Adrenaline Hunters

Chased by cobras, crushed by rocks, speaking in tongues—all in a day’s work for Colorado’s six hottest adventure filmmakers.

December 2006

If you like wild stories from exotic locations, sit by an adventure filmmaker during a long flight. You might get to hear the one about the elephant that came crashing through the Burmese jungle toward the filmmaker’s camp, and how, just as he was set to run for his life, a teammate informed him that it was only the “beer elephant” making a delivery. Or maybe you’ll hear about climbing Mt. Everest for the second time (or was that the third?). Or that scary moment when a leaky Indonesian fishing vessel the moviemaker had hired was rammed 30 miles off the island of Sulawesi. Whether they’re bribing terrorists in Chechnya for permission to go skiing or exploring unclimbed granite walls in Madagascar, Colorado’s adventure filmmakers have done it all—and brought home the footage to prove it. For those with the right mix of skills and cojones, it’s a dream job come true.


Colorado is a hotspot for adventure filmmakers, and it’s a golden age for the profession: Demand is high thanks to the proliferation of cable television channels, DVD sales, in-flight programming, and other outlets; and digital technology has slashed the cost of producing films. “For the price of a used car, you can have your own moviemaking system,” says Frank Pickell of Boulder-based RattleCan Films.

Of course, that doesn’t mean any hack holding a camera can produce a great film. The six filmmakers profiled here share two rare talents: an eye for photography and the ability to craft a compelling tale. Still, none of these filmmakers had much formal training before launching his career; they just picked up a camera and began shooting. And there’s no better place to start than in Colorado. “You can hike over any hillside in the state and find an amazing view,” says Chris Patterson, head cameraman for Boulder-based Warren Miller Entertainment. “There’s no bad shot when I’m shooting here.”