Hilary Oliver is an adventurer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Denver, CO. You can learn more about Hilary and her travels at her website, thegription.com.
My body shuddered involuntarily at the lightning strike that shot across the mesa outside my Subaru window. Raindrops had been beaning my windows louder and louder—I wondered if all my other friends were up: Ashlee and Becca sleeping in the pickup bed, Anya in the back of her Honda Element, and Brooke, hopefully in her car with her baby instead of still in her tent. But I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open to text Brooke and check in from across the campground. Turns out, shooting beautiful sunrise and sunset desert light means getting up super early and staying up late. But hopefully it will be worth it, I thought, pulling my sleeping bag back over my head.
The project had started with a feeling—one I thought others might share: The feeling that we are our most true, natural, wild selves when we’re in the outdoors. The feeling of freedom and lightness that comes when we’re climbing, paddling, mountain biking or sleeping under the stars. The feeling that if we don’t get ourselves out there to those quiet places often enough, we can start to forget who we really are, and even begin to forget our true dreams.
After writing a script that seemed to feel like more than just a blog post, I chatted with my dear friend, adventure photographer Becca Skinner, about it. She’d been shooting more video lately and was interested in collaborating on something from the heart, maybe a short film that expressed our own feelings about being in wild places. Thankfully, a few of our friends seemed to share our feeling, and were willing to spend several days in the Utah desert in front of the camera.
We slept on the ground and in our cars, we climbed and hiked and ran and mountain biked. And we worked hard to try to capture the feeling of reconnecting with yourself out in the wild. The way we see it, the wild, free and alive parts of us only stay that way if we let them. And sometimes the best way to remember that is to get in a car and drive someplace big and beautiful, even if it’s just for a weekend. To get a little scared, climbing on a cliff face—to remember that you can be brave. To feel the wind toss your hair as you’re running down the trail—and remember you can be free. To laugh with your friends around a campfire—and remember you’re deeply connected.
After a week of editing the footage with my sister, Whitney Oliver, we were proud to have a piece of work that expressed those feelings. At its premiere at the 5Point Film Festival in April, our film, Being Here, received the People’s Choice Award, and we’re happy to share it with you now online. We hope it reminds you of how you feel when you’re out in wild places—and maybe remind you that there’s something wild in you, too.
All photos courtesy of Becca Skinner Photography.