Produced by NRS Films, directed by Skip Armstrong and starring Ben Marr, Dream is about as surreal of a kayak vid as you’ll ever see. With camerawork and other help provided by the likes of Erik Boomer, Eric Parker, Matt Baker, Chris Korbulic and Rush Sturges, the clip traces a deranged Marr from unconfident rookie into the dream world we all have of being a kayaking star, complete with dancing panda bears…
Armstrong: I’d been wanting to do a fun and creative piece for a while, something that was joyful, weird and decidedly different. This is what arrived to me. On the first night of our shoot our production coordinator, Jay Gifford, mentioned that he had a Sasquatch suit. As the words came out of his mouth our entire team got excited. Jay’s suit actually was never found, but fortunately Portland, Oregon, is nearby and you wouldn’t believe what kind of props you can find. We were very close to having big bird, a unicorn and a giant frog in the film, too.
Marr:Originally, I was using my Dagger Mamba for daytime and Nomad for night, but I had a little swim in the Nomad, so we started only using the Mamba, though the Nomad was eventually recovered. The boats were rigged up with LED lights powered by power pack in my boat.
Armstrong: Eric Parker actually took quite a digger doing that back flip in the Sasquatch suit. He came up coughing up blood (sorry Eric’s Mom — we kept a close eye on him). He had a drysuit on under the Sasquatch fur, but he forgot to zip up his relief zipper. So, it was a pretty cold swim for him.
Marr: Eric totally sent that. I paddled to him as fast as I could, but the suit was pretty heavy and soggy because he forgot to do up the pee zip before he jumped. He took a huge hit when he landed and came up coughing up blood. He said it was one of the most painful things he’s ever been through.
Armstrong:Nobody else saw us out on the river because of the weird hours we filmed. But we made up for it by driving around Portland with the suits on. We rented them and returned them quite wet. Fortunately, we didn’t incur any extra fees. The ladies were awesome at the store! They loved what we were up to.
The party scene was also a lot of fun to film. One time Benny came cruising by all the cameras laughing hysterically because he couldn’t see anything as he was paddling downstream. It was a good time.
Armstrong: We fastened 150 feet of waterproof LED lights to the bottom of the boat with clear shipping tape. I built two circuits that were each powered by lightweight lithium-ion batteries. Benny kept the batteries in a drybag in his boat. All the parts are available on Amazon and are quite affordable. I had to bust out my Boy Scout soldering skills and there was quite a bit of trial and error in the beginning, but we loved how it turned out. We had to re-tape the lights after each night. It’d be cool to figure out how to keep them more permanently attached without creating too much drag on the bottom of the boat. As for the fireworks, I signed an agreement when I bought them in Idaho that I wouldn’t ignite them in Idaho. I can honestly say that I honored that agreement. Originally, I had envisioned a fancy detonation system that was wireless and perfectly synchronized between the two sides of the river. In the end, we did it the old-fashioned way. Chris Korbulic and Eric Parker used cigarette lighters and lit them by hand. They then filmed Benny running the drop from the top of the waterfall. If you watch closely you can see Eric behind the firework as Benny goes off the drop in the final piece. Not the prettiest way to detonate fireworks, but certainly effective.
Marr:Running the waterfalls at night was weird. I’ve paddled at night before a lot of times, but never creeking. You’re missing a lot of information compared to daytime paddling; it’s often hard to see where to place your next stroke. Paddling with the fireworks was weird, also. Mainly, it made me anxious. For the main shot we only had so many fireworks and it was hard to time my descent with the climax of the explosions.
Armstrong: A six-episode expedition series for NRS is in the works and I’d love to dream up some more creative and silly projects. My personal dream is to one day shoot narrative fiction as a member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
Marr:I felt like that rookie depicted in the video for sure, especially when the YGP crew came to the Ottawa when I was younger. I also remember freaking out seeing Ken Whiting and Tyler Curtis on the water before.
I’m currently nursing a shoulder injury so I’m biding my time and hoping to take advantage of all the water in Quebec and Ontario for some big wave surfing. We found a real awesome new wave this year that I want to spend time on. I’m also planning on heading to Russia later on.
View Dream HERE.