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View Full Version : First impressions: Embrace the Brutalitly



SGT Rock
2013-07-21, 15:18
I just finally got to sit down and watch "Embrace the Brutality (http://www.tbwproductions.com/)" by our good friend Shane "Jester" O'Donnell. I really liked the video, and I will write something more in-depth later on when I have some more time.

Highlights: Beautiful scenery, great use of music to convey mood, and a cast of dozens. Especially notable for me so far was the use of a very upbeat sounding song (tempo wise) with lyrics about trying to prevent suicide to frame the mood of crossing the New Mexico Desert. http://www.allmusic.com/song/its-a-gas-that-makes-you-laugh-before-it-kills-you-mt0036120897. For me, it captured that frame of mind where you know something sucks, but at the same time you are somehow having fun with it even if it shouldn't be, or isn't fun. Bravo on that song choice.

Low points: dead mice in the water... but you still have to drink it.

I like it and have to recommend it to everyone. Of course I am already a fan anyway after just about wearing out my copy of "Wizards of the PCT (http://www.tbwproductions.com/page-0#!__page-0-copy1)". Jester has found a way to convey the feeling of what it is like to hike a trail with good friends that I've never seen in other hike documentaries. His videos are like the random memories you have later on of the funny, cool, and sometimes sucky things that happen when you are out hiking.

Jester
2013-07-22, 01:25
Thanks for the great review! Glad you enjoyed it!

Mags
2013-07-25, 11:43
IT was hard for us (POD, Disco, d-low and myself) to watch as it made us want to get out on the trail again....

SGT Rock
2013-07-25, 13:05
I can imagine. It looks very challenging.

When I watched Wizards of the PCT, I pretty much immediately wanted to go hike the PCT. I've watched Embrace the Brutality about three times and when I first watched it, I didn't get that feeling. I imagine it was because it did look like it could be a real trudge, especially in the beginning. I felt I was safe to watch the movie again without getting that urge to go hike it. But now I find myself looking at web pages about hiking the CDT and looking at Yogi's guide on-line. MY wife may hide all Jester's movies on me.

I got a movie from Magnum years ago about his CDT hike (http://www.trailjournals.com/about.cfm?trailname=4018), it was a VERY long movie. But something I think I've noticed watching these two is it might be preferable to go on the CDT with other people intentionally because you don't have all the other hikers to meet and socialize with. Just for sanity and for someone to bounce ideas off of when the trail goes to hell. Thoughts on it from you triple crowners?

Jester
2013-07-25, 14:08
Three thoughts:
First, part of the problem that creates really long trail movies is the combination of no training in editing (which also affects the pacing, making things seem even longer) and an inability to distance oneself from the hike -- everything seems important. I do have the training, and I compensate for the second part by not even looking at the footage for a couple of months after I've finished hiking. That way I can step into the role of editor fresh, and I have a little distance from the hiker part of me that was on the trail.

Second, Mags & crew at The Trail Show (particularly D-Low) thought I didn't show ENOUGH of the brutal nature of the trail, considering the title. And POD theorized that when you're down it's hard to film. The funny thing is I filmed every chance I got, even when things were crappy. But the problem is that the people I travel with (me included) tend to curse a lot when things aren't going well. I mean A LOT. And that's kind of hard to edit around. But the cursing tends to act as a release valve, and we tended to stay in a good mood even when we really probably should have been unhappy. Misery loves company, I suppose.

Third (and here I'll address your actual question), the CDT was the first trail I've done where I actively solicited other friends to join me. Numbers on the CDT are going up, but it's still entirely possible that you could start and not see anyone for a very long time (if at all). I'm kind of a social creature, though, so others might do fine starting alone. All I know is that the 9 days I spent hiking alone in the San Juans started to drive me batty, particularly the first five days, during which I saw not a single other person the entire time (not even day hikers, sectioners, weekenders, horse packers -- no one).

Crikey
2013-07-25, 14:23
So, put on your marketing hat and tell us where to get a copy (sorry if you've already done that and I'm just a dumb jackass).

SGT Rock
2013-07-25, 14:52
Three thoughts:
First, part of the problem that creates really long trail movies is the combination of no training in editing (which also affects the pacing, making things seem even longer) and an inability to distance oneself from the hike -- everything seems important. I do have the training, and I compensate for the second part by not even looking at the footage for a couple of months after I've finished hiking. That way I can step into the role of editor fresh, and I have a little distance from the hiker part of me that was on the trail.That makes sense. The pacing of Magnum's movie was very slow. I can't watch it all at once, it is better viewed as a mini-series.


Second, Mags & crew at The Trail Show (particularly D-Low) thought I didn't show ENOUGH of the brutal nature of the trail, considering the title. And POD theorized that when you're down it's hard to film. The funny thing is I filmed every chance I got, even when things were crappy. But the problem is that the people I travel with (me included) tend to curse a lot when things aren't going well. I mean A LOT. And that's kind of hard to edit around. But the cursing tends to act as a release valve, and we tended to stay in a good mood even when we really probably should have been unhappy. Misery loves company, I suppose.Maybe a director's cut, extra brutal on the brutal sauce?


Third (and here I'll address your actual question), the CDT was the first trail I've done where I actively solicited other friends to join me. Numbers on the CDT are going up, but it's still entirely possible that you could start and not see anyone for a very long time (if at all). I'm kind of a social creature, though, so others might do fine starting alone. All I know is that the 9 days I spent hiking alone in the San Juans started to drive me batty, particularly the first five days, during which I saw not a single other person the entire time (not even day hikers, sectioners, weekenders, horse packers -- no one).Interesting. I love being alone for days at a time, but it does wear on one after a while. It's nice to have someone else to talk to occasionally. One of my favorite aspects of my BMT thru-hike is not seeing another human being for 5 days straight. I do think if I had been around more people I may have not killed myself on the trail at times though and probably would have made it further on the AT than I did. That said, I recently re-watched Into the Wild again, and something that was said near the end of the movie as the 'tard was dying struck me as true (forgive me if I screw this up some) but experiences shared are generally better than things you experience alone.

Mags
2013-07-25, 14:59
I started the trail alone, hiked with a group through most of Wyoming and was by myself again from oh..half of Colorado on.

I am a soloist hiker by nature.

What I did notice is that in New Mexico when I was, quite frankly, burnt out mentally. I actively solicited people. To talk to, for support and just craving human interaction.

Each individual day of hiking was not hard per se (navigation, weather, re-routes and so on). Cumulatively? Added up. Being solo so much exacerbated the feeling.

Being mentally drained, I craved the interaction as it allowed me to get outside of my own head.

I suspect that if I was with a group in New Mexico, my mental state would have been better.

Then again, I do love the challenges and rewards of solo hiking.

Be nice to pick and choose when to hike with people and when to be solo to balance both these needs.

On the AT and the PCT, you can make that choice pretty easily and can go back-and-forth between both options. On the CDT? Not so much.

Having said that, the CDT is the only trail I’d want to hike again. I’d still go solo, but I’d break it up into a two or even three year section hike. Cherry pick the seasons and limit my Extreme Alone Time. :O

SGT Rock
2013-07-25, 15:18
I've heard that from a few CDTers. That if they had it to do over again they would break it up into at least two trips.

Jester
2013-07-25, 16:05
So, put on your marketing hat and tell us where to get a copy (sorry if you've already done that and I'm just a dumb jackass).

Sorry -- posted it on another thread that has the trailer. You can get it here:
http://www.tbwproductions.com

Or if you're on a mobile device you can go to the Facebook page and buy from the shop there:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embrace-the-Brutality-A-Continental-Divide-Trail-Adventure/522214734486256

I should also post the link to the aforementioned "The Trail Show" ("More Beer, Less Gear"), which is an excellent podcast:
http://thetrailshow.com/

Thanks!

Oh, here's the trailer again . . .


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfFz30FQNmw

Ewker
2013-07-25, 17:33
well I just ordered both DVD's..now hurry up and ship them :)

Skidsteer
2013-07-25, 18:10
First, Jester, I'd like to compliment you on how fast you shipped "Embrace the Brutality". Outstanding!

I pretty much echo SGT Rock's points and would like to add something that I noticed in both "Wizards" and "Embrace the Brutality", and that is the appeal the movies have to non-hikers and short section hikers as well as long distance hikers.

My Son and his friends(non-hikers for the most part)watch and say things like "That looks awesome! We ought to do that someday!"

I watch and say things like, "Man, that had to suck when that water source didn't pan out. I can't wait to hike the CDT!"

I guess what I'm saying is that your movies are entertaining to a much broader audience than just hikers. And that is definitely not the case with the majority of hiking movies.

Well done.

Jester
2013-07-25, 19:21
well I just ordered both DVD's..now hurry up and ship them :)

It'll go out tomorrow morning!

Ewker
2013-07-25, 23:49
It'll go out tomorrow morning!

thanks Jester, looking forward to watching both of them

Jester
2013-08-02, 11:48
First, Jester, I'd like to compliment you on how fast you shipped "Embrace the Brutality". Outstanding!

I pretty much echo SGT Rock's points and would like to add something that I noticed in both "Wizards" and "Embrace the Brutality", and that is the appeal the movies have to non-hikers and short section hikers as well as long distance hikers.

My Son and his friends(non-hikers for the most part)watch and say things like "That looks awesome! We ought to do that someday!"

I watch and say things like, "Man, that had to suck when that water source didn't pan out. I can't wait to hike the CDT!"

I guess what I'm saying is that your movies are entertaining to a much broader audience than just hikers. And that is definitely not the case with the majority of hiking movies.

Well done.

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! As to the broader appeal, I sort of have a secret weapon as far as that goes -- I've got a group of 10 or so friends that I used as a test screening group for this movie and the last one. None of them are hikers, and they're brutally honest. I show it to them, have them fill out comment cards, and then make changes based on their recommendations (not all of which I take, but some of them have been very good changes). That's the last step in the editing before I send it off to be manufactured.

Ewker
2013-08-02, 13:43
I got mine earlier this week but still haven't a chance to watch them