The Epicocity Project has been around since 2003 as a loose collection of athletes and filmmakers centered around the larger than life hair and ambition of Trip Jennings. In the past year, the crew has evolved from a group of elite creekers and playboaters with an environmental bent, to a team of expedition paddlers intent on shedding light onto the world’s most threatened drainages. That philosophy has led to collaborations with international non-profits like the World Wildlife Fund and multiple grants from the National Geographic Society. Andy Maser gave us a bit more on what they’ve been up to.
So, first off, tell us what your last year consisted of?
My last year was a blur of world travel. We picked three of the wildest locations possible to visit, almost back to back to back. We started with a two-month exploratory caving and kayaking mission to Papua New Guinea, then did a two-month investigation of the cultural implications of dam building in western China and Tibet and finally traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to complete the first successful descent of the Lower Congo River’s massive rapids. We produced TV shorts for National Geographic, filmed a Nat Geo Explorers Special, produced a short film and wrote and shot photos for several feature articles. Needless to say, we’ve been busy!
How bad of an idea is it to do three expeditions in one year?
Doing three expeditions of that scope so close together was a bad idea only in that it was mentally overwhelming. Somewhat surprisingly, we were physically able to handle the schedule and we had the energy to get excited for each trip. What became difficult was processing all of the experiences we were having. Imagine being pushed to your mental limit to process new experiences for weeks on end, punctuated with life threatening moments and curious locals who, literally, do not leave you alone for a minute. Then add on top of that the journalistic responsibilities of capturing these moments. It’s our dream job, but it certainly is not easy.
What’s on your table now? And what can we expect as EP’s next step?
Right now we’re finally taking the time to do post production on all of the media we gathered during the last year. To give you an idea of the lag time we’re dealing with, we’re just now finishing the first round of media from our China expedition that was in March and April of this year. We’re also doing film work for the Save The Wild Rogue campaign and negotiating with National Geographic for 2009 projects. We’re going to carry this momentum into 2009 with at least two more international expeditions with expanded media coverage.
What’s different about than what you were doing in the time of Mission Epicocity and Bigger than Rodeo?
We did Mission Epicocity when we were in college. We were students first and producers second at that point, and the primary focus of our media was adventure. EP is now a full-time commitment for us and we now produce media that blends adventure with science, conservation and culture. We’ve added depth to our stories and taken them to a larger market.
What trip was your biggest accomplishment, what was your favorite and what was the hardest?
Congo felt like it was the biggest accomplishment, as it was the first time we were hired to help shoot an hour-long episode for National Geographic domestic. Papua New Guinea was certainly the hardest, as we spent the better part of a month wandering through steep, wet and thorny jungle. China was the most developed of the countries we visited this year, and had more comforts as a result. Overall, Papua New Guinea was my favorite though because of the overall combination of cultural difference, lack of westernization and difficulty.
So Trip’s kind of the point guy, you’re an editor and web geek, and Kyle’s a photographer and writer, is that about right? So, what makes it work so well?
That’s about right. EP works well together because the three of us bring complimentary skills to the table with just enough overlap to be able to understand and help each other, but not so much to create redundancy. We don’t need each other to do our own individual tasks, but we do need each other to make the whole puzzle possible. We’re fiercely independent workers who have brought our talents together to exponentially increase our potential. It’s cool. I think we’d all doing fine as individuals but together we’ve been able too build something that’s truly unique in the kayaking world. Picture this: Gaia, Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi and Ma-Ti are all individually capable of great things, but combined, they are Captain Planet…