Where have you been all my life?!

It’s always a little disquieting to stumble upon something that you should have been a part of all along. It’s like wandering into a room  and you find all of your friends having a party. It’s not that you were intentionally not-invited, it’s that you somehow missed all of the signs taped to every wall in your house.

Sure, it sucks that you weren’t at the party from the beginning, but now that you’re here, you might as well join in.

That’s how I felt when I fell into “The Dirtbag Diaries,” produced by Fitz Cahall. The worst part is that the signs for the party were basically taped to my forehead, and I still missed them! I’ve been following Fitz Cahall through his amazing collaboration with Bryan Smith on “The Season,” a web TV series following climbers, mountain bikers, snowboarders, etc through a season of trying to live the adventures they set out to complete.

Using the word ‘enamored’ to describe my feelings for both “The Season” and “The Dirtbag Diaries” would be drastic understatements. I’ve downloaded every podcast of “The Dirtbag Diaries” available and pretty much have it on an IV drip. You may think that it would be impossible to edit video footage of interviews while listening to Fitz telling amazing stories of adventurers, but somehow I manage.

Search itunes for “The Dirtbag Diaries” or check them out HERE.

Also, check out the beautifully narrated and filmed “The Love Letter.” You’ll be so glad you did.

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I’m Featured on a Trip Films Blog Post

This week I was featured, along with several other TripFilms filmmakers, offering tips on exporting videos for use on the Trip Films web site. I really hope it helps someone dealing with the difficulties of video. I had weeks of problems getting videos up that didn’t weird lines when things were moving through the frame. Online forums were hopelessly opaque regarding “deinterlacing,” which turned out to be the majority of my problems.

Eventually, I learned the trick for Adobe Premiere Elements, which you can read about, along with tips from other filmmakers, here.

Harbor Fish Market Video – Portland Travel Videos – Tripfilms

Harbor Fish Market Video – Portland Travel Videos – Tripfilms.

I kneel down in the middle of a floor soaked in icy water, feeling the wetness seep into the fabric of my pants. The scent of fish hangs thick in the air. People around me make an effort not to pay attention to what I’m doing. I hit “record” and pan across the scene, following a woman named Patty as she packages lobsters up in brown paper bags. I stop recording and let the euphoric “I got the shot” feeling spread through me. It’s tempered by the fact that I don’t have time to replay the footage to be sure–and, of course, Patty has moved on to her other duties. I move into my next position to catch the next quick clip.  The location is Harbor Fish Market on Custom House Wharf in Portland, Maine, and this is my latest freelance gig: hometown video correspondent for tripfilms.com. For them, I’ll be shooting 10 1-minute films about Portland. I’m very excited to be working with these guys, since, in a very practical way, they put me on the path to living one of my long-forgotten dreams: Travel Show Host.
Not long ago, you had to be very cool, charismatic, and–most important–backed by a network to be a travel show host. For a while during the mid-90’s I would rush home to find out where Lonely Planet’s “Globe Trekkers” Ian and Justine were headed to next. I wanted to be one of these guys, jet-setting to exotic locals, meeting interesting people and eating cringe-worthy local delicacies.  Eventually, my interests moved on to things that don’t require a production crew and I lost touch with my yearning to take people out into the world from their livingrooms. Last winter, the bike/ski shop I work at opened a new location at a XC ski center. Embedded in the center’s web-page was an amateur video made by a film student about the trails. This use of video on a webpage reminded me of a statement I heard several times while attending the SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) Travel Writing/Photography Institute: because high bandwidth is becoming more common, video is THE THING to get into. I typed “travel, video” into a search engine and was deposited into TripFilms.com. I saw a bunch of people traveling, and creating travel videos. Though most didn’t have the polished feel of a “Travel Channel” production, they had every bit as much heart, were every bit as deep in the culture and appeared to have just as much fun. Plus, these filmmakers were fully independent! A few more clicks of the mouse led me to an extraordinary revelation. HD camcorders capable of creating decent quality video were less than a $1000! In less than 15 years, technology has completely altered the landscape. Since scraping together the money to buy my camera and software, I have signed on as an intern for Matador TV. Looking for “the best travel content on the web” led me to an overwhelming amount of awesome filmmakers from solo travelers looking into a camera at arm’s length to full-scale productions. I also found Web Series like “In Transit” and “Brainrotting” and “The Season.” These series showed me that a person can actually produce a TV show with multiple episodes themselves. People like David Adams and Peter Bragiel are stars. Now I’m a star, too–well, not yet. But I am living my travel host dream.

mountain biking on the monture trail, montana

Farewell, Mountain: A riding Retrospective on Monture Trail, Montana [Mountain Bike Tales]

Here’s the link to my most recent story appearing in Mountain Bike Tales:

Farewell, Mountain: A riding Retrospective on Monture Trail, Montana

The story has roots in a ride I took with friends Aaron Teasdale and Rod Kramer a few years back on one of the trails most in danger of closure in the United States. With the current situation of Montana (and the greater US) trails getting more perilous, I wove it together with the recent Federal Court ruling closing trails in a WSA near Bozeman that threatens access everywhere. The story is an adventure of hope.

Transitions make the Heart Grow Fonder

I’ve been taking a lot of time off from writing on my blog.  A lot of time off from writing on my novel project.  A lot of time off from fiction in general.  I haven’t been taking a lot of time off.  While on a short leave from fiction, I’ve been writing articles for the Matador Network, working with New England Mountain Bike Association and most importantly, in a transitionary sense, shooting some video.

What’s a novelist with no kids doing shooting video?  Funny you should ask.  It brings me to an admission.  I don’t know what to do with my life.  Just when I think I have myself nailed down, I do something that defies my conventions.  I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, moving from fiction to travel writing (or photography) and back.  I’m convinced I like adventure and the grass always looks greener on the other side.  Well, I’ve strayed way to the other side this time.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a fan of documentaries.  You get to watch a true story unfold in front of you.  That love only compounded with the invention of The Travel Channel.  I would search the cable listings to find shows like The Lonely Planet series with Ian and Justine or The World’s Most Dangerous Places with Robert Young Pelton.  For an hour each afternoon I would be swept away to another world.  I was addicted to travel and Ian and Justine were my dealers.  (Pelton’s the kind of dealer that pushes you past the gateway drug into the more dangerous stuff…)  But what these guys were peddling was the free sample.  And for most viewers, that’s all they needed.  I, however, need the real stuff.  The stuff of adventure.

Enter my new HD camcorder.  Armed with a new way to see and show the world around me, I’m hoping it will be the catalyst of a more significant change in my life.  A change that will take me out into the world, rather than just watching it from the sidelines.  I already have a few projects in mind and you can read about them here:  Life’s Fast

I’ll still be writing fiction, but my tiny amount of free-time will be divided between passions (as it always has been.)  In the end, I hope that this transition makes me a better, more dynamic writer of fiction with a fresh passion that only a little distance can provide.

5 Best Places to Keep Your Adventure Sports Alive During Winter [Matador Network]

New travel article for Matador Network about the 5 best places to keep your adventure sports alive during winter. It features five incredible indoor adventure parks around the world.