Just what exactly does one do in a backcountry yurt during winter in the Colorado mountains? MatadorU student Brian Lewis’ film answers that question in a way that’s simple, but inspiring.
Matador Productions editor Eric Warren caught up with Brian to ask him a few questions about the film, and why he chose to tell this story with video.
EW: The film blends beautiful visuals with compelling narrative voice-over. What were some of your influences both in film and writing?
BL: I was influenced by the simplistic lifestyle that one ends up experiencing in a place like a yurt. When you strip away modern conveniences and spend a few days high in the mountains in the dead of winter, your mind clears and you starting thinking differently about what’s important. You fall into a routine that’s very different from your normal “civilized” life. Having done several yurt trips before this one, I knew what to expect and I was mainly influenced by trying to capture that feeling and routine. I wrote most of the narrative at the yurt and was inspired by the sights, sounds, and smells around me and the things we’d done that day.
I’d love to hear the story behind the film. What was your original goal putting together this film?
With this film I set out to try and answer the question: “Why?” This was my sixth winter doing a yurt trip in Colorado, and it typically seemed when people heard about what I was doing, their first instinct was to question my sanity. For many people, the idea of snowshoeing for hours with a heavy pack to reach a remote canvas structure in the dead of winter seems a bit ridiculous, especially when they learn there’s no electricity, cell service, running water, indoor toilet, or room service. So my main purpose for the film was to try and provide some reasoning for this “thing we do.”
What made you choose to tell this story through film? What about film makes it the perfect storytelling device for this story in particular?
Film allowed me to blend narrative audio, time-lapse photography, video imagery, and sound effects to tell the story and convey a sense of place. With the visuals I wanted to depict the safety, warmth, and comfort of the yurt’s interior and contrast that with wide shots of sweeping landscapes and the beautiful but unforgiving nature outside the yurt. The sound design complemented this with wind sweeping through the exterior scenes and “comfort sounds” like crackling fire and bacon frying in the interior scenes. Only in film is such a blending of media possible.
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Brian works to balance a teaching career with a never-ending quest for adventure and exploration that takes him from the wilds of his Colorado backyard to the far corners of the globe.