Extreme kayaker visits Lane, shares stories of adventure


By Marissa Higgs


On Dec. 10, Bryan Smith, an extreme filmmaker from National Geographic, gave a presentation in the auditorium on his explorations, successes, and failures.

Smith grew up in Michigan and for years assumed he would pursue a career in biology. In college, while studying science, he began kayaking and eventually decided he wanted to make a living doing anything involving the water sport. This led to his passion for films.

“I didn’t really know I wanted to be a filmmaker until I got out and started exploring,” he said.

Eventually, Smith began working with National Geographic as a filmmaker. The first thing he did with the organization was a film about extreme sports called Nat Geo-Amazing.

One of the more intense stories he shared in his presentation was a mountain climbing expedition with Dean Potter. Potter is known for free climbing, slacklining, and BASE jumping. Smith told the story of him and his teammates creating a 40 foot ramp that extended off the side of a mountain in order for Potter to be able to safely jump from the mountain. Without the shots of the jump, the expedition would have been a failure.

Smith emphasized the importance of teamwork and how with it people are “able to achieve something that at face value seemed impossible.”

Smith shared lessons he has learned on failure, education, persistence, and patience. He also explained how he came to discover three types of fun: 1. the things that are fun to plan, fun while they last, and then fun to talk about later, 2. the things that are hard but later realize were fun, and 3. the things that are fun at first, become challenging, and then are rather embarrassing to talk about later.

The presentation ended with questions and answers from students in the audience. Following this, the people taking film studies were ushered into room 113 for an extended opportunity to ask more questions about work. Smith talked more about handling equipment and potential college majors that could help students reach their goal in film making. He also discussed the difficulties of getting good shots.

“You will, as a filmmaker, miss things…there’s always going to be compromise…try to create buffers in your film to make room for mistakes,” Smith said.

Smith plans on continuing his career at National Geographic and going on explorations to new and different parts of the world.

“This is the path I’ve chosen…I’m not going to stop,” he said.