A young man’s journey from the forest to the Banff International Film and Book Festival.




Being outside is one of the most important parts of my life; it’s the only way my body works. I’d crack if I couldn’t just hop on my bike, snowboard, unicycle, or surfboard, and disappear from the world. I never saw myself spending hours in front of a computer screen making a video about how important it is to go outside. How crazy would that be? So crazy, that when I did do it, my film was screened at the 40th Banff International Film and Book Festival.

It was mid-September when I heard about the 2015 Take Me Outside Student Video Contest. Take Me Outside is a non-profit organisation that supports teachers taking their classrooms outside more often. I thought what they were doing was awesome, so I decided to enter their contest. I felt like this would be a great opportunity because over the years that I’ve lived in Cumberland I’ve built a strong connection with nature. I only know half of the cool places hidden in the thick forest, but the ones I know are some of my favourite anywhere. I knew it would be easy to find the adventures. I wanted this film to show how awesome the outdoors around Cumberland is and connect people all across Canada to our little kickass town—one that is more than just crazy good donuts. There are millions of outdoor films, so I needed mine stand out. Then I thought, “Why don’t I just show how bad I am at all this sport stuff?” So, the video is mostly me taking nasty falls while attempting some of my favourite sports with a few editing tricks so I didn’t embarrass myself or my family.

Just as I was about to set out on a bike trip down to Victoria, I received an email from the founder of Take Me Outside, Colin Harris. He explained that I’d won the grand prize! Over the next couple of weeks we planned our all-expenses-paid trip to Banff to see my film alongside other great films at the Banff Mountain Film Fest. It was extremely surreal to stay at the Banff Centre in this amazing town hidden within enormous mountains that reach through the clouds—partly because I lost hours of sleep while making this film!

The time had come for me to suit up and experience my film on the big screen. Before watching mine, I got to see some other fascinating films that explored trail running, nature photography, orangutans, and, like a segment from my film, there was one about mountain unicycling.

Then the big moment finally arrived. Colin and I got to go onstage and introduce the film to the 400 people in the sold out theatre. This is a difficult thing to experience as a homeschooler, but luckily for me this wasn’t my first time onstage (although it was still very nerve-wracking). After taking my seat, the film came to life and I shared my Cumberland with hundreds of people who’d maybe never heard the name before. It felt kind of weird—but mostly insanely cool—that I was actually able to accomplish my goal of connecting people all across Canada to what I love and do best: filmmaking, the outdoors, and hot tubbing.

Colin was a great host and friend. It was inspiring to spend time with someone who’s had such success with his passion. It’s awesome to live in a town that supports what I love to do in so many ways. I’ve made a couple of films for the Cumberland Crate Company and one for the Cumberland Community School. I hope to document more of Cumberland during my adventures.

You can watch my film “Falling In Love With The Outdoors” on Youtube or Vimeo and you can see more of my work at taowernerfilms.weebly.com.