The phrase ‘Catching Out’ describes the act of hopping a freight train. In the documentary film “Catching Out,” several contemporary hobos dissent against mainstream American consumer culture by traveling for free on freight trains. The film features a seasoned eco-activist named Lee, a young nomad named Jessica, and a tramp couple known as Switch and Baby Girl. In three interwoven stories, “Catching Out” follows these trainhoppers as they navigate between the constraints of society and the freedom of the road.
In the opening sequence, as passing scenery floats and blurs across the horizon, Lee describes the visceral experience of hopping a train. Switch and Baby Girl enjoy the view through the door of an open boxcar. Jessica recounts the thrill of her first freight trip and asserts, “It changes your perspective completely.” Her boyfriend, Dan, recalls, “I just absolutely fell in love with the lifestyle and with the trains and with the misery that accompanies it all.”
Cutting between synch-sound interviews and train footage, the characters share their thoughts and insights. But, as their personal stories unfold, the rails recede into the background. We visit Lee’s cozy forest home, meet his parents, and eventually follow him to a hobo gathering in Dunsmuir, CA. Jessica settles temporarily in San Francisco where we meet her friends, her mother, and her sister. Switch and Baby Girl retire from the rails in order to raise their son Isaiah.
After premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2002, Director Sarah George took the film on a self-styled distribution tour, hopping freight trains between screenings across North America. A DIY European tour followed in 2003. For more info about the tours, see the “Solo Artist” and “Euro Tour” projects on this site. You can also read a selection of reviews on the Press page.
To date CATCHING OUT has entertained audiences at over 50 theatrical venues including Film Forum in New York City and a castle in Poland! CATCHING OUT premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2004 and Microcinema International released the DVD in June 2008.
Visit the Catching Out website for more info