March 18, 2011

23 Feet: only the Necessities—Living Fully by Living Simply.

Taking only what you need - and I'm not talking about your backpack

“Do what you love, the rest comes…it’s true, it really works like that.”

Editor’s intro: inspired by the below? Support grassroots, independent woman-created film by clicking over to Kickstarter and becoming part of the team. I’m posting this fun-raiser here, Allie didn’t post it or ask me to do so. Skip below to read her article. ~ ed.

Simple Living for Outdoor Passions: About this project.

We started filming 23 Feet not knowing who we would meet.

We hit the road and crossed our fingers, hoping that we would be able to find the stories we knew this lifestyle holds.  Whether it was the luck of the road, or the kindness of the community that we were searching for, we were able to connect with some pretty amazing people.  Now we need your help to finish the film and share it in a unique way…

This summer, we are headed back to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California where the film was created, to celebrate living simply and to share the story of 23 Feet. But we’re not showing it in theaters… 23 Feet is about a love for the outdoors, and in that same spirit, we’re building an outdoor theatre that is attached to the airstream itself.

Your funding will directly help us create the Airstream outdoor theatre and complete the post production of the film. We wrapped up filming in the late summer of 2010 and right now all that is left is the sound design and color correction and then we’re up and running. We are now in the process of getting a solar powered generator, a projector, a sound system, and a projection screen that will attach to the Airstream’s awning.

From showing 23 Feet in the beautiful secluded outdoor landscapes to crowded city streets, your donation will help us share the inspiring stories of simple living for an outdoor passion all around the west.

23 Feet Synopsis:

23 Feet is film about a community of people who have made the conscious choice to live simply to do what they love in the great outdoors. Three women set out across the west in their 23 foot, 1970 Airstream to search for the stories of people who have turned their backs on the creature comforts of society to live in school buses, vans, and other small spaces. From an inspiring campfire chat with legendary Yosemite climber Ron Kauk, to hearing the powerful story of a woman who changed her whole life for surfing, 23 Feet gives an intimate look at the ups and downs of dedicating your life to your outdoor passion.

Project location: Portland, OR

Original article follows:


Making the conscious choice of what (and even who) is in our lives.

Sitting in a tiny closet with walls covered floor to celling in foam and blankets, I turned off the lamp that was the only source of light in this three by three foot space.  The door was closed and I didn’t know if it was the heat from the lamp or my nerves but 2 minutes in and I was already sweating. I sat there in the dark, unaware of the sound of a garbage truck outside. Silence… I opened my computer, looked at the words on the screen, tried to remember the tone I wanted to use, swallowed hard and waited for Pete to tell me to start.

Today I narrated my first film.

Once I got past cringing at hearing my “dora the explorer” voice through the speakers, and became aware of my total lack of annunciating, things went relatively smoothly.  When we were past any mumbling issues, I would say a line, Pete and my business partner Sarah would see if it worked with the footage, and then it was placed in the film’s sound design. BAM. Next line.

Sarah and I had worked on this narration for hours. No… Weeks.  There were times when I looked up at her in my tiny airstream home (a little bit bigger then the narration closet) and thought – wow, its sunny outside (which is not too often in February in Portland) and this woman has been here for hours in this 23 foot aluminum can with me passionately discussing whether or not we should use the word “home” or “community”.

Sarah dedicated her time and heart to making this film happen, and she knew, like I did, it was important to get every word right.  Because what we were crafting was not only a story, but a poem.

Tiny screening in a tiny home

Last November I was lucky enough to attend a filmmakers workshop at the Banff Mountain Film  and Book Festival.  I connected with other filmmakers, of all levels of experience, and we were able to share our stories and ask questions that are simply not answerable on an online forum or website.

During the last day of the workshop, we were able to sit one-on-one with the instructors Keith Partridge and Micheal Brown.  At this point, I had been in post production of 23 Feet since September, but felt lost in where the story was going.  The film holds some of the most powerful of personal stories from people who I have come to care deeply for.  Stories of loneliness, fear, passion, and defiance.  I was fearful that I wouldn’t do it all justice.  That the audience wouldn’t understand, and would get the wrong idea about the lifestyle I was trying to capture.  I lost sleep and stayed up all hours of the night terrified that I would let these people and their stories down, and that I would not be able to tell their stories well, if at all.

the madness of building a story

I sat down with Michael and I told him where I was at.  Michael smiled at me, he had seen the trailer, but more importantly, he had known these stories.  He told me one simple thing that I will never forget, and it has now adopted not only into my practice of storytelling, but the way I live my life.

He said – Its a poem.

He went on to explain that when you write a poem, you are not putting in any thing in the poem that does’t need to be there.  You are choosing your words precisely, describing only what is necessary to convey the story.

Then it clicked.  All this time I had been trying to fit it all in.  I was striving to give the most objective, all inclusive view, a silver platter serving of a glimpse into lifestyle I was hoping people would tread lightly on.

I suddenly realized what was right in front of me.

I held the opportunity to tell the story of six amazing people striving after their outdoor passions without a care for a stereotype. Not asking for permission and unafraid of going against the grain, they were living their lives with no apologies – a conscious poem.

So, why would I do them the disservice of sugar coating it for the audience?  We made a film about Dirtbags.  There.  I said it. DIRTBAGS.  (look here for more information about what a dirtbag is) and dirtbags only need the essentials to live fully, just like a poem.

Katie Lambert in Tuolumne Meadows

After my focus turned to crafting the poem of the film, I started to think about this conscious poem idea in other aspects of my life.  Sure, the last year I have made it my resolution to live more simply and cut out what I don’t need, but it all had to do with material objects, energy, or waste.  I wanted to start choosing the emotional aspects of my life just as consciously as the words in a poem, or in the material things I let in my 23 foot home.  Crating a poem of the things I wanted in my own story, my own life.

When I said the last line of the narration I poked my head out of the sound room closet and light came flooding in.  The first thing I saw was Sarah sitting on the couch grinning ear to ear and nodding to say “that was a good take”. I smiled at her and my eyes welled up. I knew that we had finally finished the poem.  After almost a year of crafting this film, it all boiled down to this – and that was all that needed to be said.

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