Girls On Film : The Rise Of The Female Adventure Film Makers

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Are adventurous women camera shy?

We have a long history of fierce inspiring ladies in the adventure world – from pioneers like aviator Nancy Bird Walton; to Brigitte Muir who, in 1997, was the first Australian woman to summit Mount Everest; to Terra Roam who more recently became the first women to walk solo unsupported around Australia – yet still so few adventure films featuring women.

As the curator of adventure film tours for more than a decade, the welcome rise in films featuring women is noticeable. However, the reason for the change may be surprising. In my opinion, it’s not that there are more adventurous women pursuing their dreams, it’s that there are more creative women behind the camera telling their stories. Filmmakers are drawn to the people that inspire them – and often it’s the tales of other women that inspire them most.

Lucky for us, three Australian female filmmakers are sharing their talent for storytelling and creating some incredibly inspiring adventure films.

KRYSTLE WRIGHT: With over a decade in the industry as a global award winning adventure photographer, Krystle has collected as many inspiring adventure gal pals as she has high profile gigs. The four minute adrenaline packed short film Where the Wild Things Play blew up the internet in 2017, achieved well over 3 million views online, and launched the inaugural Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour.

Photo Credit: In Perpetual Motion- Ben Sturgulewski New Zealand

Photo Credit: In Perpetual Motion- Ben Sturgulewski New Zealand

Wright didn’t set out to make a female only film: “I like to make films that feature characters, stories, and ideas that I conjure up in my dreams. I’ve always been passionate about telling stories and don’t wish to fall into those boundaries that I am nitpicking what sex, colour, age or background my subjects are. Instead, I believe we should celebrate great content because no matter what, a great story holds the power to resonate and engage.”

Her more introspective film In Perpetual Motion, lit up the big screen around Australia at the 2018 Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour. In the visual portrayal of her own life, Wright reveals that being behind the lens isn’t always about exotic locations with your adventure besties, “Some of the challenges that come with adventure filmmaking is being able to work in extreme environments such as the freezing cold, soaring temperatures and in precarious positions such as hanging off the side of cliffs or swimming around in pounding surf.”

CASSIE DE COLLING: Like her work, De Colling is brave and real. The Melbourne based director has a talent for bringing a story to life and in the most visually stunning way possible.

De Colling is driven by “…the constant possibility to meet new people, learn and explore. It’s the desire to push creative boundaries and the challenge of weaving new perspectives and creativity.”

Cassie De Colling 3.jpg

As adventurous in her work life as she is in her downtime, De Colling has directed a ski-film in Kashmir, crafted a breathtaking freediving film in remote Western Australian waters, and is currently working on a feature documentary with Aboriginal artist Queen Regina Pilawuk Wilson, the first woman to walk off the Catholic church missionary and spur the ‘homelands’ movement.

De Colling credits Sir David Attenborough for her passion for adventure filmmaking, “Attenborough sparked thoughts of all the wild and wonderful places in my imagination as a child. I knew that I would always work in adventure and natural history films. I was always passionate about the outdoors, and I wanted to see the world and really learn about different cultures and places. Being a filmmaker seemed to be the only way to have the life I dreamed of.”  

De Colling favours working on films that feature women, “…because as a gender women are underrepresented both on and off screen. [Only] 7% of directors are female and 25% of females play leading characters in films. I am personally inspired by women, they are role models for girls – and I had very few of them when I was growing up. I think it’s important to create and share as much female-driven content as possible and bring more balance in the future.” Her stunning portrayal of champion female freediver Ai Futaki screened as part of the Ocean Film Festival World Tour at over 50 locations around Australia, New Zealand, China and beyond.

OLIVIA PAGE: With a foundation in photography, Page’s affinity for the aesthetics of the outdoor world is obvious. But her love of the outdoors and capturing images were put to the test when she signed up to help film the Tasmanian climbing epic Winter on the Blade which recently toured with Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

Her commitment to her craft is evident in the film which doesn’t shy away from showing the obstacles involved in filming in one of the wettest winters on record. When asked of the challenges of adventure filmmaker Page responded: “Everything. Literally. Considerations like weight; you have to carry filming gear plus everything else that you need, camping gear, climbing gear, so forth; a 40 kg backpack can be pretty standard. Access to powering and charging electronic equipment; cameras, laptops, hard drives. You’ll be carrying a tonne of batteries; if you’re shooting in the cold they go flat faster. The weather, like rain, humidity and snow will cause lens fog and internal moisture in camera gear. Dry bags become your best friend. You’ll go hungry and use things like rice when you have nothing else to soak up internal moisture in lenses. Equipment is expensive – falling over, carrying gear in backpacks or just simply dropping and smashing gear are very real occurrences. Time limitations and weather windows dictate how much you can shoot. Sometimes it’s impossible to shoot because of the weather, or too dangerous – and all focus must go into the objective or adventure.”

Photo Credit: Simon Bischoff

Photo Credit: Simon Bischoff

Page’s next project is an all-female climbing trip to New Zealand in early 2019. In addition to being an active member of the climbing team, Page aims to document the expedition and make a film to be released next year with the assistance of the Travel Play Live Women’s Adventure grant program.

“Increasing the visual presence of females in the outdoors increases future female mentors: their encouragement, knowledge and inspiration then fuels the next generation of explorers, thinkers, adventurers and activists. I hope that one day we will speak of first ascents, not of first female ascents. But until then, we must create an environment that encourages females to dream bigger and push limits. Basically I would like to see, and be inspired by, more women kicking butt.”

If you want to support more women in adventure films, we encourage you to support the women behind the lens who make these films possible.

Words by: Jemima Robinson – Director Adventure Reels

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