Filmmaker Anson Fogel on Cascada and his hellish kayaking "vacation"
On Monday filmmakers Anson Fogel and Skip Armstrong of the Carbondale-based collective Forge Motion Pictures released Cascada, a new adventure short produced in partnership with NRS, the Idaho-based gear brand. The film documents a trip to the jungles of Mexico with photographer Tim Kemple and some of the world's top kayakers -- Erik Boomer, Tyler Brandy, Galen Volckhausen, and Blake Hendrix -- in search of spectacular waterfalls. The 7:40 short stands as proof that they found adventure-film gold, but Fogel tells Westword it took a lot of misadventure to uncover.
Photo by Tim Kemple, courtesy Forge Motion Pictures
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Westword: What was the spark for this trip? Did you have some kind of inside information about what you'd find down there?
Anson Fogel: It's a well-known location amongst world-class kayakers because the river in that part of Mexico has, probably, the highest concentration of runable waterfalls in the world. So it's certainly not a secret. The spark for this project was I got a call from Erik Boomer and Tim Kemple, who I've worked with a lot, and they said, "Hey, we're going down to Mexico to run some waterfalls... maybe you want to come along and shoot?" It's not the typical way we make films: We usually plan them out and script them pretty carefully. But Skip and I kind of had this naive idea that it would be a vacation, so I said, "Sure."
So, the vacation part... not so much?
Honestly, it was one of the best weeks of shooting I've ever had. It was amazing, and the synergy between the athletes and the shooters was just perfect. Everything went great as far as shooting and the waterfalls and the spectacular culture and geography of the place. But, as is often the case with adventure filmmaking, it wasn't all rosy. We got literally hundreds of thousands of bug bites, and six of the seven of us got violently ill, just puking our guts out, and it rained literally from the second we got there and did not stop until the day we left. We didn't have a big crew -- it was just Skip and I, and we were both shooting -- so it wasn't like there was someone whose job was to hold an umbrella. Everything was soaking wet, all the time. The cameras broke a lot, and we had to fix them every night. And we had so many bug bites that we were all having severe whole-body allergic reactions, with pus coming out everywhere.
Sounds like fun.
We've shot in a lot of jungles in the past, but this particular jungle had it in for us. But it was as challenging as it should be: If making adventure films were always easy, it wouldn't be an adventure! Even when I was hanging off the rope throwing up and trying to keep my camera lens from fogging up at the same time, I was still having the time of my life.