I released my newest short film, “Trust,” a couple of days ago and have been blown away and humbled by the incredible response I’ve received. This was a very special short film to put together because it wasn’t just about another hunting season, it was about sharing my relationship with the natural world, specifically through film and time lapse photography.
I’m usually pretty good with words, but I’ve never been able to find the right words to justify how I feel about the natural world, and for that I am extremely grateful. Blurting out, “Man, I just LOVE the outdoors, it is so me, it’s who I am,” didn’t feel genuine and, to be honest, I always felt like it was an insult to Mother Nature. You can call me weird for thinking like that, I honestly don’t care, but the day I start publicizing my love and connection to the natural world in such a manner is the day those emotions can no longer genuinely be found in my heart.
So I thought to myself, “How can I portray such an indescribable emotion?” The answer to that question, and the beginning of this film, actually started in late July of last year while I was in the Bahamas. I had been hired to document a group of American basketball players travel to a new country, play against foreign competition, and take in new culture.
One of the many perks of the job was I had the afternoons to myself to wander around the islands and take in some of the beautiful scenery. On my first or second afternoon I was walking around the beaches when I saw a Catholic cross standing by itself on a tiny peninsula that stuck out into the Atlantic due West. I’m not Catholic, but I thought it would make for a killer photo, so off I went. I didn’t judge the distance very well, because what I thought would be about a half mile walk actually turned out to be closer to three, and the sun was quickly fading. I was sweating profusely, my feet were cramping from walking through the thick sand, and the sandwich I ate back at the hotel was close to reintroducing itself to me. But I kept pushing forward. I thought to myself, “ I’ve invested this much, sacrificed an entire afternoon, and worked hard to get the shot location, I’ll be rewarded with a killer photo, no doubt. I deserve it after all of this.”
I wasn’t. About 150 yards from the peninsula I was met with impenetrable rocks. No big deal, I’ll just walk around. Couldn’t do that either. Privacy gates protected by pit bulls and Dobermans shielded my path on one side, and the ocean to the other. I had lost. I had invested so much of myself only to come away with nothing. It was at that point that I realized the natural world really could care less about what you think you deserve because of what you’ve sacrificed or how much you’ve invested. The natural world takes care of those who persevere, those who have Faith in their purpose and those who make the most of their opportunities. And, aha, the story was born.
I’m not going to sit here and share with you the entire storyboard and outline, because I don’t want to insult your intelligence. You were blessed with a creative mind, open it! The whole story is obviously based on a shared trust with Faith in a bigger picture between me, the hunter, and the natural world, and I wanted the film and its shots to reflect as such. I wanted to appear small to the world, hence the wide angle shots. I wanted to struggle, despite the invested effort, and I wanted to persevere. I relied heavily on time lapse photography, especially in the latter half of the film, to symbolize the fact that life and opportunity can briskly pass you by why you’re left trying to figure out what’s happened. And I wanted my Faith to have a subtle, but powerful role in the film. And finally, I wanted the shots to reflect a shared understanding of my role in the bigger picture.
I simply wanted to convey a simple message. Regardless of how much you’ve sacrificed and invested, it becomes dwarfed in comparison to the enormity of the natural world. What does it take to be successful? To me, it takes perseverance, putting your nose to the grind stone day in and day out and having Faith in your purpose. How do you ensure that you won’t get swallowed whole by the world? Simple. Trust.