The months ago my partners at WZRDmedia and I decided it would be interesting to tell my story through the lens of a short documentary. Initially, this came as a bit of a surprise to me. We’ve spent the last three years making Far From Home, the story of a past roommate of mine that had immigrated from Uganda and is attempting to become the first African to snowboard in the Olympics. In comparison, I didn’t think my story stood out.
My business partners Phil Hessler and Galen Knowles thought differently. We were able to get the support of Ski Utah, Solitude Resort, and Goal Zero to create the project, and immediately began compiling archival footage of my childhood and snowboarding.
Filming for this project, dubbed Fly High, Go Far in respect to my families’ motto, lit the fire under me to finish writing Don’t Call Me Gypsy. Without the green light to make the film, the book wouldn’t ever have gotten finished. I realized that the film was a perfect introduction to my story, and coupled with the storytelling prowess of WZRD, could help the Kickstarter become successful. So I buckled down and began writing again.
The project has been slowly coming together since June, but last month Phil and I recognized that we needed a trip back to Michigan to tie the story together. Once again lugging our camera gear, Phil and I flew into Grand Rapids to get the remaining shots this weekend. Our goal was to capture the places that mattered most to me. My dad’s grave, my childhood home (the home we rebuilt after it burned), and Pando, the resort I grew up snowboarding at.
Revisiting those places and writing about my experiences offered me a resolution. Writing and filming for the last three months was the first time in years that I had spoken openly about my dad, my house burning down, or my femur, and I’m excited to share that with the Kickstarter community next month. It provided me with the opportunity to talk openly about the events that have shaped me, and also to move beyond them. More than that, it offered me the chance to recognize how damn excited I am about the life I’m fortunate enough to live. In a sense, that chapter of my life is done, though it will not be forgotten. Simply put, it happened. I’m writing a book about it, and a film has been made. At the end of the day, the book and short film are about moving on, moving forward, and being prepared for whatever comes next.