Living in a RV, traveling and working summers as a Park Ranger is my chosen lifestyle so I was intrigued when a film student in Florida asked to film me for a school project, a living nomadically & connecting to nature documentary.
“I am Gabriel, a student filmmaker at the College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University. My reason for contacting you is that I am searching for subjects for a documentary on the nomadic lifestyle as well as nature travel within the United States, and my crew and I are highly fascinated in your experiences. We would be very interested in having you in our short documentary.
”Our College is one of the top film schools in the nation, and our documentaries are screened at film festivals around the world, including South by Southwest and Cannes Film Festival.
Our crew plans to be in production only a few days between the dates of February 29th 2016 and March 20th 2016, just to give you an idea of the time period for filming. Please let me know if you would be interested in allowing me to have this opportunity with you, or if you would like any additional information.”
At first I was leery. I checked him out on FB and YouTube. Looked to see if his school was legitimate. Then cautiously replied to his email. I am an information type person so I asked questions.
“Thank you. I am flattered by your interest in my nomadic lifestyle. I would be interested in what you’re looking for in this documentary. I am curious about the direction, goals and objectives of your film. How do I fit in? What drew you to study Motion Picture Arts? I am currently in southern Utah so also wonder how you would handle filming.”
And his reply:
“With this short film, I look to observe the nomadic way of life not as a category of how to live, but as a way of being that exists in all of us. I hope to take an artistic and philosophical approach, taking visual cues from nature photography such as your own, to convey visually the feeling of living nomadically. Overall, I’d say the goal of the film is to inspire others to wander, explore, and pursue whatever adventure they do so desire; To get in touch with nature and pass on a chain of inspiration.
“In fact, I’d say it’s film’s ability to inspire which led me to pursue filmmaking. I see film as a combination of many different art forms, and through it, I’m able to cooperate and learn with other thinkers. Film allows for me to apply my own thought and creativity, as well as to explore the ideas and knowledge of others. It’s a way for me to never stop learning, exploring, and sharing. I appreciate your question!
“As for yourself and how you fit into the project, the experiences you have are absolutely breathtaking, and I would love to interview you to learn from you and share your knowledge on nature, as well as views of living as a nomad.
“Also, I must say, from early on in the conceptualization of this project, the color and tone of your work has been a driving element in visualizing what we hope to achieve for the look and feel of this film. You are able to capture such grandeur in your surroundings, and with our film, we hope to be able to capture the feeling of awe and vastness that so many of your photos emit so strongly.”
This young man totally impressed me. I felt a kindred spirit. And, of course, was most definitely flattered. I agreed but did warn him I’m no guru.
We continued to communicate and before long it was time for Gabriel’s visit, along with his crew Jordan and Tiara who would also be working on their own projects. Jordan is looking at the changing images of fashion models and Tiara’s film highlights the issue of litter on hiking trails while encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors.
March 3, 2016
After driving cross country via Denver and some filming in the Rockies the “crew” arrived in Kanab, settled into a local hotel, and came over to my 5th-wheel home in the morning. They quickly set up their equipment for an interview. At the same time Tiara was contacting a camera company about shipping back an almost new camera that had quit working. These three young folks were very professional and yet in a relaxing fun way. Jordan operated the camera, Tiara the sound and Director Gabriel had his list of questions. We made plans for their next three days here then called Bill and we met him for a hike on the Bunting Trail before going to dinner at my favorite place in town, Escobars Mexican Restaurant.
A few of the questions & answers:
“On your website you have your Herstory, and it’s so much fun to read. One of the earlier titles you have is “Grow up? Never!” Can you describe this way of thinking?” I guess we all have to grow old because it beats the alternative but hopefully we can hang on to the child within continuing to see the wonder of the world with new eyes and an open mind.
“Can you describe what it is that motivates you to travel?” Seeing new places, meeting new people and continued learning about myself and the world.
“Can you recall a single defining moment when you decided to take off and become a full time wanderer?” My first road trip in 1976 living in a Vega for 2 1/2 months took me from Illinois to the Southwest then north along the west coast and back east. An experience I’ll never forget.
Tiara Bunting Trail
March 4, 2016
Gabriel had permission to film in Bryce Canyon National Park. So after looking at the weather patterns we decided Friday was our best window in between possible storms. Originally, Bill was going to drive us all there, but his truck was in for repairs so I drove my truck with camper as we’d not all have fit in their compact car. We left at 8am for the 2+ hour drive with Jordan in the front seat filming me along the way and just talked like old friends with an occasional specific question from Gabriel.
It was nippy and windy in the park but we were all dressed for it. Drove to the end of the scenic drive then stopped at most of the overlooks on the way back. Seemed like they took a lot of film of me just standing, staring off in space at the beauty of the red-rock hoodoo filled landscape. But then that’s not difficult for me to do.
Now keep in mind none of these three had ever visited Utah and were all blown away by the spectacular beauty of the red-rock country.
Sure didn’t hurt to have some nice white contrast from the snow on the ground.
I was so busy being directed to walk here, there and back again, stopping to gaze into the distance, that I didn’t take very many photos that day.
Unfortunately, most of the trails were buried in snow. Not like we really had time to do much hiking. I would have loved to show them Wall Street for it’s opportunity to BE among the hoodoos but it’s mostly in the shade and closed. The girls did walk a little ways down the Navajo Trail and were spent when they returned to the top not being used to the elevation.
March 5, 2016
Started the day with more interview questions, many prompted by some of our previous day’s conversation. Then a walk on the local K-Hill trail plus some drive by shootings with me in my truck.
Again I didn’t take many photos but couldn’t resist the flowers blooming along the trail.
Clouds were building which made for an amazing sky over Kanab but also shortened our film session. Yet we had one more day left, we thought.
A few more questions & answers:
“Why is it important to see that there’s so much more out there besides landmark destinations?” Life is about the journey, not necessarily the destination. We need to enjoy the trip.
“Can you describe how the nomadic way of life isn’t considered as the norm?” Since humans have settled down to a sentient lifestyle being nomadic isn’t the most acceptable “norm”. But who wants to be normal anyway.
“What advice would you give to someone who is considering trying out the lifestyle?” Go for it!! You’ll never know if you don’t try it. That goes for everything new in life. If you don’t like it, that’s OK. Try something else. Follow your own dreams.
March 6, 2016
That morning Gabriel called to say their last remaining camera had died so they would be leaving a day early. They still had filming to do in Texas were they would have to rent a camera. Throughout they stayed so calm and collected. I was totally impressed with their professionalism throughout the experience. Such delightfully fun new friends.
We hugged and said sad goodbyes and safe journey.
Later, I asked these three industrious students what they got out of this experience:
Gabriel: “Documentaries are ours to give knowledge and to inspire one’s audience through the story one shares. However, I was unaware of just how much I myself would learn and be inspired when filming with Gaelyn during these past days.
“I admittedly tend to spend a bit too much time exploring thoughts in my own head, and so to physically explore the American West for the first time with Gaelyn was genuinely a profound experience. It became even more extraordinary as we had Gaelyn, our fellow Gypsy Ranger, to share first-hand knowledge on the story of the land – a land which almost feels illusionary in front of your eyes. In filming this documentary on Gaelyn’s experience and insights on living nomadically and connecting to the Earth, I’ve been able to gain new outlooks and understandings that can’t be described as knowledge, but rather something deeper.
“Hanging out with Gaelyn, simply put, is just so much fun. I feel I’ve developed a stronger eagerness to learn, see new things, and explore every possibility. I’m excited for when the film is completed, to share Gaelyn’s insights and to inspire myself all over again.”
Jordan: “I had the opportunity to work with Gabriel as his director of photography on this film. As soon as he pitched the idea of exploring the life of a nomadic person, I was intrigued. The first day we met Gaelyn, I knew she was going to have amazing stories for us to share. Over the three days we spent with her, we learned so much about geography, exploration, and life. It was an honor to be able to capture life from her perspective and I cannot wait for us to be able to show this film to an audience.”
Tiara: “Working as sound recordist I had the opportunity to really listen and take in what you had to say. It was inspiring and empowering. It really made me want to get outdoors and explore. Which we did plenty of during the trip thankfully. Being able to explore Utah during the course of filming Gabe’s documentary was a great privilege. Such a unique landscape and what made it so much better was that I got to enjoy it with friends old and new.”
This was also a learning experience for me. It takes lots of hours of film to make a short documentary. I can shut up and follow directions sometimes. If a documentary is suppose to inspire others, these students are inspirational as well. I am a teacher, in the informal sense. I love to learn and share experiences and stories. What better than a ‘documentary’ with its Latin root docere meaning to teach or instruct.
So when will the debut be? Well, I’m not certain. This film is Gabriel’s school project and will be submitted to various film festivals. He expects it to be complete by the end of next month and although I’ll be able to watch it online through a private link I won’t be able to share it. At least not right away. So I guess you’ll just have to wait until it comes out in a theater near you.
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