.

Heather Grayson:

But also just sliding his tapes in. How many times did you listen to those tapes? When you were listening

to them, were you really getting into his brain? Were you understanding where he was coming from?

Paul Solet:

I listened to the tapes many, many times, and I really studied those tapes. And definitely the goal when

you're making a documentary about someone who's not with you, you sort of have an obligation to try

to really understand their perspective as much as possible. This is a guy who sat down and deliberately

recorded his version of his legacy. In particular with the tapes is that Marvin Heemeyer is a very dynamic

creator of short sound bites.

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Marvin Heemeyer:

It's the kind of a community that in order for you to get ahead, you have to keep the neighbor down. It's

not build yourself up on your own merit. It's tear the other guy down.

Paul Solet:

He has sort of one liners that are really striking. And when they're out of context, you can't help but for

a moment at least go, "Man, this guy really sounds like he was wronged. Something really bad must

have happened." You'll listen, you lean in, but the more you listen to him, the more he talks, the less

sort of substance you find in what he's saying.

Marvin Heemeyer:

But it has to be done and the world will write stories about how wrong I am. And without a doubt, I wish

you could never get away, but there is no way to make this right.

Paul Solet:

He was an angry guy. That's the real takeaway. The purpose having realized that was to find a way to

allow the people of the community who had actually experienced this all across the spectrum, from the

first responders involved to people who were close to Marvin, to people whose livelihoods were

destroyed by what he did, to allow them to tell the story for the first time.

B.C. Wehman:

I kind of remember the story. I'm old enough and I've seen and read about it, but a lot of it was the

sensationalized version and his descent into madness, for lack of a better term. But you got the side of

the people who experienced it from the people who he was potentially targeting to the people that

were responding to it. How was that going back to Granby? was the town in the Thompson brothers and

Dick Brody and all the people associated with this who he had vengeance against, were they open to

talking about it? Were they reluctant? How did you approach them and how long did it take you to get

them to open up to you to share their side?

Paul Solet:

I think any town that has been through a kind of collective communal trauma like this is going to be

naturally wary of outsiders, especially outsiders coming in with a camera from Los Angeles. What we did

was meet with people first and to allow them to get to know us. I just had coffee with people. We didn't

jump into trying to put anyone on camera. We just said, "Sit down and talk to the filmmaker and ask him

questions and see what his motives are." You definitely stay objective.

Paul Solet:

Really all the people that we met in Granby, I really, I liked and cared about. Ultimately they were very

welcoming and they opened up the community to us, like giving them a way to tell the story from their

standpoint, which I don't know that anyone had really done.

B.C. Wehman:

We don't have a ton of information about Marvin previously to his time in Colorado. Did you go back

and research some of his life in South Dakota and not put it in the film? Or did you decide that it wasn't

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the story you wanted to tell? Just curious on the focus on post Colorado time is compared to before he

gets into Granby.

Movie Clip:

Marv Heemeyer, he was from South Dakota and he served in the Air Force. He realized that he had a

knack for welding, working on engines and motors. He was stationed in Colorado and decided to stay in

Colorado when he got out of the Air Force.

Paul Solet:

There's for sure a six episode series in this. I would watch it. In that series you would get into who he

was growing up and what was his family life like, and where did you develop the religious beliefs that he


Paul Solet:

But like you said, it really, the focus of this story was the experience that Marvin had in Granby and that

Granby had with Marvin and the dissonance in those two different perspectives. We chose to not dig

too deep into that.

Paul Solet:

We mentioned that he had some military experience. We mentioned that he was already successful in

business and owned several muffler shops before he moved to Granby. But for the purposes of this film,

it just, it really, it starts where Marvin's own narrative starts really, which is when he moved to Granby.

Movie Clip:

He did a lot of great work for people, ran that muffler shop for a lot of years. I even had work done at his

shop. He had a reputation as being the best welder around.

Heather Grayson:

I don't remember this story unfortunately. Whenever I was watching, I was like, "Oh my gosh, how could

I have missed this?" It actually did happen on my birthday.

B.C. Wehman:

Oh wow.

Heather Grayson:

I was like, "Okay. I turned 24 that day. That's probably why I wasn't paying attention." But it was just the

whole scope of it and the city itself, the town, I kind of put myself in the place of the town folk there

because I grew up in a very similar town in Ohio like that. So for myself to have seen this giant machine

and the effort that this guy put into building it, what was it for you to just look at it and say, "The scope

of this is so huge, how am I going to break this down and work it into a documentary?"

Paul Solet:

I looked at this the same way that I would look at a scripted feature from a structural standpoint. My

editor, Darren Roberts, did the same. You sort of look at what the story points are and sort of carve

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away the pieces that aren't relevant to the primary narrative bit by bit. And then you seek out whether

it's in interviews or recreation's, you seek out and create the necessary components and assets to tell

that story.

B.C. Wehman:

When you look at it from that feature film or that scripted film aspect, the film is beautifully shot. The

drone footage is beautiful. The snowmobile footage, I don't know where you filmed that at, but that was

an amazing looking shot. They just really were great. It was clear you put a lot of emphasis into that

because not all documentaries have that level of cinematography that you put in. Was that an emphasis

that you wanted to make that look like a scripted film, or is it just a result of your background and your

knowledge base?

Paul Solet:

Yeah, thanks. I appreciate that. My director of photography is a guy named Zoran Popovic. I never work

with anybody else. We've made five movies together and worked all over the world and I love him. I

swear by him. He's a real master and it's a visual medium, first and foremost. I don't ever take that

component of it lightly. We really did push to create an immersive cinematic, subjective experience of

what happened. And your number one tool is cinematography. I'm really fortunate to have had Zoran

and the support of Panavision who provided us the best anamorphic lenses in the world. That's a real

luxury on a documentary, much higher paying work, but they believed in this film and showed up for it.

These are people that don't show up and they don't do half measures, really. I was really thrilled with

that stuff.

Paul Solet:

All that snowmobile footage was shot in Colorado, and all the people snowmobiling, they are the

Thursday crew. Those are the people that he snowmobiled with.

Movie Clip:

The Thursday Group. Every Thursday they take the day off and go ride. Sometimes you have four guys,

sometimes you have 24 riders, just a great bunch of guys to go out and ride with.

B.C. Wehman:

And as the story goes, once again, the story plays out really well in film. It starts with some really great

shots that set up kind of, I was telling Heather, this checkoffs gun thing with all the welding shots and

this, and you don't really know where it's going. It does have a lot of throughout the first two thirds, a

good narrative, but it's a lot of interviews, but then it really picks up in that last third. You start

intercutting reenactment footage with news footage, with interview footage.

B.C. Wehman:

It painted this picture of every person's view, first responders, what each of the potential targets was

going through. It really ramped up the pace of the film and left you kind of like on the edge of your seat

through it. Was that an intentional thing or was it just, once again, just by the footage and when you got

it all together you knew that it had the end, like in this kind of Hollywood fashion, this beautiful last act?

Paul Solet:

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We always knew where the story wanted to end. We knew what the third act would be. It is the


Movie Clip:

911. What's your emergency?

Movie Clip:

This is [inaudible 00:16:55] at the [inaudible 00:16:55] company and they're in a bulldozer over at

Mountain Park Concrete destroying their building.

Paul Solet:

There was never any question about that. I think the intent, even from a treatment phase, when I was

initially conceptualizing it, was to provide you with one perspective and to invest you in that perspective

and then to counter it and to swing the pendulum back and provide you with additional perspectives

that make you question the prior perspective to move you to a place where by the time you get to the

third act, you're invested in all perspectives. And you may feel that Heemeyer has lost it, you still feel for

him. The goal is that by the time you get to the end of that third act, that you're so invested in all of the

people that you care for everybody, and you feel it, that's what it was, which is a sort of an actual tragic

event from all sides.

Marvin Heemeyer:

Hey, I hope you all have a great time and good life. I've had a great life and I'm going to put this tape and

tape recorder in a plastic bag so somebody else can try to figure it out. We'll see you later.

B.C. Wehman:

You give a lot of, we talked earlier, attention with Marvin in his tapes. The film basically begins on them

and it ends on them with Marvin's words. Have you gotten any flack saying you're making Marvin this

anti-hero, even though I don't think it's painted that way, but we know sometimes even if you dramatize

someone who committed an evil act, people can be upset by just giving them attention. Have you

gotten any of that, people not knowing about it, and then saying we maybe should've let the story lie so

we don't have copycats and these types of things?

Paul Solet:

Yeah. That's a really good question, and something we talked about a lot. The reality is that this is not a

film that glorifies who he was or what he did even remotely. What it is is this sort of an intimate

window, a sort of a case study of exactly the processes that lead to these sorts of explosions of violence

that we see throughout society.

Marvin Heemeyer:

Gus Harris and Cody Docheff and the powers that be, the Thompsons, if they were to let me alone I

wouldn't have had this righteous anger.

Paul Solet:

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More and more, you see these kinds of explosions of rage that result in a lot of times, loss of life at a

great scale too. I don't think that we serve anybody by pretending that these things don't happen. I think

the greatest service that we can provide is trying to understand how and why these things do happen.

Paul Solet:

Ultimately, this is a movie about resentment and what it does to the human perspective and the

fallibility of a single human perspective. This is a movie that if it's doing its job, it should make you

question your own perspective the next time you're angry. It is a movie that is designed to make you

think about how we treat each other, how we communicate and how we care for each other and to be a

little bit more attentive to everybody in our communities. To me, that's a purely positive endeavor.

Heather Grayson:

Seeing that he was losing some basis of his mind, the people that were around him, and you said it

perfectly, this is about looking at people around us and noticing when something's wrong. Was there

anybody that came back to you and said to you, "I did notice something was going on with him, but I

didn't want to speak out. I didn't want to go out and call him out on something." Was there any regret

from anybody that they didn't notice anything?

Paul Solet:

Yeah, that's an interesting question. Heemeyer was very, very private. I mean, he was entirely private

about what he was doing. He was also a guy who he ran his mouth. I think what people were most

surprised by was that in fact, a lot of what they had thought of as noise was in fact signal.

Paul Solet:

There were a couple people who I spoke to who said, "I remember him saying I should just get a

bulldozer and just roll through this whole town." But we probably all heard people say that kind of a

thing, like a sort of a comment that subtext of which is like, "Well, I want to burn it all down." You don't

take it literally. There is no frame of reference for making a tank and destroying the town.

B.C. Wehman:

What you described when you talked about Marvin being there is like he was loud, he was abrasive,

which is kind of exactly what he described his mane in his brain, I'll say antagonist, which is Cody

Docheff. I don't think Cody was in the film, if I'm correct on that.

Paul Solet:

Cody felt that his family had been through too much already and that it would be sort of reach retraumatizing to speak to us. You hear his interviews that Patrick Brower had done. So we have audio

interviews of Cody.

Movie Clip:

Cody, do you remember the first time you met Marv at that auction?

Cody Docheff:

Yeah. Me and Gus went to the sale auction in [inaudible 00:22:37]. that was on the two acres in the


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Movie Clip:

Did you talk to Marv afterwards, right, after the auction or during the auction, did you talk to him?

Cody Docheff:


B.C. Wehman:

I just found it interesting that whoever he was accusing of seems to be those things himself. Was there

anyone else you really wanted to get on camera that you didn't get a chance to?

Paul Solet:

I think it would have been interesting to have Cody. I would have loved to have spoken to Marvin's

family. It's funny sort of how things work out kind of the way it feels like they're supposed to have

worked out ultimately. Having Marvin and Cody both only in pre-recorded audio interview gave a sort of

balance to the movie and to their perspectives that I actually ended up feeling like was a real asset. It's

not a limitation I would have chosen, but his not having participated I think ultimately probably made it

a more effective telling of this story.

Movie Clip:

There's the difference of points of view or memory about what happened after Marv got it.

Movie Clip:

Cody Docheff, I mean, this guy is a fucking asshole. Come back and just introduce himself by giving me a

time lapse for about 10 minutes.

Movie Clip:

I don't think I even met Marv down there. Me and Gus just got up and walked out and I says, "We're


Movie Clip:

The reason I asked is that Marv claims that you guys talked afterwards.

Movie Clip:

I don't believe we talked to [inaudible 00:24:09].

Movie Clip:

I mean, I talked to this guy forever it seemed like. Everybody around me, they couldn't believe this

asshole. I mean, this is the only guy, of all the property that sold before his, that was doing any

screaming at anybody during the auction.

Heather Grayson:

I loved how you described at the beginning that this was whole town that went through this trauma, and

it really did. I mean, you did it so well too. There's not a lot of people that can go and make a

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documentary and it be just amazing. It's just an amazing documentary. It speaks on the filmmaker that

you are. So thank you for making it. I think it was a well told story and you did it very well.

Paul Solet:

Thanks very much. I loved getting to know these people and to understand this community a little bit

and I would love to do it again.

B.C. Wehman:

You learn all these interesting little facts about people as you go through this documentary process.

Paul, I discovered an interesting fact about you when I did a little Googling on the internet, that you may

share something that I am deeply passionate about that Heather and Sarah vehemently disagree with

me, is that there is only one type of flavored milk available for consumption, and that is strawberry, sir.

Paul Solet:

That's funny. You really did your digging.

B.C. Wehman:

I need you to tell them right now why strawberry is so much better than chocolate, that gross chocolate


Paul Solet:

That's such a complex a thing to get into, I got to say. My appreciation for strawberry milk comes from

an old friend of mine who at one point I actually watched basically live on frozen strawberry Quik and

Mountain Dew for months. So we could leave it at that.

B.C. Wehman:

That's a diet of champions right there, strawberry milk and Mountain Dew.

Heather Grayson:

We read also too, that your fans are called strawberries? So I'm definitely a strawberry. I will tell you

that for sure. I really want to thank you so much for talking to us today. Tread is available everywhere.

As we heard, definitely something that you should go out and take a very, very hard look at, not only the

movie, but you yourself and how you are going to look at people around you. I really enjoyed that

aspect of our conversation today.

Paul Solet:

Thanks. Thanks for having me. Thanks guys.

B.C. Wehman:

No, it's been great. And we appreciate all of the background information. We try to give people who are

looking out there, aspiring documentary filmmakers, some things to go on, and even a simple tip is you

don't just email and say, "Hey, let me put you on camera first." Have a cup of coffee with them, break

down some inhibitions and then get to know them, which is just behind the scenes information that I

don't think everyone thinks about when they start this process. They just want to grab a camera and find

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a real moment, a true crime thing to latch onto. It's great to see that the legwork can result in a much

more complete finished project, which Tread is. It's a beautiful looking film. I really appreciate some of

the behind the scenes information you shared for us and our listeners. I think it's a lot of great

information. So thank you so much for that as well.

Paul Solet:

Awesome. Thanks guys.

Marvin Heemeyer:

I am the co-captain in my life. God is first, I am second. You have tried to control my life. You have tried

to be the captain of my life. You do not run my life. You need God to determine what I desire, what I

want, what I deserve. I determine that and my God determines that, not you people, no people do that.

If they do, then you're a slave to them. I am not a slave to man. I am a slave to God.

B.C. Wehman:

Behind The Doc is produced by Evergreen Podcast in association with Gravitas Ventures.

Heather Grayson:

Special thanks to executive producers, Nolan Gallagher and Michael DeAloia.

B.C. Wehman:

Produced by Sarah Willgrube.

Heather Grayson:

And audio engineer, Eric Koltnow.

B.C. Wehman:

You'll find us everywhere and anywhere you listen to your favorite podcast.

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