Though a road may look smooth, sometimes you encounter a few bumps. Adventures are similar, and Drew Smith and Dylan Gordon found that filming their backcountry adventure had its fair share of bumps.
We caught up with Drew and Dylan to get the inside scoop on the making of a Young Man’s Road.
How Drew and Dylan Met
They became fast friends more than seven years ago, bonding over lifestyle, the outdoors, and photography.
Drew: I think the first time I met you, we were on a trip to Joshua Tree, and there was a big group of us, wait maybe not, maybe it was before that.
Dylan: I think we had climbed here a little bit like Potrero John and then Joshua tree was when we first spent time. But our first actual trip together was driving to Montana.
Drew: But I remember I got back and was doing construction, and Dylan was a professional photographer, and I was like man, that is so cool. Then I went to Patagonia and came back, and I hit you up, and you said you and a friend were heading to Big Sur. So, I jumped in the van, and we went surfing for four days, and while we were doing that, I told you, “I am driving to Wyoming. Do you want to road trip” and Dylan was like, “hell yeah.” I was living in my forerunner with everything I owned, and Dylan jumped in with a little backpack and his camera, and we road tripped out to Utah, and he was taking pictures and stuff. We kept in touch, and then Dylan came and saw me in Yosemite.
That was a long time ago, 2013, maybe when we first met, so it’s been a while, like seven years. We started hanging a lot more when you got me involved with Roark. So, then we pretty much started working together.
Choosing the Location
Despite having to push the shoot date, the story-line and location were evident to both of them.
Dylan: I think it felt natural to shoot the film in Montana because Drew is from there, knows the land, and was in the region when we were hoping to align. I feel like telling someone’s story the landscape in which you shoot has a lot to do with revealing a bit of character. So being able to go to Montana, which he is from, was rad.
Drew: We talked about other places that are a big part of my life like Yosemite, or the desert in Utah and stuff like that. But then, with COVID and the date getting pushed, Dylan was going to meet me wherever I was going to be; I told him, “I am going to be in Montana, you should come to Montana,” and he was like perfect.
What to Shoot
They had both also known that they wanted to focus on climbing as that is one of Drew’s real passions in life, but he also does a lot of other stuff.
Drew: We talked a little bit about dirt biking, but I kind of feel like that’s in many outlets, and motorcycling is a big part of Dylan’s life, and rock climbing is pretty much all I do other than take photos.
Dylan: In terms of the film, Drew, you do a lot of s@*%. We were primarily focused on capturing an element of you constantly living out of your van and traveling. When it came to the film, it was pretty obvious. We wanted to concentrate on telling the story of where you grew up, what you do, and the that even when you aren’t on jobs, you are still climbing and continually moving from place to place.
Our personal dynamic, we both had talked about riding after we were done shooting. It’s funny we had dirt bikes with us, and we were going to go ride, but at the same time, Drew picked up a job and rolled out.
Drew: In a way, we wanted to focus it down. You can only tell so much in ten minutes.
Dylan: We do have that funny soundbite of you rattling off every job you have ever had, or almost every.
Unseen Moments from the Film
You can have a perfect plan with all things, but you can never plan for the unseen variables. In Drew and Dylan’s case, that is precisely what happened when they set out to film Drew climbing.
Drew: We got up at like, 4 AM because we wanted to get early light to shoot on that spire we climbed. We thought no one would be out here because we picked that location to avoid dealing with other people. But when we got there, we bumped into a couple that had slept at the base. Since we were going to be filming, we just let them go ahead and climb first.
My girlfriend and I went halfway up the mountain then came down to wait for them to get off the summit, and we got antsy. The weather was starting to come in, and we thought it would rain… it did rain, but there were these huge thunderheads. So we thought let’s just get some footage, and by the time we get to the top, they will be off the top, and my girlfriend and I climbed really fast to the top of the and the couple, they were just beginners, so they were going really slow, and we beat them to the top.
When they got to the top, and they were just chilling. I told them what we were doing, and we weren’t jerks about it, so they just took their time and hung out on top, I took some pictures of them, and I showed them how to get down.
Dylan: There’s your blooper clip. We have them dangling above us.
Drew: They started to repel off the spire, and they were doing stuff that every inexperienced climber does, but it just happened to be horrible timing.
Dylan: Then they got in the best shot of the film. With the light, clouds, and everything, it was phenomenal. So, the shot of Drew walking along the top of the spine, that was the second take of it, the first take was phenomenal, but then it pans over and reveals the fact that there are other people. It was my biggest heartbreak of the film.
Drew: We would have been done in half a day, but we ended up getting back to the car at like 11 PM or something.
Fortunately, this was the only major setback during filming despite Bruno (Dylan’s shadow) not liking drones, a habit he must have picked up from his owner Dylan, and Drew’s van getting stuck in the river. The shoot went flawlessly and has given us a truly spectacular film.
Watch the full backcountry adventure here to get a better look into who Drew is and his story.