Our Members: Artist and Filmmaker Jeremy Collins
AAC Heartland Section Chair, Jeremy Collins, is best known for his amazing artwork and short films. His latest short film DRAWN caught on so quickly that it was backed on Kickstarter in fewer than 10 days. We caught up with Jeremy to learn more about his upcoming film.
AAC: Your upcoming film DRAWN focuses on first ascents you’ve made to the north, south, east, and west of your home. How and when did you get this idea, and why is traveling in the cardinal directions meaningful for you?
Jeremy Collins: The inspiration came in 2009 on a failed attempt to climb Fitz Roy. We were waiting out storms for 25 days or so, and I just felt deflated. Out of that experience, I made the decision to travel in each of the cardinal directions—I’m not entirely sure why. But the more I understood it, embraced it, and invested resources into it, the more I recognized it was something I really wanted to make happen.
AAC: For some climbers it is a lifelong dream to get published in the American Alpine Journal. All four of your DRAWN trips were documented in the AAJ. What might others learn from these journeys?
JC: Simply having the desire to go somewhere is not enough. It’s easy to say “I want to go here or there” or “I want to travel more someday,” but unless you have expendable income, you have to make a plan and stick to it. Sacrifice lattes. Ride your bike to work. Scrimp, save, use your friend’s rack. If you really want to do something, reformat your reality to make it happen. I was also fortunate enough to have help from the AAC’s grants for a couple of my trips.
AAC: Congratulations on getting DRAWN backed on Kickstarter in fewer than 10 days! This is the first time you used the Kickstarter platform. What did you learn?
JC: Putting the project up on Kickstarter was a calculated risk, and it turns out we calculated correctly. I spent days agonizing over the rewards platform to ensure that our backers got the long end of the stick, while still keeping the film financially viable. I think the success shows that people are not only psyched on the rewards, but also believe in this type of storytelling.
AAC: When we talked to you in 2011 you had just premiered your film The Wolf and the Medallion at Adventure Film Festival. Since then you also released The Equation. How has your vision for film changed over time, and where is it headed?
JC: Over time, I have learned that film truly has an impact, which is one of the qualities I value most in art. I don’t make my funky little films just for climbers, but for a universal audience, so it’s important to me to keep my viewers in mind as I work. During production, I remind everyone on the team that we are making art here, not a commercial—the “north star” we should aim for is to help others find their voice, not just to find our own. With DRAWN I also hope to push the boundaries with my animation even further, while bringing in more vérité-style footage to give the film a less scripted feel overall.
AAC: Like some of your other films, we expect DRAWN to have some amazing animated components. What else can you reveal about the upcoming film?
JC: I can tell you there is an animated scene depicting when I woke up in the Vampire Spires to the Aurora Borealis overhead—I’m pretty excited about that one. I don’t want to reveal too much, but there is also a scene from Venezuela where a Pemon tribesman tells Pat Goodman and me the legend of a giant, dinosaur-like bird. Oops—my producer is waving his hands at me; I may have said too much already.
AAC: On your Kickstarter page, you say that you believe film “reaches my audience the most deeply, and gives the closest visceral experience of being out there.” What is it about the medium that you think accomplishes this?
JC: Watching a film in a theater demands the audience’s undivided attention. Usually, we are so distracted by other types of media that it’s almost impossible to sit and watch a 30-minute short without getting a call, a tweet, a tag, or needing to check Facebook. When you go into a theater, there is nothing to pull you away from the story.
AAC: On top of DRAWN you have a ton of other projects going on, including many for the AAC. Your artwork is featured on our newest water bottle in the AAC store and will be appearing in the 2014 American Alpine Journal. And you represent the AAC as the Central Region’s Heartland Chair. You are an amazing believer and supporter! What would you tell someone thinking about joining?
JC: I’m just in it for the chicks. Oh, and the rescue benefits. Ha—honestly, I’m a member of the Club to be a part of something bigger than myself. The community and the camaraderie make it more than worthwhile!
AAC: How can folks still support DRAWN?
JC: Kickstarter enables projects that have already received backing to create “stretch goals,” so I might as well dream big. If we make it to $85,000, we will upgrade the hardware for our editing team. At $100,000, we’ll add to our animation artist team to add some extra punch to the animated sequences. And if we can raise $125,000, we’ll take the film on a North American tour. There are still a few days left to donate, and we have a great line up of goodies for our backers, including the book DRAWN from Mountaineers Books, and shirts from Meridian Line. Unfortunately, my used down puffy and used old piton sold on day one.
You can contribute to Jeremy’s campaign by visiting his Kickstarter page. Jeremy’s artwork will be featured in the 2014 American Alpine Journal and on 100 limited-edition hardcover AAJs. Each copy features the Mt. Whitney artwork seen above and are hand-numbered and signed by Jeremy on the inside cover. AAC members, upgrade your AAJ to hardcover before they are gone!
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