One Degree of Separation

Written by: Katherine “Ringleader” Imp

I’m so close I can taste it.

I remember waking up in Maine, two years ago, my body completely worn, but my mind rushing with excitement. So close to finishing. So close to summiting Katahdin. So close to wrapping up production of my first feature film. So close I could taste it.

Two years later I’ve got that same excitement running through my veins. This is my year. That year I’ll talk about with my Grandkids when they ask how Grandma made her dreams come true. The year I didn’t sleep or rest because I was too busy livin’. The year my life changed forever. I’m so close I can taste it.

I’ve always thought it was my destiny to empower people–empower them to lead their best life.  But I didn’t know how or in what capacity.  So after college I spent some time working for Outward Bound and Landmark Volunteers, leading wilderness trips for at-risk youth. I enjoyed it, and learned a lot, but it wasn’t my platform. I needed something bigger. I wanted something bigger.

Three years ago, when I came to Jason, Brandon, and Emily with my idea, I promised them the moon. I told Jason I’d help him be the producer he always wanted to be. I told Brandon I’d help him either get into medical school or get his own travel show. And I told Emily that I’d make our dream of inspiring young people a reality. The only thing they had to do was trust me. But I had no credentials, no connections, and no proof that anything lucrative would come out of this project. There were so many degrees of separation between me and the moon that failure began to seem inevitable.

Those degrees of separation, along with the exhaustion of filming while hiking 20 miles/day, led to tension and anger and stress, and worst of all, a loss of trust.

In 2011 I sat on this project, wondering if the only thing left was to admit failure and move on with my life. But I couldn’t. Not after everything we’d been through on the trail. So, like we did on Springer Mountain, I began to put one foot in front of the other. I began to believe in my dream again.

This was one of the best summers of my life. After a year of post-production, we brought Beauty Beneath the Dirt on the road to realize the dream I had back in 2009. I didn’t sleep. While Brandon was driving up the coast from Georgia to Maine to host screenings, I was in Chicago booking venues and making press calls in between billable hours. I flew in for screenings in Baltimore, Harrisonburg, New York City, and South Jersey. I reconnected with friends and trail angels. I watched as our audience laughed and cried. I talked about life, relationships, and the Appalachian Trail with hundreds of strangers. I felt the degrees of separation fade away.

Our G2M Tour ended in Monson, Maine at the end of July and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. I flew in for the screening, wanting to share the moment with my brother. We re-hiked Katahdin, exchanged stories with the owner of Monson’s General Store over breakfast, and mingled with hikers at the Lakeshore House. 120 people crammed into Monson’s community center that night. All ages and backgrounds, some coming from towns over 40 miles away. As Brandon and I stood up to give our last Q&A, I looked around the room, looked at him, and just smiled. We did it.

In the last few months, I’ve connected with BBC, PBS, OWN, foreign distributors, producers, and friends of Mark Burnett. Three years ago these kinds of connections were a fantasy. But now there’s only one degree of separation between me and the moon and I feel more focused and alive than ever. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings…

For more blog entries by Katherine Imp, see her new website

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What’s the goal here?

Written by: Katherine “Ringleader” Imp

I’m a goal person.  I like having goals, making goals, and scoring goals.  But even the most goal-oriented people need reminders to keep on track. I had mine today.

I was sitting in the office of one of the partners at my firm, and she asked about the film.  The conversation went like this:

Partner: How’s the film going?

Me: Good, 220 people in Harrisonburg last Friday. 150 in South Jersey over the weekend.

Partner: Fantastic. Where do you hope to go with this besides finding someone to distribute the film?

Me: Well, I want to make money back, provoke discussion, inspire people…

Partner: Right, but besides that?

Me: Uh-

Partner: How are you promoting yourself?

Me: Well, I give my film business card to everyone I meet, and sometimes my lawyer card.

Partner: You should be taking their card.

Me: Uh, yeah.

Partner: You never know when they might need a lawyer. And they’re likely to be more comfortable with you than someone that knows nothing about film or outdoor adventure.

Me: Right, okay, yeah-

Partner: Great, touch base with me soon regarding the memo we discussed.


I used to think I had a way with words, but I’ve come to realize in the last month of media calls, Q&As, and partner meetings–that I have a long way to go.  Every reporter, every partner, every person I talk to asks the same question: what’s the goal here? And somehow, after 30 media calls, countless emails, and in-person Q&As, I still can’t answer this question.

I don’t know.

There. I said it. Out loud. That’s my answer. I just don’t know! Of course I want to make people laugh/cry/feel something when they see my film. And I want to make my money back because I have six-figures of student debt to pay off. And I want a friggin’ distributor to pick this up, take it off my hands, and write me a check- because it deserves a larger distribution than I could ever do myself. But these are short-term goals. And they’ve managed to keep me preoccupied enough to avoid the long-term goal question.

It’s time to start thinking long-term again.  I finally had a chance to join Bran on this G2M Tour in Baltimore, Harrisonburg, and South Jersey. And I had a blast. I made new connections and rejuvenated old ones. I spent time with my brother. And most importantly, I got to see first-hand the effect that this film has on an audience. I watched as people reached for a tissue because they were laughing or crying too hard. I felt my dreams coming true.

So what’s the goal now? On a long-distance hike, you need short-term goals (hike 15 miles to waterfall) and long-term goals (finish thru-hike).  The short-term goal gives you something achievable to work towards, while the long-terms goal gives you something to dream about. You need both to be successful.

There are a number of uncertainties in my life right now. I don’t know if I want to be an entertainment lawyer, film director, writer, or wandering soul. All of these “professions” sound appealing and attainable at the moment. What I do know is that I’m working towards all of them and the journey is still bringing a smile to my face. So how about this for a long-term goal: (1) take on work as an entertainment lawyer, (2) find a new film project to direct, and (3) keep smiling …

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Aquone Hiker Hostel, The Newest Appalachian Trail Refreshment

Written by: Brandon “Monkey” Imp

You turn a corner and see it – the end.  Your body automatically winds down and you have to run to the end point before you collapse in a mixture of happiness and exhaustion.  That’s what you feel at the end of a day of hiking, right?  That’s what I felt like on the AT.  Other hikers often thought we, The Traveling Circus, ran the entire day because we would charge into campground and collapse.  Truth is, I was just tired and happy for another successful day of hiking.

As of this year, thru-hikers get to set a new end-goal for their time in the pre-Smokies region.  Well, there are three options with a similar outcome.  Steve “Wiggy” Bennett shuttles hikers from Wayah Gap, Burningtown Gap, and Telico Gap to the growing oasis called Aquone Hiker Hostel.  Built, owned, and operated by Steve and his wife Maggie, Aquone caters to thru-hikers’ desires.  Steve knows what they are, having thru-hiked the AT quite close to the Traveling Circus in 2010.  2010 hikers – remember the Syke brothers?  He’s one of them!

The property was bought over a decade ago, covered in trees and natural shrubbery you would expect in the area.  Steve had a bigger vision though – a new home.  Over the years, which included sleeping in a tent month after month on the property, Steve looked online at how to build a cabin and did so.  He did not stop at just one either.  The complex now consists of two smaller cabins and a giant third cabin.  A large lodge is down the road.  There are hot tubs (plural), electricity and internet, a road (fittingly named Brittania), fire pits, grills, porches, and views in every direction.  Steve and Maggie built it all, even the tables and bunk beds.  Steve’s will-power is strong (see: thru-hiker); the dream became a reality.

The most important aspect of the hostel is the quality of the complex.  Neville at Woods Hole Hostel reminded me to refrain from using words like “best” when talking about hostel set-ups on the AT; there are more accurate adjectives.  Refreshing is the adjective of choice for Aquone Hiker Hostel.  I apply this adjective to Woods Hole Hostel as well.  At Woods Hole, the aura of the hostel gives a sense of refreshment.  At Aquone, the cleanliness and impressiveness of the hostel gives a sense of refreshment.  They both discard the American concept of hostel (see: cheap, a roof) and incorporate the European concept of hostel (see: experience, retreat.)  Also, just like Woods Hole, Aquone has separate grounds for non-hikers (or wealthier hikers); the two smaller cabins are primarily used by vacationers.  They also have a large lodge to rent down the road for bigger parties.  Aquone hostel will be listed in the AT books next year and, once the word gets out, will be overrun with hikers.  This will become a new mandatory stop on the AT.

I met Wiggy on my thru-hike in 2010.  We have kept tabs on each other here and there; when the idea for the tour grew beyond the conversation between Ringleader and me, we notified hostels.  Aquone Hiker Hostel was the first to jump on board.  Later when booking venues, other towns requested the Tuesday reserved for Aquone, but I refused to budge.  I am so glad I did not reschedule or remove Aquone from the G2M Tour.  Steve and Maggie welcomed me with open arms, and their daughter Debbie and close friends arrived shortly after emoting equally positive energy.  There was a delicious, never-ending barbecue, stimulating conversation, a boisterous viewing of Beauty Beneath the Dirt, more stimulating conversation, and a long night of drinking next to the fire.  The movie spoke to every guest differently.  Wiggy had a rocky hike with his brother Sticks – the film really helped visualize their hike to Maggie and Debbie.  Steve regards his 2010 thru-hike a very pivotal moment in his life, yet he could only talk about it so much.  Beauty Beneath the Dirt helped fill in the gaps that cannot be explained with only words.

Refreshing – that’s what Aquone Hiker Hostel is for guests.  For the hikers, a rejuvenation.  For myself, an excellent source of fuel to push forward on the G2M Tour towards Maine.

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Reliving the Appalachian Trail

Written by: Brandon “Monkey” Imp

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will you thru-hike the AT again?”

For those of you that read the blog in 2010, you may recall my “one and done” phrase.  I hiked the AT once, and now I am done.  At that time, the phrase came about because I was exhausted and was looking forward to propelling my career forward.  Two years of additional reflection has added to the “one and done” phrase: I do not want to alter the memories formed on the thru-hike.  I have revisited places before, and I tend to automatically recreate (or relive) the original episode.  I do not want to spend my entire hike trying to relive the past or outdoing what happened before – it is not fair to me or the people around me.  Who likes to have a moment brought down by someone saying or thinking, “This is where XYZ happened last time!”  Additionally, I hiked the trail for the experience’s adventurous and transformative natures rather than the natural beauty or love of hiking.  Becoming an athlete and seeing interesting sites were added bonuses.  There are a ton of adventures to get into around the world, like manning a film tour, going through medical school, and making a perfect batch of cookies; the AT was an adventure, it happened, I am proud of accomplishing a thru-hike, and I am content to never thru-hike again.

One does not need to thru-hike to experience the Appalachian Trail though.  The AT continued to be a central part of my life as Beauty Beneath the Dirt was created over two years.  The majority of the work was placed in the hands of the production team, Kate, Jason, Topher, and Heather; I was like a consultant that chipped in where I could.  Film post-production was an additional chapter to my AT experience.

This summer, I get to travel the length of the AT and reconnect with the community for the G2M Tour.  I am not hiking (I have to schedule a climb of Mt. Katahdin with Kate, the schedule is so tight.)  I am not terribly smelly or dirty (just what is expected from somebody living out of a car.)  My body is not transforming in a muscular machine (because it is already! Well, not really, but I like to think so!)  I do, however, get to relive highlights of the Appalachian Trail: hikers, trail magic, trail towns.

The screening in Hot Springs was one of my favorites so far.  The hiking-oriented community came to watch – they laughed, cried, and chatted with their neighbors.  Some admitted they were not very interested in watching a film about three twenty-something hikers but came in support of an AT film; afterwards, they were surprised by themselves for feeling so invested in the cast and their emotions rode up and down with the film.  The reactions were incredible compliments, something to be cherished forever.

Hot Springs was more than the screening though.  I got to stay at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn.  The Inn is a historic landmark known on the AT for its hominess and top-notch communal meals.  When the Traveling Circus came to town in 2010, Elmer’s was full and we completely missed the experience.  Now, two years later as a visitor, I got to stay in Elmer’s for two nights.  I got to re-live the AT by filling in a missing piece from our thru-hike.  I ate walnut pancakes with fresh strawberry sauce topping.  I cleaned off the porches to contribute to the house’s maintenance.  I read “The Soul of a Doctor” in a rocking chair while Professor strummed in the music room.  Emily explains in Beauty Beneath the Dirt the difficulty of hiking your own hike (literally and metaphorically) while hiking in a group – groups miss or sacrifice AT experiences, like Elmer’s, because of the group dynamic.  Now, solo, I am allowed to relive the AT and experience what I missed.  This is a gift.

Thanks Rob and Elmer.  Hot Springs, take two, was a genuine pleasure.

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Use What You’ve Got

Written by: Brandon “Monkey” Imp

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was broke, homeless, and without friends.  Nevertheless, I arrived confident and determined to succeed.  Little by little I built a life for myself – found an apartment, made friends, got jobs, and survived financially.  I worked 60+ hours every week between two jobs for the first three months.  One of those was street canvassing for the Sierra Club, and I was really good at the job.  I raised a lot during the first week or two because I was so determined to hold onto the income; I quickly became confident in my abilities as a canvasser, and that’s when I started doing poorly.  I worked with my office director and field managers to change my routine, but nothing was sticking.  One day, the director told me, “Flirt with everybody – young, old, male, female.”  I did – flirting worked like a charm.  The lesson I learned was to use what I’ve got; exhaust every option to find what works the best.  Then, be happy with the results, because you will not get any better.

The screening in Franklin reminded me of this valuable lesson.  We had a meager turnout for the screening and, to be honest, I could have done more to fill the seats.  I had two large movie posters in the trunk that went unused.  My language when talking with locals should have been more direct and specific.  Rather than pretend to be in my own world, I should have hung out with the high school and college kids at the McDonalds I was working at (free Wi-Fi.)  There was more to be done, and I dropped the ball.

The room was not empty though, so I used what I got.  I discarded my disappointment in attendance numbers and focused on how wonderful it was that people, who I had never previously met, attended.  The intimate setting was perfect because I got to connect with every person.  I know who they are, how they heard of the film, and their afterthoughts.  We laughed together (a lot) before, during, and after the film.  I almost cried during the film I got so caught up in the crowd mentality.  It was a special event; in the second screening of the G2M Tour, I realized that I was accomplishing one of the tour’s goals of giving back to the AT community.

Three thru-hikers attended the Franklin screening – siblings originally from South Korea that moved to Alabama a few years ago.  The resemblance to the Traveling Circus is striking – two women/one man, man is youngest, one woman with a big idea while others struggle to identify why they are hiking, incredible support for each other.  After the film, the questions poured out from each of them.  They wanted practical advice, my opinions on balancing a group, my thoughts on the ups and downs of trail life, and my support that they could hike and still achieve their “real world” dreams.  Again, I used what I’ve got – experience and insight.  While telling them answers to everything they wanted, I questioned to myself how much information was too much.  Yes, they wanted to learn, but part of the AT experience is learning from mistakes made along the way.  This group structure does not work, so let’s try something new.  Also, it is like getting a new textbook for class; I want to learn everything, but if I read the book in one sitting I will be overwhelmed and absorb very little.  When do I cross from being helpful to overpowering?

This is the end of the post.  My mind is racing so much that a conclusion is impossible.

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Radio Won’t Even Play My Jam

Written by: Katherine “Ringleader” Imp

When you take on a project that takes over three years to complete, you have to continually remind yourself why you’re doing it.  This is especially important when self-financing a film because money is constantly moving out of the bank account rather than in. And statistics show that most films never actually move out of the red–even ones that you see in mainstream theaters!

If you want to make money, you write a book or create a website or provide a skill. You don’t make movies. So why not cut my losses, burn Beauty Beneath the Dirt into a DVD, and shelf it?

Here’s a summary of the last three weeks of my life:

Sunday, May 13: Wake up. Cut flyers. Call mom. Hang flyers in my neighborhood. Drive to Portage Theater, hang flyers there. Give 24×36 posters to manager to hang on wall. Find hipster, outdoorsy, and artsy neighbors and continue to hang flyers. Talk to people along the way about the film, hiking the Appalachian Trail, adventure, life generally. Watch Survivor Season Finale with friends while eating deep dish Giordano’s pizza.

Monday, May 14: My assistant reminds me that I should hang a flyer at REI. After work I go to REI to give them the flyer in person. The manager says he’ll hang a flyer in the community room after the Chicago Backpackers Meetup is done. I immediately dash over to the Meetup just in time for the transition from community room to bar. I drink beer, mingle, pass out flyers, and work with the organizers to create a Meetup event for the screening on June 5. I also shoot around ideas with the organizer for Chicago Thru-Hike Backpackers Meetup group who happens to be there. Next thing you know I’m an organizer too.

Wednesday, May 16: Bran flies in from San Francisco; I pick up Giordano’s on the way home. We drink beer, eat pizza, and organize the 30 boxes of sponsor food/gear in my living room.

Friday, May 17: Made it to Trail Days after sleeping in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn and bathing in the sink of a McDonalds in middle-of-nowhere Virginia. We find Topher (our music composer from Philly), Josh (a thru-hiking friend from Delaware), and Sean (a high school friend now living in VA). We take off our shoes and eat pulled pork and funnel cake in the grass while listening to live music on the stage nearby. We exchange stories.

Saturday, May 18: I spend the entire day talking to people that saw the film on Friday. We talk about hiking and relationships and dreams. I listen to the older folks that want to give me guidance, and I spend time with the younger crowd that is looking for guidance from me. We screen the film again, and people laugh where we hoped they would laugh.

May 21 – May 25: I spend my mornings talking with people in Fredericksburg, Chambersburg, Boiling Springs, Monson, Wytheville, Unionville, and Williamstown. I negotiate contracts, find locals that want to help advertise, and talk about the trail or town politics or moviemaking or being young. I stay late every night at the office to get my legal work done; I find the quietness of the office extremely peaceful.

May 28 – June 1: I work over the holiday to make up for the time I know I’ll lose this week doing press for the Chicago screening. I attend a Chicago Filmmakers networking event and a CouchSurfing Meetup. I drink, laugh, make new friends, and pass out flyers. I show up at three radio interviews with Vocalo, Nick D, and Frank Fontana. I have fun thinking on my feet and talking about my favorite things. I pass off national & South Jersey media to my co-producer, ask Topher if he’d like to open some of the screenings with a live performance, thank Heather for keeping the website up-to-date, and provide emotional support for my brother as he drives to Hiawassee, GA for the start of the tour. I Google Beauty Beneath the Dirt and find press from over 40 different towns in the country. I think about the number of people whose lives I’ve touched, and we’ve only just begun to show the film. I smile.


If you’re new to the entertainment business, it’s realllly hard to break in. You can’t just call Oprah and ask her to show your film on OWN. You can’t just ask a radio station to “play my jam.” But that doesn’t mean you have to shelf your dream. You just have to think outside the box, find people that believe in your message, and never give up.

G2M Tour. University Tour. Kickstarter Campaign. This is going to be a good year.

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Where is the noise?

Written by: Brandon “Monkey” Imp

One of my favorite documentaries is “A Map for Saturday” by Brook Silva-Braga.  The film is a simple travel documentary about Brook embarking on a year-long trip around the world.  The movie’s appeal is the honesty – what Brook and other travelers feel and partake in during different legs of their trip.  He starts in Australia where he admits to getting a sore jaw and cotton mouth from not talking with anybody for the first few days; he left his comfortable career and life in New York City and has yet to get adjusted to the new lifestyle.  That is what I am in right now, the adjustment phase.  I have been talking with people but less than my usual load.  I need to adapt to the change.

I am accustomed to the hustle bustle of city life.  In San Francisco, every day was non-stop socializing and doing: roommates, co-workers, patients, rock climbers, friends, work-out partner, dates, phone calls and emails and Facebook to people outside of San Francisco.  I was always connected, talking, and moving.  Now I am in Hiawassee, Georgia.  The town is quiet.  I drove through it accidentally.  I am living out of my car and sleeping there or in a tent.  Where is the noise?  Where is the flash mob down the street and the loud bar scene?  Where are the friends to curl up with on a couch with a pizza?  Not here.  I am in a different world, and I need a few days to get re-acquainted with the quieter lifestyle.

Hiawassee is the first stop on this trip leg and the second stop on the G2M Tour.  (The first stop was Trail Days in Damascus.  I returned to my parents’ New Jersey home for Memorial Day before heading to Georgia.)  The screening was last night at Town’s County Senior Center.  There was a decent turnout, including Turkey and Thrasher NOBO ’10.  I came to realize last night, though, that as much as I am accustomed to societal noise, many people are not.  When the circus comes to smaller towns, people are unaware because they are not used to looking out for such events.  Some people show up, for this reason or another, but in the end many miss the event.  This is Hiawassee, where people choose to cut out the noise.  This is not San Francisco, where noise is expected and invited.

I have a lot of nervous energy.  I know where I am heading and what I am doing, but the concept has not yet sunk in.  In a few days, I will be over the adjustment phase, and I am looking forward to it.  The beginning is always the hardest!


**Please help us bring Beauty Beneath the Dirt on a University Tour this fall and make it free for students!  Contribute to the Kickstarter campaign.  If we do not reach our goal, your credit card will not be charged.  June 1 campaign update: $296/$10,000. PLEASE PLEDGE!**


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Written by: Brandon “Monkey” Imp

Things are about to change in a big way. Am I ready for this? Probably not, but that reason has never stopped me before. Let’s start from the beginning.

I graduated from Cornell University in December 2009, confronted with the mind-shattering reality of non-academic life. I started with something I knew well: leaving. Goodbyes came easy to me at that point; I eagerly left my home state for college, was a social butterfly (well, social wolverine, I have been told) in college, and took every break imaginable in college to live somewhere new. I made great friends and said goodbye, feeling confident that our relationship could be rekindled even after distance and time. I continued that pattern by saying an early goodbye to college and society; I set off to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail with little beyond two companions, a camera, and some sponsor products.

Five months later, I summited Mt. Katahdin as a new man. I freed myself from personal restrictions and limitations, finally knowing that I can thrive outside of the traditional academic-American lifestyle. The AT gave me confidence; transitioning from academia to societal life should be scary, but I had the courage to face it. When the time came to say goodbye to the AT and New Jersey, I was ready and eager to move across the country to San Francisco.

This city though, San Francisco, has changed me. The goodbyes said to the AT and New Jersey were the last to come easily to me. In two weeks I head back east and I am not ready to let go. I took off my shoes in San Francisco and want to stay for a while. This city has changed me from a “goodbye” guy to a “hello, stay for a while” man.

This realization really struck last Thursday night. 40 people showed up to the Eleanor Harwood Gallery for a small screening of Beauty Beneath the Dirt. A fun night watching a friend’s independent film in an art gallery while drinking beer and wine – how much more San Franciscan could the event get? Nobody thought the night was an atypical event; we regularly enjoy wine and cheese in the park, talk with strangers, and go on weekend getaways to the mountains. For 18 months I have developed a solid network of friends in this city. For the first time ever, I am afraid of leaving and letting these relationships slip away. I want to build upon what has been created here. Life! Do not force me to leave! I have lost my ability to spit out an easy goodbye.

Come August, I will be starting medical school. Currently, I am set to return to New Jersey for four years of school. I have wait list offers in San Francisco and New York City, both of which are extremely appealing if the school extends me an offer. Medical school is a big change – I am ready for school, but I am not ready for another relocation. Between now and then, I will be on the G2M Tour, taking Beauty Beneath the Dirt to the streets of communities from Georgia to Maine. I cannot bring San Francisco along with me; I have to say goodbye. I have to leave, at least for a while.

Big changes are happening. I am bookending my gap years between degrees with the Appalachian Trail – first a thru-hike, now a film tour. I am in love with a city and am forcibly removing myself from it. My life plan is set in motion with medical school beginning in the fall. I am strapping in for another roller coaster ride. It’s going to get bumpy!

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When Can I See the Film?

Written by: Katherine “Ringleader” Imp

I have a love-hate relationship with this question.  On the one hand, this question brings me more gratification than a double-stuffed oreo—knowing that there are people in the world that want to see something I’ve created is one of the most rewarding gifts I’ve ever received.  On the other hand, having to respond to that question with “Soon,” knowing that the real answer is “I don’t know,” is down-right depressing.

So in order to better answer this question, I started talking to people directly and indirectly affiliated with the film industry. And here’s what they told me: (1) distribution is the only way to get your film seen (by more than 2000 people), (2) the only way to get a distribution deal is through film festivals, (3) festivals are really hard to get into these days and rarely result in distribution, (4) distributors will not pick up a film that is already available on DVD, (5) production companies and cable stations do not take unsolicited submissions, (6) most documentaries and independent films lose money, (7) most films, even those that do have success in festivals, never see the light of day, and lastly, (8) I like your film but I can’t help you until you create your own buzz.

So, I need to “make things happen” on my own before distributors will help, but the only way to “make things happen” is through distributors?  Talk about a serious chicken and egg problem.

On the surface this kind of advice is fairly defeating, but I’ve never been one to cash in my chips, so I decided to take a step back and think outside the box. And here’s what I came up with for 2012:

Kickstarter Campaign.  Georgia to Maine (G2M) Tour.  University & College Tour.

KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN – May 18 to July 16, 2012

Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.  It affords filmmakers, musicians, and artists an opportunity to raise money for a short, 60-Day period, while also providing a medium for advertisement.  The BBtD Kickstarter campaign will launch on May 18 with a plan to raise $15,000.  This money will then be used to cover expenses during the G2M & University tours set to take place later this year. Stay tuned!

GEORGIA TO MAINE (G2M) TOUR – June & July 2012

Brandon “Monkey” Imp will be traveling up the coast this summer to screen Beauty Beneath the Dirt in as many trail towns as possible.  He will be joined (at various times) by other members of the Cast & Crew, as well as fellow 2010 thru-hikers. Expect fun, screenings, and trail magic!

If you’d like to book a screening in your hostel, town, hotel, or community center, and you live on or near the Appalachian Trail, please contact us.

UNIVERSITY & COLLEGE TOUR – September, October, & November 2012

Members of the Cast & Crew will be visiting universities around the United States this fall, screening the film for college students, professors, and local outdoor adventure enthusiasts.  These screenings will also include panel discussions and opportunities for students to ask questions about long-distance hiking, filmmaking, and the Appalachian Trail.

If you’d like to book a screening at your college or university, please contact us.


So why use screenings as a way to create buzz?

Screenings are a way for us to show you the film and create buzz without impeding our opportunities for wider distribution. It also gives us an opportunity to interact with our audience after each showing and promote discussion.

Is the film any good?

Kickstarter campaigns & screening tours sound good in theory, but only if you have a film worth watching.  Before we begin the expensive and grueling process of marketing Beauty Beneath the Dirt, I decided to test the film’s success at the University of Illinois College of Law.  Here are a few of the comments we received:

So, when can you see the film?


How can you help to maximize the amount of people that get to see this film?

Post the trailer to facebook/twitter, donate to our Kickstarter campaign, and come to one of our screenings. All screenings will be listed on the film page of our website.

Thank you again for everyone’s support in this 3-year (and counting) journey!

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Distribution & Film Festival Submissions

Welcome past followers and new viewers!

As you can see from this website, the marketing process for Beauty Beneath the Dirt is in full swing.  The plan is to find a distributor–via film festivals, meetings, cold calls, and connections from all of you–so that we can bring this film into the homes and hearts of people all over the world.

Here’s an update:

Film Festival Submissions:

Have an idea for another film festival we should submit to?  Comment below or send us an email.  All ideas are good ideas!

Contact with Ellen Degeneres:

Not yet. But if you don’t dream big, big things won’t happen. Ellen has always been an inspiration for all three of us, and we hope that one day we can join her on the show to provide thanks and to promote the Appalachian Trail.  So please send her an email for us if you haven’t done so already!

Have an idea for other talk show hosts or news media we should reach out to?  Comment below or send us an email.  Again, all ideas are good ideas!

Thanks again to everyone who has helped us along this journey.  It’s been an amazing ride and we look forward to sharing this experience with all of you for years to come …

~ The Traveling Circus

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