A year and a half has now passed since Al Humphreys and I walked 1000 miles through the Empty Quarter desert, and it's just over six months since we were finally able to screen the film for the first time at the wonderful Royal Geographical Society. How time flies.
We made that film, on one level, to chart our journey and to improve our skills as filmmakers, but mostly we made it to show the beauty and simplicity of adventure. Al and I are both passionate about encouraging everyone to escape into the wilds as often as possible, and making a film that we could share with a wide audience was a great platform for that message.
We also found, pleasantly, that we really loved travelling in Oman and the U.A.E. The landscapes were stunning, of course, but it was the people we met that made this trip memorable. Oil workers, truck drivers and government officials stopped to chat with us in the sands, some even treating us to ridiculously great gifts of watermelons, Pepsis and even ice-cream (in the desert!) A secondary aim of this project quickly became showing that positive, friendly side of the Middle East, and doing our bit in redressing the majorly negative media coverage the region often receives from the West.
We've been really chuffed with the positive reception to our film. It's played in quite a few festivals already, and sold well on DVD and download. For a bit of fun (and perhaps a bit of self-indulgent ego-building...) Al and I recently began to create a map of all the countries our film had been shown in. Rather annoyingly, it seems that the movie is now much more well-travelled than I am!
The map below shows the places where Into The Empty Quarter has been seen. It occurred to us that it would be really fun to try and get it seen in every country on the planet (next stop, world domination?) Aside from giving us a good story at dinner parties, the real reason for this is to spread those same messages that inspired us to create this film in the first place - that adventure is simple and wonderful and accessible, and that the Middle East is not a place to be feared (rather one to be enjoyed and appreciated by all.)
So here's what we're going to do. If you have a friend in any of the countries where our film has NOT been seen yet (the grey spaces on the map - hover the mouse over them to see the name if your geography isn't great!) then send me their email address and I'll send them a free film as a small gift from Al and I. That way, hopefully, everyone is a winner.
So where are your most exotically based friends? Or perhaps you're currently somewhere very exciting yourself? Or maybe there's someone you know that has been exiled somewhere grim and far-flung...in any case, get in touch! Either comment on this post or send me an email and I'll get a free copy of the film sent out straight away.