Getting Through the Unexpected: Filming the Jondachi

Sometimes things don’t go to plan.

After 3 days in Ecuador we officially have nothing to show for it.  Well, maybe some logistics and ground work but no footage to work with.

Despite all the planning to go into this project it was the things I couldn’t control that had me nervous going in.  Unfortunately, all of those seem to have come together in a perfect storm over the past three days: extremely high river levels (especially on the Jondachi), uncooperative weather (non-stop rain), and, worst of all, the two other guys on the film crew are sick. Sick to the point that they are bed ridden.  Sick to the point that we had to cancel the shoot while on location to get them back to the hotel.

Trying to coordinate an ambitious project like this has taken a lot of planning in the weeks leading up to this. Now with 5 days left on the ground to get this short film completed we have to make sure everything goes to plan from here on out.foodprep

Everyone is really excited about this project and it is a great story.  I spent a lot of time bringing everything together over the course of three months and right now I am sitting in Tena, Ecuador just hoping that tomorrow goes to plan and that there is no more rain tonight.  Please, rain gods, no more rain.

Our producer is Guy Erb. Guy is from San Francisco and he has true passion for rivers.  It is incredible to be working with someone who can see the potential of a great story and knows the language that a visual piece can provide to those who haven’t had the chance to see and experience these wonderful places.

Our main talent is Brayan Robles. He is a young Ecuadorian paddler with a lot of talent. He has been a great sport as we go through what seems to be endless logistics and coordination for nothing to actually happen.

circleOur ‘fixer’ and man on the ground is Dan Dixon. He is a story unto himself and a legendary paddler and adventurer. Dan is here to pull all the hard parts together which is mainly getting us access to the people for the story and to really make everything happen on the ground.

Luckily with the inability to shoot, Dan and I were able to get a week’s worth of logistics out of the way and therefore everything should be in place for some big days ahead… or, at least we hope so.

Tomorrow should be a shoot on the Upper Jondachi. We expect to leave one crew member behind and in bed for the day.  Emrick Blanchette and I will likely paddle and shoot the river as much as possible and hope to walk away with some incredible kayaking footage. 

On the brighter side, most rivers in this region are really fun to kayak when they are super high.

Here is a selection of photos from our logistics day planning with the Shaman in Santo Domingo as well as pulling together some of the essential items we will need (including a massive catfish).

Read more of the adventure in part 2.