By Fitz Cahall; video still by Byran Smith
“As a modern-day adventure filmmaker, I feel pretty lucky, because there isn’t a technological burden,” says Bryan Smith, owner of Reel Water Productions and co-creator of Fringe Elements. “You can go out and buy a relatively good camera for a very cheap amount of money. The burden is really finding your story. It’s about finding the motivation to go out and do it. There are fewer hurdles today.”
Fast, Affordable Video Sharing
Technologically savvy adventurers have been attempting to relay adventures online in a video format since the late 1990s. But in the last few years, adventure film has gone through a renaissance. First, fast cable and Ethernet connections spread beyond college dorms and office spaces, allowing for efficient downloading and sharing through YouTube, Vimeo, and like sites. Online outdoor communities grew in size, providing a stage for enthusiasts to share links and spread content through the community.
“All of a sudden there was a way of distributing the videos and finding an audience without having to create a DVD and find sponsors,” says Smith, who began his career by making short Internet films about his adventures kayaking on British Columbia’s wild rivers and coastlines.
“The Internet was this huge exploding space where we could put our material out there,” adds Smith. “I feel lucky to have grown up in the era where the DVD was starting to come second to the Internet.”
Professional Tools for Non-Professionals
Additionally, the hurdles for aspiring filmmakers fell away. Hollywood pioneered the use of digital video, but HD digital video rapidly trickled down to the average consumer. Making a film no longer required film or the painstaking process of editing reel or tape together. Software such as Final Cut Pro made editing more accessible. Canon and Nikon offered up HDSLR cameras in a compact body that allowed enthusiastic adventurers a small setup that was easy to move in the backcountry’s difficult working environments.
For outdoor enthusiasts looking for escapes from workday doldrums or friends sharing content through Facebook, there has never been more free, high-quality content targeted for the adventure crowd. With the technology continuing to improve and the number of filmmakers growing, there shouldn’t be a shortage of content any time soon.
Better Gear at Better Prices
“Gear isn’t cheap, but it’s no longer cost-prohibitive,” says Smith. “I think people who make it in the film world, one, have a good eye for images, but two, and probably more important, have a great ear for a story.”
—By Fitz Cahall
- Nat Geo Expeditions