Will and Jim Pattiz, two brothers from Georgia, have set out to document the beauty and unique splendor of our national parks. In the year of our nation's 100th anniversary of these parks, it seems necessary to explore this duo's passion and determination to increase awareness of these parks and encourage people to visit and support the National Park System.
Unlike any other country in the world, the United States of America is home to 59 national parks. Federally protected lands like these simply do not exist other places. The amount of land set aside in the US is due, in part, to the forward thinking of so many that have come before us. Acts of environmentalism, civil responsibility, and federal action have made it possible to visit these national treasures. It's important to take note of today's individuals who are striving to protect these lands and ensure that they will be around for generations to come.
Our timing couldn't be more perfect with this article, as the Pattiz brothers have just released their latest film; one set along the borders of our great state in one of our nation's most unique and expansive parks, Voyageurs National Park. Make sure you visit their website and you'll soon be planning your adventures to Voyageurs.
How did you get started with this project? Where/when did your passion begin?
Will - About four or five years ago we visited our first national park on a spur-of-the-moment road trip with friends deciding it would be cool to see the Grand Canyon. We drove from Atlanta, where we're from. Along the way we stopped off I-40 at Petrified Forest National Park. Our lives were forever changed. Stepping inside a national park is like setting foot on another planet. It is awe-inspiring - they take your breath away. Coming from the East Coast and driving/hiking through a place with such a unique and incredible landscape was life-changing. We thought to ourselves, 'how have we never been to one of these places before?" Which quickly evolved into, "how many other people have never been to a national park?" And finally, "we've got to share these places with as many folks as we can," - thus More Than Just Parks was born.
What happened that one day you and your brother thought, "hey, let's make a short film on each national park!"?
Jim - That day was the culmination of several trips to the national parks after we'd become hooked. Being filmmakers with a background in digital media we figured why not try and make something out of our passion for the parks. We tossed around a lot of wild ideas and eventually sold ourselves on the concept of More Than Just Parks as it is today. We had never tried time-lapse
photography and knew very little about it, but we knew it would be the key to capturing these places and distilling them into short watchable films.
Tell Us a bit about your backgrounds.
Jim - Will's 25, I'm 24. We both grew up in a small town south of Atlanta, GA. We gained an interest in filmmaking through an annual student film festival our high school held. We both attended one year of college before leaving to start our own business. Over the past several years we have headed up Sea Raven Media, a full service media firm and production house.
Do you camp during these trips?
Jim - Unfortunately we have to charge our equipment at some point! We try to camp as much as possible in order to really maximize our time in the park and get the full experience. I'd say we probably camp 80-90% of the time, but it varies from park to park based on a number of factors including weather.
What is it like to spend an extended time in such awe-inspiring places- emotionally, physically, spiritually?
Will - In a typical day we wake up a minimum of one hour before the sun to capture its rise - usually around 4am. From there we usually have morning hikes planned for filming. After the hikes we get creative during the harsh light of the midday finding canyons or other spots we feel we may be able to capture. During this time we usually pack an on-the-go lunch. From there we travel around the park, maybe set up a new camp, and continue filming. Later in the day we start getting set up for the sunset. If we're lucky, sometimes we have a bit of time between the time the sun sets and when the stars come out to have a campfire dinner. Otherwise we head straight to a location where we can shoot the stars, usually getting to bed around 1-2am.
Has this project changed you in any way?
Jim - Getting to go to these places and have these incredible experiences has definitely changed us. Spending so much time in the parks has given us a deeper appreciation and understanding of them. Beyond that, in our travels we get to have these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, meeting people and exploring places that very few people ever get the opportunity to. It's something we cherish and something we encourage others to try.
What's behind the name "More Than Just Parks?"
Will - The name, "More Than Just Parks," is intended as an open-ended challenge for folks to get out there and experience the parks for themselves. These places mean so much to so many and they mean different things to different people. If there were a subheading for our project it might read, "What they are is up to you."
Do you find new meaning behind this phrase for different parks?
Jim - Of course! So many of these places are so incredibly unique! Voyageurs is perhaps the most unique park in the entire system with its interconnected lakes and waterways and almost no roads! As you're paddling the calm waters of Kabetogama or Namaken you can certainly get the sense that this place is so much more than just a park.
Do you show these in large screen theaters or strictly online viewing?
Jim - We release them online for anyone and everyone to see. After all, that's what the project is all about. We've also been fortunate enough to have our films shown on the big screen in various film festivals and events as the project has gone along.
What is your goal of getting the message out? What do you most want people to know about this project?
Will - Get out there and experience a national park for yourself. Visiting a national park is a life-changing experience - one that we encourage everyone to have. No film, including ours, can come close to the real thing- that is experiencing these wonders firsthand.
Jim - We're just filmmakers who care deeply about our national parks and the concept of public lands. To that end I hope we can make a difference.
About the parks?
Jim - The national parks are part of our national identity. They are monuments to nature - set aside and preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of the people - for all time. They provide us with opportunities for recreation and solitude. Beyond that, they provide us with the opportunity to see our country unspoiled, in all its magnificence. People come from all corners of the world to peer into the depths of the greatest canyon on earth, or to watch the geysers of Yellowstone erupt, or to stare up at the granite cliffs from Yosemite Valley. The national parks are national treasures; their importance is unquantifiable. It's important that they be safeguarded so that future generations can experience them in all of their splendor, just as we can today.
MORE THAN JUST PARKS
Our goal is to effect a greater awareness of the treasures that reside within America's national parks. We plan to accomplish this goal through visually stunning short films, engaging online interactions, and breathtaking imagery. This journey through America's 59 national parks is fueled by contributions and built around partnerships with generous, conservation-minded organizations and folks like you. If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring a park let us know. 100% of your donations go toward making more captivating short films like the ones we've already made. You can also purchase a print as a way of supporting our cause. The journey to 59 national parks starts here. Help us get there.