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.
There is so much you can do with a film – so many ways to tell a story, to share a message. It’s a fantastic opportunity (and privilege) to have a platform to say something important. Films, and adventure, can change hearts and minds – entertain, educate, inspire. They can probably be annoying too – it’s another good challenge to try and avoid that.
I’ve loved trying to improve my craft as a filmmaker over the last couple of years, and it’s with nervous excitement that I look forward to the next few months – Festival Season! There’s no point in making these things if no one sees them. The internet has revolutionized how we absorb stories, but I’d argue that there’s no substitute for an old-fashioned cinema experience – a film containing the sweat, blood and tears of the filmmaker being watched by an audience who have chosen, based on the genre, to give up their free time to sit down and be enthralled.
There are no end of great Adventure Film Festivals both in the UK and further afield. To try and make any sort of a qualitative list is silly. I would like to share with you my favourites, though, in no particular order – based simply on experiences as an audience member or when I’ve been fortunate enough to have my film screened there (and, in a couple on instances, festivals that I haven’t been to but have heard so much praise for that it’s impossible to leave them out.)
Have you been to any of these? Where have I missed out? Tell me your favourite in the comments section, or on social media.
Pakistan International Adventure Festival
I got an email last year from the first ever adventure film festival in Pakistan, wanting to show one of my films. I wish I could have gone – it’s fantastic to see such a beautiful country embracing the world of Adventure festivals
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (UK)
One of the first festivals I went to, and one of the best. A great weekend of speakers and event in a city filled with outdoor enthusiasts.
Why Not? Adventure Film Festival (Ireland)
There are a few good festivals in Ireland, but this is my favourite. It’s run by good people, and attended by the same. Galways is a great location too.
Edinburgh Adventure Film Festival (UK)
I limited myself to one Scottish event too, and it’s got to be Edinburgh. The organisers put a lot of effort in to getting great speakers to augment the films
The first touring festival that I came across, and still one of the best
Adventure Travel Film Festival (UK, USA)
This is generally the most madcap festival of my year. Run by the brilliantly eccentric Austin Vince and his talented wife Lois Pryce, it unearths films that you’d never find anywhere else.
Telluride Mountain Film (USA)
Set in Colorado, this is regularly touted as the best American festival around.
The UK’s premiere festival, and to many one of the homes of UK mountain culture. Shamefully, I’ve never yet been. I intend to rectify that soon.
NZ Mountain Film Festival (NZ)
Wanaka and Queenstown are two of the most beautiful towns that I’ve ever been too. That alone is a good enough reason to visit this festival!
Adventure Fest, UK
This was the first festival that a film of mine ever screened at. It does a wonderfully comprehensive tour of the UK, with a stellar gala event in central London
Banff Mountain Film Festival (Canada)
This is probably the biggest of all. Taking places over a week in the Canadian Rockies, it attracts (and accepts) only the best filmmaking talent.
Last year, Alastair and I made the journey there to watch our film in competition. It seemed a great opportunity to fit in another tiny adventure….