Photo courtesy of Sarah Wood

5Point Film Festival Is Adventure Travel Storytelling

by Eric Warren Apr 16, 2013

Over the last six years, the 5Point Film Festival has established itself as one of the ultimate festivals for the adventure community. Its films push adventurers to go bigger and inspire filmmakers to find and tell deeper stories. It’s also one of the sickest parties anywhere.

I caught up with 5Point Executive Director Sarah Wood to get the skinny on what makes 5Point one of the coolest venues to premiere a film, to hang out with great people, and to get stoked for your next adventure.

EW: Can you give a brief overview of 5Point?

SW: 5Point Film Festival is in its 6th year, conceptualized by Julie Kennedy and Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. Julie and Yvon reminisced on the days the outdoor “tribe” came together and showed their adventures through film. Julie wanted to inspire audiences the way she was once inspired, and so, 5Point Film was born.

5Point stands for our 5 guiding principles: Balance, Humility, Purpose, Respect, and Commitment. Our festival, the special guests, and the films themselves must embody some or all of these principles. The films are not all about skiing, kayaking, climbing, etc. but those endeavors are a backdrop to showcasing art through storytelling, creative production, and films with an amazing human element. We want to inspire adventure, whatever that may mean to the audience member and not just the traditional definition.

Through the films we choose, we’re on a mission to inspire adventure of all kinds, connect generations through a shared experience, engage passion with a conscience, and educate through film. We give back through 1% for the Planet and our Dream Project Scholarship for high schoolers looking to pursue their dreams.

What separates 5Point from the rest of the pack of adventure film fests like Banff Mountain and Sheffield Adventure?

We have several differences. Structurally, we orchestrate an event which is a total shared experience for everyone who comes. We don’t overlap film programming, and we have one venue that we build within the gymnasium at the Carbondale Rec Center. This becomes the biggest and best film venue in the valley, seating 800 people per program. We often hear from the filmmakers that the projection and audio quality is the absolute best they experience at any festival. 5Point continues to make efforts to ensure we are bringing the highest quality experience to the audience in this way.

5Point is also mostly a shorts fest. We only have one feature-length spot in our program. The vast majority of our programming is under 20 minutes. We choreograph our evening programs in a very thoughtful way to really take the audience on a ride and evoke different emotions. Our goals are to inspire our audience through the whole experience, not necessarily by one film or another…it’s the experience as a whole that makes our festival a bit different.

We’re more interested in the human element and the story than seeing someone huck themselves off a cliff repeatedly.

As far as films and differences there, we seek great stories, not the biggest air, or gnarliest rapids, etc. Sometimes the artistic quality of an “adventure porn” piece makes it in, and those are certainly sprinkled throughout the festival, but the meat of the fest are the stories and the people behind those stories. We have over 50 films this year, over 30 special guests. There are no barriers between the filmmakers, athletes, and stars of these films. The people, the community, and the quality of film really set us apart.

5Point also plays a role as a producer on some projects each year. In a small way we’re able to help projects come to completion and play a role in helping promote the projects after our festival. Sometimes this takes the form of simply connecting a great story with a filmmaker or artist, and sometimes it’s simply seeing the potential in a project and helping fund the production. We feel so grateful for the filmmakers and artists that support the festival with their amazing work, that it’s the least we can do to help grow the genre through the support we can give.

Who is the ideal 5Point participant? Filmmaker?

5Point is really for everyone. From our All Ages Program to our evening programs, this content reaches 6-year-olds to 60-year-olds, and that is who we truly see in our audience each night. Someone who aspires to get into the outdoors, or aspires to take on a new challenge in their life…or someone primed to be inspired to figure out how they can live their best life…that’s the ideal audience member…because they will leave moved to take the next step in their adventure.

What does the panel deciding on the films look for when selecting films for the festival?

GREAT STORY. 5Points. Inspiring subjects or backdrops in the outdoors. Sense of adventure. QUALITY storytelling and superb filmmaking. Artistic. As an adventure film festival, our core films tell stories within the backdrop of biking, skiing, surfing, kayaking, climbing, and other adventure sports, but we’re not afraid to step out of these constraints if a film deeply embodies our five guiding principles: respect, commitment, humility, purpose, and balance.

We’re more interested in the human element and the story than seeing someone huck themselves off a cliff repeatedly. If it inspires adventure of any kind…we are interested.

What is the Not-to-be-Missed event of the 2013 festival weekend?

Ohh there are so many! If I could only go to one day of the festival I would go to Saturday, because you can hit two live podcast recordings, the Enormocast with Chris Kalous, and Dirt Bag Diaries with Fitz Cahall, an all-ages program, feature-length film program The Crash Reel with Kevin Pearce in person that afternoon, and a stellar evening program. Not to mention there’s a community picnic midday that day with life-sized yard games, climbing at the rec center, and the Hell Roaring String Band.

Saturday has a little something for everyone, but I would say you definitely don’t want to miss The Crash Reel Saturday afternoon. Kevin Pearce will be here to do a little Q&A after the film. This film premiered at Sundance this past January, and is a story of recovery and comeback after a traumatic brain injury by pro-snowboarder Pearce.

Each evening program though has a little surprise for the audience. So you’ll be missing out if you don’t come to each program.

What is the future of 5Point? Do you see it getting Banff big (almost 2 weeks of films/events, etc.), or does being a bit smaller add to its character?

It’s hard to think about 5Point at a Banff scale. With the campus they have up there and the resources, man o man that would be amazing…but hey that’s not to say we can’t dream big!

I do think that at a certain capacity you reach a very intimate experience that perhaps, if larger in scale or venue, we would lose. We do have plans for growth online, and have a few other cities on our radar for doing one-night events to start.

The biggest component to growth for 5Point Film is integrating the community. That’s what makes our big festival come off with such electricity…the community here. We couldn’t do it without them, and we also want to be realistic about being able to create that kind of experience in other communities. Whether it’s a one-night indoor event or outdoor screening, we want to bring the festival vibe to each event we produce. That’s the magic that 5Point Film produces and sets us apart from a traditional film festival “tour.”

Another component is the film production. 5Point has played a small but unique roll in helping pull together stories, filmmakers, and artists to produce some very unique and award-winning content. 5Point Film is working on what role we play in this space as a producer moving forward.

We’re working on what that strategy could look like now, and are planning to test the recipe in a few markets this fall. Stay tuned…

2013’s 5Point Film Festival takes place at the Carbondale, CO Recreation Center, April 25 – 28. For more info on the event, check out 5Point Film’s website.

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