Adventure filmmakers big and small have more tools than ever for producing their work in the wilderness, thanks in part to the continuous improvements of camera equipment and filmmaking technology. Of course, the vision wouldn’t be anything without the dedicated creativity put forth by the storytellers — the writers, directors, cinematographers, editors, and producers. Lastly, and perhaps the most important aspect of the backstory, is the audience that eagerly awaits every web video, feature film or documentary release with open eyes, ears and wallets. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is a selection of adventure videos and films that made an impact. Hopefully, they inspire your own adventures in 2012, or at least prove a very entertaining half-hour tour… by way of couch.
By Justin Gural
Darkside Of The Lens
The Celtic Sea, tucked away in the northeast corner of the Atlantic Ocean, produces some of Ireland’s biggest and coldest surf –especially in the fall or winter when the swell takes true form. Surfing these waves breeds its own hefty sense of self-righting, and as “Darkside of the Lens” cinematically brings to light, so does documenting these waves. Photographer Mickey Smith narrated his story aptly, and the imagery is both artful and menacing. In his own words, “I want to see wave riding documented the way I see it in my head, and the way I feel it in the sea.”
Film by Mickey Smith and Allan Wilson. Produced by Astray Films
Towers of the Ennedi
Category: Climbing, Travel
Driving for days and days without any roads or certainty, into a hostile central African desert known as The Ennedi… It’ll wear on you, both mentally and physically. Until you find the oasis –a risky first-ascent promised land of untouched and amazing rock spires. “Towers of the Ennedi” is the teenage dream of veteran climber Mark Synnott, and some 30 years later he recruited two young, ambitious climbers to join him on the journey –Alex Honnold and James Pearson.
Produced by Camp 4 Collective for The North Face
Category: Skiing, Biking, Commuting, Surfing, Mountain Lifestyle
Just as our seasons ebb and flow throughout the calendar, so do our outdoor passions –which are often based upon the climates where we dwell. For example, here in the Northeast, winter brings snow, spring sends the snow to the rivers, lakes and oceans, summer warms the waters, and fall churns the surf and water back into snow. On the other hand, certain climates –such as the Coast Mountains of British Columbia — will experience this entire cycle within only a few weeks at a time and throughout the entire winter season. “Zero Degrees” was filmed and produced during a 26-day period in February 2011, and elegantly brings to life how adventure lovers keep themselves busy above and below the freezing level in British Columbia.
Film by Nicolas Teichrob
Art of Flight (Trailer)
Following up a ‘hit’ movie with a sequel can be risky, and we’ve all seen it time and time again. This is not the case for Art of Flight After Travis Rice and Brain Farm Productions released That’s It That’s All in 2008, the bar was set as high as the riders, thanks to the high-def 35mm and Super 16 footage. In 2011, they followed suit. The uber-hyped, high-end “FLIGHT” production features an all-star roster including Jeremy Jones, John Jackson, Mark Landvik and Scotty Lago among others traveling around the world through Jackson Hole, Alaska, Chile, Romania, Austria, Patagonia, and British Columbia.
Produced by Brain Farm. Presented by Red Bull and Quiksilver
Category: Skiing, Conservation
Ambition and positive intent can be contagious. Such is the premise for All.I.Can, a two-year carbon-offset production who’s director aims to inspire its skiing viewers to do all they can for the environment. “All” is a grand view of the global situation. “I” is a segment about people who love to ski. “Can” shows the simple environmental tools we can use in everyday life. A healthy mission and message, we think, as does the deep cast of skiers who traveled to Chile, Morocco, Alaska and British Columbia to spread the word — including Kye Petersen, Mark Abma, Eric Hjorleifson, JP Auclair, Mike Douglas, Ian McIntosh and many others.
Film by Sherpas Cinema
From the Inside Out (Trailer)
Category: Mountain Biking
A good story is best told by its creator; after all, they know the subject the best and can deliver it with the most authentic style. “From the Inside Out” was built upon this school of thought, and the film rightly delivers a firsthand showcase of the core British Columbia freeride mountain biking scene. Featuring some of the top riders in the world — Brandon Semenuk, Steve Smith, Thomas Vanderham, Matt Hunter — who lay claim to the lush and majestic Coast Range of B.C. as the birthplace of freeride MTB, there’s no shortage of technical and style-driven downhill riding.
Directed by The Coastal Crew. Produced by Anthill Films
If the title itself doesn’t imply the underlying theme of this raw mountaineering film, how about the trailer, which opens at -51 degrees Fahrenheit… in a bivy at 21,959 feet under pounding blizzard conditions. This is Cold. On February 2, 2011, Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards became the first winter expedition to successfully climb Gasherbrum 2 –one of Pakistan’s 8,000-meter peaks. A total of 16 expeditions have attempted this winter ascent over the past 26 years, none have succeeded until now.
Film by Cory Richards and Anson Fogel. Available at senderfilms.com
Lost & Found (Trailer)
Category: Surfing, Lifestyle, Industry
Before the digital revolution and luxury of hard drives, our archives of music, photos and videos were stored in boxes and crates, and then stashed in closets and spare bedrooms. In 2007, three random boxes were uncovered at the Rose Bowl flea market. The contents included 30,000 negatives from professional surfing photographers dating between 1972-1993. “Lost & Found” documents the three-year process of tracking down the photographers and their subjects to retell their stories and surfing memories.
Film by Doug Walker
Category: Kayaking, Tribute
The intertwining storylines of travel, sports, friendship, uncertainty and sometimes danger are the compound elements of an epic adventure. Only sometimes, this recipe can take a different course than epic –and end with tragedy. In 2009, kayaking filmmaker Ben Stookesberry had an idea about an epic adventure: to paddle the previously un-navigated Lukuga River in the heart of the Congo. Led by Central Africa kayaking legend Hendri Coetzee, and accompanied by Stookesberry’s long-time kayaking partner, Chris Korbulic, the group was seven weeks into the expedition when a mighty African crocodile silently surfaced and pulled Hendri from his boat. “Kadoma” is a dedication to Coetzee, which was his nickname along the Nile River; meaning both “bravery in the face of a river they fear and respect greatly” and “the little bee that travels and improves lives everywhere it goes.”
Film by Ben Stookesberry. Presented by First Ascent – Eddie Bauer
Chasing Water (Trailer)
Category: Hiking, Paddling, Conservation
Track the distance from Point A to Point B. This trivial math question from high school was intended to prepare you for varying real-life scenarios. Like getting from your home to the store. Concert seats to the bathrooms. Trailhead to the beach. For Peter McBride, his life-long Point A was his backyard, which bordered an irrigation channel. Connected to the Colorado River, the American Nile, McBride wanted to know where the irrigation water went — and how long it would take to get there. Point B, as it turns out, was some 1,500 miles away at the ocean.
Film by Peter McBride. Forge Motion Pictures
Stuck on Earth: Going Where No Band Has Gone Before (Trailer)
Category: Cycling, Music, Conservation
How many times have you heard lyrics in a song, and thought to yourself, “what did they just say?” Fans of Dylan’s later works and Buckwheat’s “Buh-Weet Sings” need not answer, it’s implied. Now, think about how many times that misunderstood lyric has taken you on the journey of a lifetime. Anyone? Well, that’s what happened to the band Ginger Ninjas. They were playing a gig and minding their own business until one of the revelers mistook the “Ride to Believe” chorus, “What does that mean, ‘ride to Belize?'” The drummer yelled back, “Ride to Belize! Let’s ride our bikes on tour all the way through Mexico to Belize!” That’s the back-story and premise to “Stuck on Earth,” a serendipitous documentary that came together through numerous layers of chance. The film was funded through Kickstarter on September 25, 2011 and is in the post-production phase.
Film by José Villalobos