Hi Folks...This is Steve Fisher.
For us, this is a long awaited milestone, our website is is finally live! Now I can refocus my attention on editing the instructional vid and finishing up the last of our coaching rewards, and the Zambezi trip in December. We're getting there!
Obviously for us the site is a place to sell the finished Dreamline film and other products, but for visitors we plan for it to become a cool place to find quick tips, articles and instructional videos. We're also excited about further developing the whitewater map as a flows page for the US, and we're also going to link out to plenty of other instructional resources, kayak schools and more - create kind of a little hub, as an easy way to learn more about kayaking.
So where are we at on the 'Dreamline' project? Well as our Kickstarter backers know, we're behind on our initial schedule, but in terms of quality we're excited that this project will be everything we'd hoped. We started out by spending three weeks filming on the Zambezi where we gathered the bulk of our content. Then a group of backers joined us for a week of guided paddling where one of our group was Lonnie Bedwell, who's a blind kayaker previously known for running The Grand Canyon. EJ and Timmy O'Neal (a world renowned rock climber) led Lonnie down the entire Zambezi in increments where he ran every rapid (except #9 of course) with no swims! As a spin off, that generated some extra funds for the project, we edited a 23 minute show about Lonnie's descent for Outside TV. A shortened version of the show will be an inspiring section within the Dreamline Instructional vid and we'll have the entire show as an extra on the DVD/Bluray.
After spending a truly inspiring week with Lonnie, I felt that he didn't get come on a trip with us, rather we got to go paddling with him. Check out the teaser to the TV show we ran on Outside TV:
I was so impressed that I made a meme:
After the Zambezi trip it was time to gather some creeking content back in the US. The goal was to focus of the South East, which we did, but one of my goals for the project was to also feature some female instructors. As it turned out Nouria Neuman, Adriene Levknecht and Nicole Mansfield were all planning to paddle together in the Pacific Northwest this summer, so I joined them for a few days. We got some really awesome footage of them paddling and teaching us on the Little White Salmon and White Salmon Rivers. I was absolutely blown away at their level of paddling. They're not just good for female paddlers, they're just excellent padders...period, and as such they will be the primary instructors for some of our key moves like the boof etc. So no special girls segment...They're right there among the boys showing us how it's done, something that I'm really proud to showcase!
I was so impressed with the ladies that I took this selfie:
Ok, so why are we behind schedule on finishing up the film? Well, the reality for me is pretty simple: Cashflow. We were blown away by the support and success of our Kickstarter, which exceeded our goal of $55K and finished up at $83K. We asked folks if this was something they wanted, and the answer was clearly yes. Once we deducted $7 500 in Kickstarter fees, and $25 000 in rewards fulfillment (Zam trips, drybags, shipping etc.), we were left with around $50K for production, which was amazing, and which will show in the quality of our footage. I used around $30K for well earned team and crew wages (excluding me - I'll make some money after the fact), which left us around $20K for travel, accoms, food and logistics. In a subsequent blog post I'll post a full detailed spreadsheet of expenses throughout the project for all to see - I think that many people would find it really interesting to see what goes into our expeditions and film projects. But back to why we're behind on time: After the Zambezi portion of the shoot I was about $1 800 in the red, and after filming here in the US and fulfilling a bunch of the 'paddle with a pro' days I was about $20K in the red - This is money invested by me personally, which was both expected and fine by me - remember I will earn some money through sales on the back end. But as the season progressed, I found myself needing to work on other film projects to keep cashflow going in my small business to cover office overheads and employees etc. So I specifically chose a few projects that included kayaking, so that I could also use some of that content for the instructional film - a way to fund production of more content without me needing to pay for it. So when you see clips like 'With You' and Goodyear featuring Pat Keller, Casio with EJ, Lonnie Bedwell and the Merced shows on Outside TV... All of these are projects that I used to both maintain cashflow in my business and generate additional content for the instructional film. It's a winning recipe, but it takes time away from editing the Dreamline film itself. Furthermore I've needed to fulfill ' Paddle With a Pro' days that people signed up for on our Kickstarter - There were a lot, but they've actually been really instrumental in helping me to form the curriculum in the film. But my priority order remained pretty simple: 1.) Keep my business alive. 2.) Finish Dreamline.
So where are we now? Well... I decided I would need to take a small step back before I can move forward: I've trimmed back on my business overheads by not renewing or replacing the tenure of two employees, and by reducing my office space, so that by having less overhead I would need less cashflow to exist, so that I wouldn't have to work on as many other projects, so that I can simply keep my head down and see this project through. That's where we are now!
Now the website is up. That's a big relief for me as it's been a lot of work, and we have a way to keep funding the project with pre-orders, product sales, and by offering up a few extra slots on the Zambezi trip which we're doing already with some of our Kickstarter backers. So I'm really excited that we're moving forward. You'll notice that our ' Paddle With a Pro' days are shown as 'sold out' - that's because we're already at capacity. We hope to open those back up once we've fulfilled existing days booked.
Right now I'm sitting in Rock Island, TN at Eric Jackson's dining table typing this blog, and as soon as I hit post, he and I are doing some work together on the film curriculum and script. From here, I'll keep editing until early December before I leave for the Great Zambezi Adventure with our backers, then I'll spend Christmas with family, and keep going from there. I feel good about where I'm at and with what my next few months look like. I know that final delivery is far later than we'd envisioned, but the film is going to be one for the ages - I firmly believe that. I have a massive pile of T-Shirts, caps and 180 Dry Bags sitting in my office and, despite the extra cost of shipping, we've decided to send them all out immediately, and deliver the 'Dreamline Pack' separately once it's ready early next year. We really appreciate your patience and are striving to make it worth the wait.
So that's it folks! A massive sigh of relief for me that the website is up, and I'll keep you posted on the next steps. If you pledged for a reward like a dry bag or t-shirt etc, we're doing a big shipping session on Friday the 18th this week so you can expect a package soon.
Thanks again for all the support and enabling the production of this project. I truly believe in this project and am really excited with the content that we've gathered. I think it will be a while before we can match the talent and knowledge of the amazing team in this film, and I'm so glad that they've all been so forthcoming with their time and knowledge of the sport we all love.
See you on the river!