The phrase ‘Catching Out’ describes the act of hopping a freight train. In the documentary film “Catching Out,” the adventure begins on the porch of a grainer hurtling through the arid expanse of the Mojave Desert. The journey continues into the unconventional terrain of an American sub-culture. The film features a seasoned eco-activist named Lee, a young nomad named Jessica, and a tramp couple named Switch and Baby Girl. In three interwoven stories, “Catching Out” follows these contemporary 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.