I’m keeping the format of these updates very fluid on purpose. I’d like to eventually settle into a format that makes sense each month, like including consistent sections. But for now, as this is primarily an opportunity to document and process what I’ve gone through the past month, I’m allowing myself to write whatever I think is most pertinent.

August started out with a full week of filming on client productions which I found both enjoying and challenging. I like filming because it requires juggling many moving pieces. I had an assistant with me, and he was fairly new, so I had to manage him while also managing the client’s confidence in me, while actually doing the work and executing each shot in a way that captures an element of the core story we’re trying to convey. And preparation helps. When I am confident in my plan, my energy on that day can be diverted into one less thing.

I think my biggest mistake was not having a detailed enough plan. Space always deserves to be available for unplanned moments on set which can sometimes be the most powerful assets, but you need to have a detailed plan to create the foundation from which you can improvise with poise. I managed production well but I think the end product could have a more compelling story if I had spent a little more time at the beginning of the process. 

After that first full week of filming I spent 17 days (effectively the rest of the month) in Ecuador. Matt Coda recruited my help in shooting his second Timelapse film, created to document all the beautiful, wild, and unique landscapes of Ecuador. It’s hard to describe the experience down there. To avoid explaining the whole thing, I’ll write a list of words that describe it and show you a picture below:

Timelapse, Cotopaxi, Quito, food poisioning, Aji, llamas, El Angel, DR650s, dirtbikes, trails, cold, wind, altitude, no entiendo, frailejones, polylepis, cloud forest, fruit juice, huevos, café, papaya, mirador, Colombia, kilometers, crater lakes, volcanoes, nature, sun, clouds, data, cameras, jeep, helmet, gopro, military, Juan.

While in Ecuador, I took more time than I usually take to read. Here are the 3 books I dove into this month:

On The Nose by Hans Florine – This book is largely about the history of The Nose, which is the most iconic climbing route on the face of El Capitan, Yosemite’s 3000-foot behemoth. This route has enamored climbers since its first ascent in 1958, and Hans Florine has been maybe the one most possessed by the route, climbing it more than 100 times in his life. This book will be enjoyed by a pretty niche audience, but it pairs nicely with the documentary Valley Uprising, which chronicles the history of climbing in the sport’s mecca, Yosemite Valley.

Originals by Adam Grant – I’m about 30% of the way through this one but it’s quite engaging so far.

Some notable quotes…

“On matters of style, swim with the current. But on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – This one took me a few months to get through. It was slow at times, and I tend to lose steam on books easily. But man, this has got to be one of top 5 favorite books of all time. I’ve wrestled a lot with nihilism, and reason seems to make it difficult to identify inherent values. This book outlines an intense psychological encounter with Moral Law, something I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around. It truly altered my perspective, which was unexpected. If I go any deeper now, the topic will commandeer the whole blog post. Maybe I’ll write something more extended once I can get my thoughts together on it. 

This month I did a lot of doing and not so much thinking. This was good for me because I tend to think too much normally.

The down-side of doing a lot is that things get chaotic, and they need to be re-organized. My natural behavior isn’t to continuously fall narrowly in line with the proper orientation towards my goals — it’s easy to get off track as time goes on if I don’t check in with myself. But this month I felt a little more at peace with the chaos because I knew I would give myself the chance to break it all down and recalibrate at the end of the month.

A quote from Originals gave me some relevant insight. I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the general idea: 

“The more prolific an artist or creator, the greater his chance of originality. Bach, Beethoven, and all the greats produced their best and most celebrated work during the periods within which they produced their highest volume of work. Those periods in which the most minor products appear tend to be the same periods in which the most major works appear.”

I really like this idea. It makes me think of all the things I don’t share because I don’t think they’re complete. It makes me think it’s ok to create a lot of shit that doesn’t see the light of day, or doesn’t deserve to see the light of day. Because as long as I keep the focus creating consistently, as much as I can, the great works will be scattered somewhere among the noise. And that’s just how it goes. Not everything one creates can be great. In fact, most of it will be less than memorable. But if I don’t give myself the chance to create average things, I’ll never happen upon the great ones.

That brings me to the upcoming month. Later this week I’m heading back to Brazil for 10 days, then in the second half of the month I’m going on a 9-day mini-documentary film project to climb Mount Rainier at the end of the month.

This film project is my main focus this month. I want to make sure I have all the equipment/gear I need, and that I have a good storyboard/wishlist of shots going into the trip. I want to give myself every opportunity to film as much as I can, so have a lot to work with in the edit. This is a project where the storyline and ending are unclear, so I just have to engage with the experience and pay attention.

I’ve been trying to lock in a sponsor, and I put a lot of my eggs into one basket which just recently fell through. So even though I don’t have much time before the trip to close one, I’m going to create the film anyways and try to pitch it after the fact — never done it that way before. I wonder how that’ll turn out.

See you next month!