Filming Perseverance: Part One

Where’s your wilderness?

For the last few years, we’ve volunteered with the Cumberland Community Forest Society, an organization that is raising money to purchase the forests around our village. I had no idea that volunteering for a charity could be so much FUN – there’s trivia nights (highly competitive, intense, with lots of beer drinking and good-natured carousing), sporting events, plant sales, film nights, art shows, etc etc etc. It’s an amazing and high-spirited group of creative people who are passionate about saving the trees, and the whole experience has been extremely rewarding.

Some of our volunteering includes content creation –  taking photos to document the woods, looking after different social media channels, and providing video content. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the films, because I love to share them and I’m not shy about shouting on this here blog. But we’ve spent the last week creating a new film, and while we’re not yet ready to share it publicly*, I’d love to tell you about the experience.

First of all, please understand that we’ve been doing quite a few Fox&Bee projects through February and March; in fact, since January 1st, we’ve worked for researchers and scientists, solar energy enthusiasts, hospices and hospitals, educational facilities, video game developers, psychics, a couple of government agencies, and private individuals. We’ve met so many varied and fascinating people, and I’ve learned about a wide variety of subjects, from end-of-life care to deep sea worms to the use of mobile phones in the classroom to US politics to the importance of fungi. Serious, 2015 has been a roller coaster of awesomeness.

But through all of this, we wanted to make another film for the CCFS, because it offers a fantastic opportunity to go out, walk in the woods, and have a really good time supporting something we love. So last week, we figured it was time. On Sunday night, Shawn and I sat in the laundry room of our house – the epicentre of creative energy, apparently – and thrashed out a narrative.

On Monday afternoon, we set out to film. We knew that we needed to film the piece chronologically, and that meant we’d have to start deep in the woods, hiking 2.5 kilometres to Allan Lake. Now, I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound far, but please keep in mind that our party includes a 4-year-old, a 9-year-old, and the two adults who are carrying backpacks of camera equipment and supplies, plus a jib. What’s a jib? This is a jib:

Our jib is a homemade model that Shawn built himself, and it comes apart into two pieces, but it’s not lightweight. In fact, a key component are two five-pound weights on the counterbalance. It works like a charm, but it’s not something you just carry around with you for the fun of it. It’s especially fun to carry through the woods, because the part in the backpack sticks up three feet above your head, and the part you carry in your hand is nine feet long. We also had a telescoping pole for underwater shots (length: five feet) and half of a fishing rod (length: two feet) which also stuck out of the top of Shawn’s pack. We snagged a lot of curious looks from bikers and hikers as they passed us on the trail, as well as low-hanging branches and moss.

We made it up to Allen Lake at a reasonable time, then spent an hour looking for a suitable location for the opening shot. Allen Lake is the water reservoir for Cumberland, so there’s no swimming or boating allowed, which means it’s peaceful and serene, surrounded by thick forests.


The only other living creatures we saw were ravens, crows, and a couple of tired, mud-spattered mountain bikers. We captured the opening shots and started working our way back towards home, but it had taken us longer to find a location than we’d anticipated, and the sun was starting to set. We had hoped this would be a one-day shoot, but sadly, we realized it was going to take two days.


Remember, friends: if you think something is going to take you an hour to film, prepare to be filming for four. And if you think it’s going to take you a day, well…. I’m sure you can do the math.


*The film will be launched at the Cumberland Mountain Film Festival on April 10, and then shown again at the Spring Trivia Night on April 17. After that, world dominatio– uh, I mean release.


A story to go with the scar.

Remember how, in my last post, I said I’d been bitten by some nasty bug that left a welt on my leg?

Well, about 10 days after being bitten, the welt still hadn’t gone down, and had actually gotten a little bit bigger. All night long, my calf ached, so in the morning I went to see a doctor. This fine physician, after examining the aformentioned leg, sat back and pondered for a few moments. He asked where I’d been (Answer: top of Mt. Washington) and if I had noticed the bite at the time (Answer: no, I only noticed the welt when we reached the bottom of the trails) and had there been anything strange about the bite (Answer: well, yes. While riding in the car, I’d scratched it because it was itchy-sore, and a flood of dark blood had poured out, so much so that I had to stick my leg out the car window, lest I ruined the upholstery.)

Have we reached the land of Too Much Information? Sorry. I ought to have warned you that this is where our journey would take us.

So the doctor took this information, mulled it over, and said, “I can’t say for sure, because I didn’t see the bite immediately after you recieved it, but it’s possible you were bitten by a brown recluse.”

I didn’t really know what that meant, so I googled ‘brown recluse bite images’.


The brown recluse is a very bitter, angry, and vengeful spider that shoots necrotizing* toxin into its upsuspecting victim, causing hellish open sores, ulcers, melting skin, general Wes Craven-style nightmarishness. If I was bit by a brown recluse, then it must’ve been a very small one, because my divot of missing flesh was only the size of an appleseed, and the welt around it only the size of a twoonie. Some of the festering open wounds pictured on Google wrapped around people’s thighs, they were so big. AI AI AI!

Here’s the reason I say “IF”: the community appears to be very sharply divided between those who say the brown recluse lives in British Columbia, and those who say it does not.  I have friends who are outdoorsy biology spider affectionados who say, “Yes, it lives here, deep in the bush”, and I’ve read literature that says “No way, every sighting and bite has been misidentified”. I’m not particularly sure who to believe.

All I know for sure is this: something got me, out in the woods. And I’m happy to report that, a month later, the welt has gone down in size to the circumfrence of a quarter, and it’s only a brilliant scarlet colour, now, rather than blackish-red. At this rate, I’m hoping my leg will be healed by Christmas.


*’necro‘ is latin for dead, and ‘tizing‘ is latin for ‘OHMYGODGETITOFFFFFF!!!!!