It's now nearly three years since I set off into the Empty Quarter desert; it's just under two since the film premiered at the Royal Geographical Society. It's been one of the most rewarding pieces of creative work that I've been part of, and I'm still amazed the the great response we get to the movie. Ultimately, it was an incredibly fun journey which we were fortunate to have had.
One of the main aims of the film was to show a different side to the Middle East - a side that doesn't get much airtime. Hopefully we've done that - we've taken the feature film round festivals, sold it on DVD and as downloads, and now even got it out to broadcast too.
There's also a short version of the film - 20 minutes long, which was created for festivals and events that were limited on time. It too has been well received, and we figured the time has come to put that out to all of you to watch, anytime, anyplace, for free.
So here it is - if you haven't seen it, I'm proud to present to you Into The Empty Quarter!
If you'd like to see the feature version (2 1/2 times as long!), then you can do so here. If you enjoy the film, then do check out our little follow up movie below...
When I first started going on adventures, I did so just for me. I went out into the world naïve and full of wonder, with no idea of what I’d find or if I’d enjoy it (or if I could cope with it.) I expected though that whatever happened, it would be a passing fad – a phase I went ‘through’, coming out the other side normal and sedentary.
Luckily, I never did make it out. I got happily stuck in a cycle of trying to make my life as adventurous as possible. I was also fortunate to discover other passions – writing, storytelling, filmmaking; various ways of sharing my experiences. Writing is maybe what comes most naturally to me, but it is filmmaking that I see as perhaps the biggest challenge.
Making films of the journeys that I’ve been on has been one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced – equal (almost) to the trips themselves.
Over the last few months, Tom and I have faced a serious dilemma over what to do with our film from the Santa Cruz river. Do we bide our time - slowly refining and tweaking until we get exactly the film that we want to create- or, do we put a full stop to it and try to get it out as quickly as possible?
The complexity arises, of course, because of the time-sensitive nature of the dams project on the Rio Santa Cruz. For anyone new to the issue, then a (vastly simplified) summary would go something like this:
The Rio Santa Cruz is the last large free flowing glacial river in Argentina. Two huge dams are due to be built on it, despite the lack of an official impact study. The case has been held up in the Supreme Court for months, but it seems likely the project will be allowed to continue.
Tom and I arrived in Patagonia with the goal of being open-minded to the dams. It’s a fact that Argentina is suffering from a power crisis, and the purported energy boost from the dams would be well-received. What we found, however, was a project riddled with holes; oversights in the planning, issues swept under the table. We became convinced that the dams - at least in their current form - were not just a bad idea, they were potentially disastrous for the environment and ecosystem of the Santa Cruz valley.
Our film is still at the ‘tweaking’ stage. We’ve tried to temper the desire to show our document of the river at this fragile point in time, with the thought that this film has got to tell the story in the right way (and in a form that will have some longevity, pointing to the universality of this battle between nature and progress.)
In the meantime, we’ve created a website - www.riosantacruzfilm.com with some of the basic facts and resources around the issue in Patagonia. We’ve also put together a short film, gathering together some thoughts of the local people and major members of the opposition to the dams.
I’d love to hear what you think of the video. I’d love it even more if you’d visit the website and spend some time there. It will grow as things develop and more information becomes available, so keep an eye on it. There's still a chance things will change. Tom and I are going to try and help the cause as much as we possibly can.