Slipping through my fingers: Filming the Jondachi, Day 4

Our talented paddler’s name is Brayan Robles. He is 17 years old and from Tena, Ecuador.  I met Brayan last March after I was in Tena solo and looking for good people to paddle with. He doesn’t speak English and for some reason my Spanish turns to beginner level when I am around him.  It is annoying.

Brayan was filmed once kayaking for a tourism commercial that was aired during the Super Bowl. He was filmed running the upper waterfall on the Hollin River for the All You Need is Ecuador campaign. See him at the 1:50 mark.

The reason I am saying this is because today we showed up at the Jondachi River and it was the best possible flow we could imagine. Problem is: Brayan was so stoked about this that we never really got to coach him on how to really film a river and do it right. Filming on a waterfall is much different than trying to capture a river.

Rapha Boudreault showed up last night and we have some extra talent behind the lens today. We are comparing the shooting of this river to how we shot the Made In Canada episode of the Taureau. We had an amazing system for filming that river with three cameramen and we literally leapfrogged each other down the river and filmed each other.

The day started with paddling down the Urqueseki with the group to get to the foot bridge on the Jondachi.  We had a porter carry the drone down to that location to meet us. From there Emrick and Raph went to work doing what they do best; crushing aerial shots. They are just so good at this. 


From there it was time to go down the river and redo the magic we did on the Taureau.

Let’s just say it didn’t exactly go to plan.  Brayan would get up ahead of us and paddle through all the beautiful rapids. I had to ask him more than once to stop so that we could film him.  Finally I blew up and yelled at him. I think I really caught him off guard.  I was able to get my Spanish back with him.

I said to him ‘Do you want this to be a movie about you fishing or kayaking?’   I also explained to him that people from around the world think this river is the best and most scenic river going. It is his backyard run and I don’t think he fully grasps that idea.

I definitely upset him.  I got him down and frustrated. He even swore at me in English.  I explained to him that this was not something worth getting upset over and he is a friend first and the talent second. We just want to shoot the river the best we can.


We finally got to work. But I knew that some of the most scenic whitewater was behind us. We had to do the best we could to make this video pop in the whitewater section. The Jondachi is just so incredibly beautiful.  I have never been on a river that is as amazing as this.  The canyons overlap a river filled with rapids and massive polished boulders. It is magical.  Not to mention the whitewater is so much fun. 

It is difficult enough that it is worth showing on film but not so hard that it is the most extreme thing going. Rivers like that are really hard to bring out and make look special. This is the challenge and with Brayan rallying so much of it I felt like sand was slipping through my fingers.

The part that saved us is that we had three cameras going. I feel like we got it but even with that we took out in the dark. Long day. 

Dan really did a great job of helping Brayan and I work this program out. He is so calm and willing to work with us to make sure this all comes together.  He has so much passion for this project and is putting his all into it. 

Tomorrow is the last day of shooting. We are going to tie up loose ends, go back to the Gran Canion, and make sure we got this in the bag.  It has been a ton of work and I want to just paddle the Jondachi with the boys on Saturday.  Everyone has worked so hard and come from so far that seems like the thing to do.