Analise Smith

Winner of the Outdoor Adventure Film Grant

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Photography by Ashley Courter.

Analise has never spent more than one night outdoors. But before this summer’s over, she’ll have not only spent 10 nights outdoors, but she’ll have also backpacked 325 miles from Bend to Roseburg. As winners of the Outdoor Adventure Film Grant, Analise, along with fellow filmmakers Aly Nicklas and Meredith Meeks, will film the bold adventure across Oregon to creatively explore the barriers of accessing the wilderness when one isn’t raised with a close relationship to it.

Three Sisters, Three Rivers won the second annual grant, addressing this year’s theme, Oregon’s Outdoors Are for Everyone. Provided by the Oregon Made Creative Foundation, along with Travel Oregon, the $20,000 grant works to showcase “the diversity of people, spirit, passion, and excitement” of outdoor adventure filmmaking in Oregon. We spoke with Analise about how she’s been preparing for the trek, and how she hopes such an intimate filming of her experience will connect with others.

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What has been your experience with the outdoors up to this point?

I've had a very limited experience with camping. I've never spent more than a single night outdoors and have only set up a tent once in my life. I'm super nervous about cougars and coyotes, and also the wolves are back! Or so I've heard. But I'm also really excited to learn how to do all of these things so that I can be less reliant on other people when I want to explore nature on my own, as well as support less experienced folks when they are able to join me. These are skills I should have learned a long time ago, and I'm excited to get started!

How are you preparing for the trip physically and mentally?

The producers have provided a gym membership, and REI provided bikes a little over a month ago. I've never had a gym membership before, so I've been learning and testing the limits of my body through trial and error. I've learned that I was basically living dehydrated and malnourished before this, and it took some time and a doctor to become healthy enough to train as hard as I needed to be able to pursue this.

Mentally, what keeps me going is acknowledging every bit of progress. Every time I go farther in mileage or stronger with weights, I continue to cheer myself on, so I have the right attitude for the work ahead of me. I have lots of great friends who have gone from never seeing me on a bike to watching me ride 40 miles before dinner, and I really appreciate their support.

What does this trip and film mean to you?

I feel like I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to mold myself to fit into these brand stories, and now I’ve found a path that allows me to tell the stories I actually want to tell, and the brands can fit where it makes sense. It’s really changed the opportunities I envision for myself when it comes to blending brands and storytelling. I hope to see more brands shift to investments like these because it allows them to be authentic, as opposed to paying agencies to manufacture authenticity.

How does this project fit into your overall creative practice?

I'm learning so much from Aly Nicklas on this endeavor. In her work, she is often the director, producer, editor, and accountant. I consider myself capable at creative framing and eliciting emotion, but there is SO MUCH TO LEARN. I'm lucky to be in her hands because I know she is really invested in her role as a mentor. We're both excited that we can use this grant to bridge the gaps in our stories and blend our talents.

This is definitely a transitional moment for me creatively, and I feel very grateful to Travel Oregon and Aly for working with me to elevate to the next level. My film work thus far has been quite experimental and more ethereal, and I think those elements are going to play nicely on such an intimate and tender journey.

What do you hope the impact of the project will be?

I hope it will bring a different perspective to the adventure film circuit, and I hope it will connect with folks beyond those already established in the adventure film world. I want to share this with people like me who have always wanted to go camping but would feel foolish doing it on their own. There are so many little things that can make the outdoors feel inaccessible to people who weren't nurtured into that lifestyle. I hope we can inform and make that part a little less intimidating and a lot more welcoming.

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