Q & A With Jesse Coombs: PL Gets The Lowdown Straight From The Man Himself


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First Ascent, the Eddie Bauer line of world-class expedition gear, has joined forces with the world-class guides to produce the kayak adventure film “Hotel Charley Vol. 5”. The film follows Jesse Coombs, Darin McQuoid and Ben Stookesberry as they seek first descents around the world. The crew recently finished a promotional tour, and PL caught up with Jesse for the inside scoop. Here’s what the 2006 National Geographic Adventurer of the year had to say about his most recent adventure:

Hey Jesse,

•How is the tour going thus far? How has the response been?

The film tour has been amazing! We have shown in two new festivals due to our sponsorship with Eddie Bauer First Ascent: Telluride during the Mountain Film Festival and Teva Mountain Games. There is even more buzz about this year’s film than ever before. Plus this film is our best received yet with very positive feedback.

•What types of people come to the shows?

The types of people that come to the shows vary widely. This in from the core white water enthusiast who is kayaking every weekend to the general public who are interested in seeing a new adventure and every type of person in between. We get lots of families and tons of kids who often sit on the ground in front of the screen. The common thread is that everyone loves to come out and see what crazy adventures we have just had and let us take them on the journey. And everyone enjoys the question and answer opportunity after the film to learn more from us as adventures and film makers.

•What do you find most interesting about the people you meet while on tour?

What I find most interesting about the people we meet on tour is how down to earth they are. Everyone is genuinely intrigued by the film and by what we do. And sense we are so approachable they are not afraid to ask us personal questions about the journeys as well as more logistical questions. It seems everyone wants to know more about how we are able to make these difficult expeditions work as they are anything else. I very much enjoy getting to know the people who ask questions and find us after the show to express their gratitude.

•How is it to see all of your travel and hard work come to fruition on the screen? Is it surreal?

Seeing all of our travel and hard work put to 50 minutes on screen is both gratifying and surreal. We take a lot of pride in all the hard work and effort that goes into the expeditions as well as the film making. To see it presented as our passion to be shared with an audience who is enthusiastic and appreciative is very gratifying and also a bit surreal to comprehend. At the same time showing the film to so many people in your presence is humbling and at times makes me feel a bit vulnerable. It is humbling and vulnerable feeling in the sense that we are giving others a window into our lives at some of the most difficult junctures of our lives. To give your best effort in completing trips that include triumph as well as difficulty can expose many things about you as a person. And to present our creative film of these adventures means you are providing the opportunity for criticism both constructive and developmental. We pour our entire energy into these projects, and then show them to large audiences. In this very basic sense, I hope people will like it and find it enjoyable.

•How is being on the road for the film tour different from adventure travel?

Being on the road for the film tour is absolutely nothing like adventure travel. For expedition adventure travel we are constantly on the move looking for the next river to run and kayaking and filming as much as possible. And we are responsible only to each other as a team. On film tour we are driving a set schedule for close to a month, spending almost all of our time in social settings while kayaking very little. And we are responsible to our tour hosts and all the people we meet. By the end of each tour we are anxious to get back to kayaking and camping at the rivers.

•Do you find that some of the same people have come to each of the movies you’ve done thus far? How have they seen the films evolve?

We certainly see a lot of the same people from year to year as tour the films. We get two main points of feedback from these repeat viewers. One is that they always look forward to us coming to town because we have the most exotic adventures and that we tell a complete story that includes a sense of place, culture, adventure, team and storyline. They say this is a refreshing change from other films that are more about highlighting the athletes. The other common point of feedback is that they say our films have improved every year and that they enjoy our presentation for being professional and approachable.

•What’s the best part about showing the film to so many different people?

The best part of showing the film to so many different people is that they all are genuinely appreciative of what we do and of us sharing our passion with them. It honestly feels much more like we are sharing our film and passion with our friends than it does to a bunch of strangers in an audience. Everyone is excited when they arrive at the show, applauds at the end of the film, asks great questions and thanks us for coming. It feels nice to connect with people, even if it is just for the evening.

•Since you’ve joined on with Eddie Bauer First Ascent have you seen the crowds change at all? How has having a sponsor like Eddie Bauer changed the reception you’re getting?

Since joining Eddie Bauer First Ascent we have seen the crowds increase and the venues get better and bigger. In many ways the reception we have always gotten has been extremely positive because our approach is consistently humble and approachable. What has changed with sponsorship by Eddie Bauer First Ascent is the recognition associated with a leading outdoor apparel manufacturer. Eddie Bauer is a house hold name that signifies a love for the outdoors and strong brand history that all audiences immediately recognize as a great partner.

•Does showing the film influence your desire to keep making them?

Showing the film on tour could be likened to the pat on the back you get when you have done a great job. It is not the reason we make the film, but we definitely appreciate the support and positive reception we get when we tour the film.

Check out the First Ascent Born Out There Blog for more with Jesse, Darin, Ben and the whole First Ascent crew.

Staff Post
Staff Posthttps://paddlinglife.com
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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