What happens when filmmakers go on a nearly month-long hiking trip and meet up with musicians, painters and others along the way? So far it seems like a pretty great documentary. Today, the team behind "MILE...MILE & A HALF: A Journey Across The John Muir Trail" released the film's first trailer (watch it above).
"We truly didn't know if we'd come out of it with a documentary," said Co-Director Ric Serena. He figured they'd produce something for an art exhibit and a short and sweet clip - they did, in the form of a music video soon after returning - but as it turned out, the team had enough footage and story for the real deal.
The John Muir Trail runs more than 200 miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Yosemite National Park to the top of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Between are the peaceful fields of Tuolumne Meadows, the geologic curiosities at Devils Postpile, the picturesque Ansel Adams Wilderness and so much more.
Co-Director Jason Fitzpatrick had always wanted to hike the trail and turned the bucket list item into a full-fledged adventure with Serena, Serena's wife and two crew members. Five days in, one crew member bailed, but they temporarily picked up two teachers from Colorado. Other friendly strangers joined at different points: a lone female hiker from Japan and a brother and sister team who woke up early to hike so they could spend their afternoons painting. And with five days left in the 25-day journey, five friends joined the original team.
"It was sort of an art collective that just grew and grew the farther along the trail we went," explained Serena. "We had formed a community of not only hikers, but creative hikers." There's some evidence of that found in this video filmed at Lower Vidette Meadow:
Serena hopes to finish the documentary by the end of July and then plans to shop it around at film festivals unless they find sponsorship and distribution before then.
"At this point we're doing this as a labor of love," he said. "I'm grateful we had the opportunity to do it. I know a lot of people where the idea of taking off so much time seems incomprehensible... What we saw and what we experienced was definitely the best thing I've done at this point in my life."