Far From Home is our first feature film and our largest work to date. The film is a documentary that tells the story of WZRD co-founder Phil Hessler's brother, Brolin Mawejje, a Ugandan born snowboarder and medical student who is training to make history as the first African to ever snowboard in the Olympics.
The film started as a passion project and quickly took on a life of its own when the first teaser was released for the project. The film was constructed while Phil and Galen (WZRD founders) were still in college from 2012 - 2015. The guys oversaw every area of production from fundraising, production, post-production, and distribution. They managed to privately fundraise approx. $150,000, travel to 4 continents, and log over 400 hours to create the film. Far From Home premiered at Santa Barbara International Film Festival and went on a 4 month festival circuit all over the world. The film was eventually purchased by Red Bull Media House for distribution on Red Bull.TV
*GRAND PRIZE WINNER OF THE 2016 WYOMING SHORT FILM CONTEST*
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Mike Parris is not your average ski maker. He started out his career as a robotic engineer for NASA. On a ski vacation he fell in love with Jackson Hole, WY and decided that his true calling was in the mountains. He left his job and started Igneous Skis and began creating customized skis from start to finish.
We created a short film showcasing Mike's unique story and his dedication to quality. All photos were taken and used with permission from Galen Knowles.
THE STORY OF ZEPPELIN ZEERIP
WORDS: Zeppelin Zeerip
When Phil Hessler and Galen Knowles had the idea to make a film on my life story I was hesitant. Not because I don’t like being in front of the camera, but because it would be the first time that I’d really put my story out there for the world to see. Our social structures often encourage us to keep our personal matters to ourselves, but through film, we’re given an opportunity to share our stories, and along the way hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Through creating this film, WZRDmedia has given me a gift, and that never would have come to fruition had I not moved to the mountains. I came to Salt Lake City for logical reasons. It’s the closest major metropolitan area with an international airport and world-class schools to the mountains. Though I came to Utah for practical reasons, I’ve stayed for the emotional. Since I began living in the shadow of the Wasatch Range, I’ve had the good fortune to dance under the stars on Superior, nearly fall off the Pfeiferhorn midway through the WURL, and hone my climbing skills on the smooth granite of Lone Peak. I’ve met friends that have become business partners, shared countless chairlifts on pow days with people I love, and put down roots in the Salt Lake City’s desert environment, far from my native home of Michigan.
Snowboarding, and through that my connection with the outdoors, is what keeps me going. It’s the reason I wake up early and god to bed late. It’s the reason I chose Westminster College, moved to Utah, and decided to pursue a career in film production with WZRDmedia. It’s the reason I’ve spent the last five years writing Don’t Call Me Gypsy, which I released on Kickstarter today.
Don’t Call Me Gypsy is the memoir of a young man traversing the American West. It’s how I’ve coped with what I’ve been through, but it’s also guaranteed to make you laugh. What’s it about? Well, mainly camping, sleeping in truck stops, exploring national parks, going toe-to-toe with a bull elk, cooking gourmet food on a Jetboil, beer, soul searching, the environment, and more camping. I'm a simple man; therefore, it's a simple book.
Writing this book is one of the ways I’ve coped with the losses in my life. I chose to be a victor, not a victim, but to do that I needed to come to terms with my father's alcoholism, my home burning, and my dream of snowboarding professionally being dashed. We’ve all experienced loss, it’s a part of being human, but it’s how we react that sets us apart. Sharing my story through this film and writing Don’t Call Me Gypsy has helped me surmount the emotional barriers that have long held me back.
In August of 2015, WZRD co-founder Galen Knowles was sent to Bariloche, Argentina with Atomic athlete Tim Durtschi. Their mission was to create an episode for Atomic Airtime that not only showcased amazing skiing but also the unique culture and history of Bariloche.
The episode will be dropping January 2016. We worked with photographer Ben Giradi to capture photo assets of the journey.
For the winter of 2015, we were able to strike a partnership with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. We were commissioned to create a video that showcases the community of Jackson and athlete Brolin Mawejje and the Hessler Brothers.
The short film will be released at the beginning of February 2016, all photos were taken and used with permission from Ryan Sheets.
In June 2015, the first ever Contour Music Festival debuted in Jackson Hole, WY. The Bonnaroo of the Old West. We were commissioned to create a film that showcased the experience of festival go-ers in the dazzling landscape that is Jackson.
In the summer of 2015, we partnered with Mandalay Sports to produce a short for VICE on Brolin Mawejje's quest to snowboard in the Olympics. The piece was shot during the tour of Far From Home (the feature documentary on Brolin's life) and during a three week period at Mt. Hood.
We also provided photo assets of the journey, all shots were taken and used with permission from Ian Avery Leaf
While creating Far From Home, we were approached by a lifestyle brand called Oliberte. Oliberte is the first fair trade certified shoe company in sub-saharann Africa, manufacturing all their products in Ethiopia.
Over a period of six months, we created a six part series based on a different theme from Ugandan snowboarder Brolin Mawejje's journey. We also provided photo assets, all shots were taken by Ryan Jon Sheets.
In August of 2015, we were approached to help launch the kicker tool from DMOS Collective into the world. The kicker tool is a packable backcountry shovel specifically made for building big jumps deep in the mountains. The company assembled a team of some of the biggest name in the ski and snowboard world such as Travis Rice and Tim Durtschi. They sent us off to Argentina where we constructed the video for the Kickstarter campaign which surpassed their goal by over $15,000.
Check out the video here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/576463145/the-kicker-tool-build-better-jumps/description
Every year, the best ski and snowboarders in the world come together to compete in the US Grand Prix which serve as Olympic qualifying events for skiing and snowboarding. Director, Galen Knowles, covered the 2014 event in Park City with a unique eye to the style of how he would capture the event creating the following edit you see below.
The Arts Bridge Project is an immersive student to student program that brings college students into the classroom with elementary school programs that combines science curriculum with immersive artvproject. Our job was to capture the magic that occurred between the elementary students and their college age teachers.
Terry Adams is one of the greatest flatland BMXers in the world. When he made a stop at College campus's in Salt Lake City, we were quick on the scene to put together this edit for Red Bull.
We've long been friends with the whole crew over at Asymbol and it has quickly turned into the hangout for the most prolific snowboarders in the world thanks to Travis Rice. Anytime there is a gallery opening Asymbol calls us up to cover the event. We've shot photos, made short edits, or even edited footage that someone else has shot for those events.
All photos taken and used with permission from Phil Hessler.
A pristine river in fed by the Tetons is threatened by the construction of a dam......again. It didn't work in the 70's, and it won't work now.
Here is why the Teton River needs to stay wild. This film was shot, edited and produced by Ian Avery-Leaf and features the work of Friends of the Teton River.