Sharing the Love: Why Make a Kayak Movie?
Whatever your passion or hobby may be, you can probably pick out one moment that you first experienced this activity, or the moment that you truly fell in love with it. For me, I slowly fell in love with life on the river through many trips with my family as a child. But I distinctly remember the moment that I decided to dedicate my life to kayaking.
I remember the rush I got from the first rapid I ‘accidentally’ ran in a hard shell kayak (without my fathers approval) on the John Day River in Oregon. The rest of the group was already downstream, and instead of pulling over on the side of the river, I decided to point my bow downstream and paddle as hard as my little arms could. It probably looks like a short set of ripples to me now, but I remember so clearly being full of life, energy and happiness in that moment.
After driving back and forth down WA Hwy 141, seeing dozens of colorful boats on top of cars and sitting next to the White Salmon River, I dragged my mom into the Kayak Shed and convinced her to buy my first kayak film. I popped open the plastic case of Bigger than Rodeo and stuck it in the DVD player, anxiously forcing the sliding drawer shut. That DVD, among many others, got played more times than I can count over the next few years as I grew obsessed with kayaking and the lifestyle that it brings; traveling, friends, wild places, adrenaline and creativity. That DVD was another distinct memory I have of falling in love with the sport of kayaking: watching through the lens of a camera where I could one day go.
Now, eleven years since I watched my first paddling film and soon after bought my very first kayak, my brother Todd and I decided to make our own kayaking film, For the Love, to share with the world.
Kayaking films were once a norm, with yearly releases featuring the world’s most passionate paddlers on the most incredible rivers around the globe. But for the past four years, there hasn’t been a feature-length kayaking film released. Why? Some may speculate that it is lack of support from the industry, or perhaps online videos have taken over the market?
Whatever the cause may be, there are some important reasons why we should continue to make and support feature-length kayaking films.
For me, the first reason is: community. Creating short online videos solely to share on the web has done little for me to bring the kayaking community together in a fun atmosphere. It took many more people than just my brother and I to produce For the Love, it was created through the many talented hands and passionate minds of the paddling community.
One of the most exciting parts of this film was showing it to hundreds of people in theaters across the country. Other than annual river festivals and races, there is no better way to bring a community together, an aspect of kayaking films that I have missed for many years.
Another prominent reason we chose to create a feature-length film was to inspire others. I may never have realized that I wanted to stick with kayaking if it wasn’t for that old disk that I stuck in the DVD player when I was eleven. Since, it has inspired me to create a physical copy of a film that I can pass down to the next generation of kayakers. I want them to have something that they can watch on repeat, and which inspires them to get outside, go on adventures and explore the many beautiful rivers of this world.
As kids growing up in the Columbia River Gorge and specifically on the White Salmon River, my brother Todd and I couldn’t have asked for a better community to show us the ways of the river from a young age. If it wasn’t for this community, which happens to be made up of some of the filmmakers we looked up to in our youth, we may never have found the inspiration and network of people that helped make our film possible.
Today, there are many kayak camps and community floats on the White Salmon and its neighboring rivers, in which kids of all ages can participate to hone in their skills. I hope that kayaking films also continue to play their role in inspiring the next generation to pick up a paddle, sit in a boat and appreciate rivers and the natural world in a special way.
Follow the Wells brothers’ adventures and stay tuned for future film releases at Mountain Mind Collective. See what the community is all about at the 2017 White Salmon River Fest, featuring kayaking events, a community float, and more.