Saturday, March 31, 2012

Live the Dream

                                                                                                  Photo: Seth Warren
Just another day in the life of my sister Sara.  Yes, that's her dog on the back of her paddleboard.  Yes, that's an eagle ray jumping out of the water next to her.  No, she's not on vacation.  She actually lives down there in Mexico, where stuff like this happens all the time.  Or at least she did last week.  She's a bit hard to keep track of actually.

Let me see if I can keep this all straight...  At the end of 2010, she left an awesome job at Leave No Trace for an equally awesome job with 5 Gyres.  Temporarily putting Boulder behind her, she started 2011 on a sailboat traveling from Namibia to Uruguay, researching plastic pollution in the ocean.  After hanging out in Argentina for a bit, she returned to the States to spend a month in Florida learning to hang glide at Wallaby Ranch, while fellow adventurer Seth Warren filmed her progress.  She left again to sail from Tahiti to the Cook Islands, then met back up with Seth for more hang gliding in Montana.  There was also a bit of stand up paddleboarding in there I think.  After that, back to Boulder to get her dive master certification and to work as producer of the Adventure Film Festival, where Seth's Playgrounds Re-Imagined was among the many incredible films shown.  Then, only days after the festival's conclusion, she wrapped up the year by heading to Mexico with Seth to spend the winter paddleboarding, surfing, diving, and kiteboarding.

                                                                                                 Photo: Seth Warren
But back to the hang gliding for a minute.  A week from today I'll be in Florida for the premiere of Live the Dream, Seth's stunning documentary about Sara taking flight.  Having seen Seth's last film, and knowing how much work he was putting into this one, I was already psyched to see it.  Then I saw the trailer, and was blown away.

As you probably noticed, the trailer was released as part of their Kickstarter project, through which they're raising funds to help them meet their post-production costs.  I recently caught up with Sara and Seth as they were driving from Boulder to Florida, and asked them a few questions about it.

Robin: Tell me a bit about your project.
Sara & Seth: “Live The Dream” was a film first before it became a Kickstarter project, but even before that it was a story that took place just in Florida before it became a story across the nation – so I guess you can say that good things have a way of growing. Knowing that, we decided to put the film out to the community – our friends, families, and fellow adventurers – to help us rally the last bit of funding we needed to finish the project.

Robin: How did you decide to do a film together?
Seth: I had an opportunity to make a film about flying, so it was natural to invite the coolest person I knew.
Sara: I needed an excuse to leave Buenos Aires, and learning how to fly was about the best one I could think of. I knew Seth from years of working in the Outdoor Industry, and was familiar with his films because we had chosen them for Adventure Film, so I trusted and respected his work already.

Robin: So why hang gliding?
Sara: Why not? ;) The real offer to do the film came about when Seth traveled to Florida a couple of years ago and met Malcolm Jones, the owner of Wallaby Ranch, through doing aero-towing lessons. Malcolm mentioned to Seth that if he ever wanted to make a film that promoted the sport of hang gliding in a fun and responsible way, he would help support the project. A year and a lot of dreaming later, and it finally came to fruition.

On a more basic level of “why,” I would just say it was the natural progression – for me at least. I’ve always had a love of the outdoors, and of exploring different elements – snow, water, waves, rock. Vertical ascent is something that has spoken to me deeply for so much of my adult life, primarily through rock climbing, and flight seemed to be the natural extension from there. What do you do when you get to the top of the mountain? It used to be you turned around and hiked off, or rappelled down. Now I think about going higher.

Robin: It was originally supposed to be a shorter project, right?  How did it change over the course of the filming?
Seth: We were having too much fun. And Sara fell in love with the sport, so I figured why not continue shooting it.  That’s how good stories are made: when it goes beyond the initial plan, and the story becomes its own and comes to life.

Robin: Did you have a favorite moment from the experience?
Seth: Filming at Tarkio in Montana for Sara’s first foot launch. It was a unique experience that wasn’t going to repeat itself, so I wanted to make sure I got all the angles I would need for the film. I set up one tripod at the top, mounted two cameras on Sara’s glider, then set up my glider and flew down 1,500 ft. to the landing zone, and filmed from below, for a total of 4 angles.
Sara: Flying in Washington, and popping up above the ridge line to see 360 degree view that I’ve only ever seen from the airplane window flying in to Seattle – Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and the Cascades.  It was the most incredible, spiritual experience ever.

Robin: Were there any big challenges in getting the footage?
Seth: Yeah! The biggest challenge was being covert, and filming, but not interrupting the teaching and especially in the areas where it took all of Sara’s concentration to do what it was she had to do. Especially the first foot launch and the first solo.

Robin: Both of you hang glide, but who's better?
Seth: Sara’s a faster learner.
Sara: Seth’s been doing it longer, and has really good intuition.

Robin: Are you still flying?
Seth: Oh hell yeah.
Sara: Does dreaming count? We took a few months off to go south, but my wings are itching. We’re excited to be back at Wallaby Ranch again in just a few days!

Robin: Any upcoming adventures?
Seth: Always.
Sara: Life, as it turns out.

Robin: What advice would you give, either to aspiring film makers, or to those wishing they had your lifestyle?
Seth: If you can dream it, you can do it.
Sara: Be creative. Figure out who YOU are, what makes you happy, and what you have to offer the world – then go do that.

Robin: Anything you'd like to add?
Sara & Seth: We’re so fortunate to have an opportunity like Kickstarter that lets us help others dreams and projects come to fruition. Little donations totally add up, and if you don’t believe us, check out our Kickstarter page! We’ve had some big donors, but lots of small ones, and in the end, everybody is invested in the same thing.  It’s pretty amazing.

Thanks you two, and looking forward to seeing you in a week!

For more information about Live the Dream, or to make donations to the project, be sure to visit their Kickstarter page.  

                                                                                                 Photo: Seth Warren

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