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2014 Unbranded Interviews: Phill Baribeau, Part One

Published: 1/28/2015
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Editor's Note: A year after the Unbranded team reached the Canadian border and on the eve of submission deadlines to major film festivals, NickerNews interviewed director Phill Baribeau.
Baribeau, 35, put in hundreds of hours in the saddle as the chief cameraman on the 3,000-mile trek. He lives in Bozeman, Montana and runs Implement Productions, an independent production company.
Read additional interview with Baribeau here.

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Read 2013 trip interviews here.

NN: I heard you got heat stroke at one point during the trip. Can you tell me more about that?

PB: Yeah, well, it was in the Grand Canyon. Obviously one of our most scenic trips of the entire journey.
Almost all the shoots were shot with just one cameraman. There was probably a couple that we did with two. So, it's gonna take us two days, one day to get down, one day to get up. And I just knew I wanted to squeeze every possible shot out of it, because it's so scenic.
Anyways, right where we started dropping in, everywhere you look is an amazing shot. The trails are so steep they basically drop off on the side. I’m on and off the horse like I'm used to. Running ahead, then back.
So, the whole way down that first day I didn't even ride. I just would run ahead and get some shot, leapfrogging back and forth and back and forth, trying to get as many different angles as possible.

I was telling Ben that it was like a term I called 'Dogbeach:' You know when you take a dog to the beach, you let him out of the car and he sits there and his whole body starts freaking out and wagging because he doesn't know what to do:
He sees water.
He sees other dogs.
He sees Frisbees.
He sees people.

[Photos at right, crossing the Colorado River and approaching Phantom Ranch.]

And it's so over-stimulating. He doesn't know what to do. Well, that's what I had the entire trip in the Grand Canyon. Every direction you look is an incredible shot. I don't even know what to settle on because it's all good.
But we're also under time constraint, so we can't just set up the perfect shot. I basically have to go the same rate they're riding, but faster because they get ahead and I have to get ahead.

NN: And you’re on foot?

PB: Yeah. And I can't really stop. So, by the time we got down to the Colorado River, to camp at Phantom Ranch, it just hit me. Once I stopped moving, all the sudden my head just started pounding. I got super dizzy.  And then it was another few miles past the ranch and I was gone. I was ghost white. Thought I was going to get sick the whole time.
Once we got to camp, I instantly drank a lot of water and went to sleep. It was pretty bad once I got to the bottom, but fortunately I got a deep night's sleep and felt fine the next day.  So, it was worth it.

NN: Did they give you any medical help or dunk you in the river or anything like that?

PB: Yeah there was a little creek down at the ranch, so I put my head in that, took some Advil, and just drank some water. I felt nauseous the whole time.

Coming in Part II: The long, arduous journey of filmmaking shifts to the office.

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