The Eddy Feeling: A Look at Linville Gorge and Why We Paddle

by David Miller Apr 1, 2009

The Eddy Feeling is the first ‘kayak movie’ that doesn’t just show whitewater footage but follows the lives of various characters while examining the question: why do people paddle?

The thing I loved best about The Eddy Feeling is that the narrator never actually says what the Eddy Feeling “is.” Instead he simply takes you to this place unlike any other–Linville Gorge–and gets you fired up to go paddle.

I hit up producer and director Spencer Cooke for a quick Q and A about the production:

What’s the storyline of the Eddy Feeling?

Essentially it is a broad story about why kayakers kayak. The film is interwoven with a parallel story about the Linville Gorge in North Carolina. Two of the people in the film are brothers, Tom and Jamie McEwan, who made the first known kayak descents of the gorge.

The Linville is known as the Grand Canyon of the East Coast. It’s a micro version of the Grand anyway. As you find out in the film, it is the most remote gorge on the Eastern seaboard, very secluded and wild.

The Eddy Feeling takes you from stories of these first descents in the 1970s and brings you all the way to present-day kayaking, all the while introducing five other kayakers chosen as a sample population of the paddlers out there.

One person is a civil engineer, one is a banker, a couple of the folks are kayaking instructors, then you have the token pro paddler, and one is a sales manager at an accessory company.

This type of project must have presented different challenges to you as a filmmaker than a typical paddle movie. Did you have a certain methodology you followed?

Yes, the story was tough to write. It took three or four more months to edit than I had anticipated because I was having trouble making all the parts fall into the right place.

I shot the entire film with a concept of my final product but without the story actually being written. I knew the message I was trying to convey and was able to capture that in all the interviews.

Nothing was rehearsed on the part of the characters, it was all candid. Guiding them with my questioning was the key to getting them to say the things I was looking for, but they were all quite unique and genuine in their delivery.

How did making other paddlefilms help (or not) in the transition to this type of film.

I’ve made a number of other paddlefilms, none of which have had this platform. The ‘action to music’ model is a fairly simple one to manufacture and can be well done if the content is compelling and the edit is tight.

A huge part of the success of a music driven, action video has to do with the music itself, the song, the sound. There are pieces of The Eddy Feeling that represent that type of film, and I feel I had a lot of experience editing that style being that most of my previous work has been just that.

I got a lot of inspiration from The Green Race Movie which I co-produced with Chris Gallaway, who also contributes to, and who won two film festivals with his film last year.

Chris actually contributed a substantial amount of footage to my film and gave me some very crucial critiques that helped sway the way I edited and formed my script. As well, two other close friends and colleagues, Daniel Windham and Chris Gragtmans, also featured as filmmakers on, contributed considerably to the film and impressed positively upon my storytelling through their critiques and comments.

I think the most valuable assets I had while working through this project was not the editing I’ve done on my own but more so the co-production that I’ve experienced with the aforementioned people. That has been the nature of our collective group, Rapid Transit, to help one another, to critique, study and get creative with the influence of people you respect and enjoy kayaking with.

Premier Schedule and Links

The film will show at some colleges, kayak shops and perhaps some other paddling events throughout the year. Click here for dates and times of showings that are occurring or have occurred. The premiere schedule is listed in the comments below the main body.

To order The Eddy Feeling as well as other top productions from Rapid Transit, please visit their store.

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