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Beyond the Pole

The last couple of weeks on this blog have become a bit self-helpy, wishy-washy. So it’s time today to get back to the world of expeditions.

One of the deep frustrations with working in this sphere is the choking algae of novelty projects, celebrities grabbing their 10-minutes of manliness and -true story- people emailing to ask where they can find a million quid of sponsorship and if they know somewhere to buy a map…

There are people doing hardcore stuff that shows what is possible, people doing stuff for the right reasons, people doing things simply because they want to do them. And all these people are finding it increasingly difficult because of the oxygen-starving algae of endless documentary film crews following the first carbon neutral, organic, vegetarian expedition ever to attempt the North Pole. Simultaneously Saving the Planet and getting into the Guinness Book of Records…

[update: I know that this is a spoof film! It is marvellous, and it totally ridicules my new life. I love it.]

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  1. Bravo Al, I have to agree with you there my friend.

  2. Destined to be a classic 🙂

  3. Michael Blackwood Barnes Posted

    Superb post. Totally agree with the sentiment.

  4. What’s the difference between them and you other than they have someone else to film them and you film yourselves?

  5. Dear Devil,

    Thanks for your comment – please keep them coming!

    What I have an issue with is not TV documentaries. It is people claiming to do exceptional things when they really are not.
    I do not mind people doing things that are not uber-hardcore (eg my India walk). The prob is just when people claim they are doing more than they really are.
    Also I am tired of everything having to be done because it is a record, or because it is a first, or because it will bring fame. I’m more interested in the Joss Naylors of the world, those who do stuff just for the doing…

  6. Great response to Devil’s comment Al. I do however fear i may have fallen into the category ‘novelty projects’.

  7. Kevin – not in the slightest! It’s all in the way you live your project. Just remember throughout your journey the REAL reasons you are doing it…

  8. …Not in my eyes obviously, but i have had a couple of comments. I think it may be a slippy slope, unless of course you do go for something crazy that you know will grab a lot of media attention…

  9. wowthatsbonzer Posted

    hey alastair – this film is a comedy feature film. its not actually real! We caught it in fort lauderdale and it went down a storm. These guys made this film for nothing – dont shoot them down – its not reality tv!!

  10. i totally agree with you. records is good, premiere too. Pushing the limits is good, but there is too much crapy people with good PR mixing up everything. in france too 🙂 people brake their credit card at the beginning of the trip and film the trip with proffesional camera asking food and hospitality in poor country. They say they do it like the old pelgrims…

    people don’t experience anymore, we just want to have fame. I have the sentiment that adventurer before did adventure to discover and they get fame after because they deserved it, but they did not explor for fame. They wanted more to share what they saw than having their documentary in all festivals. maybe i’m wrong

    But it’s tricky now, it’s difficult to get money(sponsorship) if you don’t cut your leg before, or don’t want to finish your trip on the moon. I don’t know if people do it for pleasure or for another reason :

    passion is difficult to have if you always need to find a way to get money. media are also responsible for this. It is difficult to share story on big media. Maybe if you die, you will pass on TV news. But here we are more interressed by sarkozy and his son, than by the world. Media wants powerful image, and powerful image is not often the reality.

  11. But you are all struggling for sponsorship no? You can’t get your trips off the ground because you lack the one thing that you are criticising in others – a high profile and publicity.

    So you can’t have it both ways. You can’t attempt to finance your trips through coporate sponsorship and have a twitter / vimeo / facebook information interaction going on with the world and then claim that you think others (who HAVE got financing) are driven by the desire for fame – not by the desire for real exploration.

    As you point out there is very little real exploration left to be done.

    For them it will be the same as it is for you – an opportunity for an adventure that necessitates a certain amount of media engagement to get it off the ground and financed.

    Don’t presume to know what the motivations of others are.
    And just because their trips may not seem as hardcore as yours doesn’t mean they aren’t for them. I’d imagine it was as much an effort for Chris Moyles to haul his arse up Kilmanjaro as it was for you to do your adventures.

  12. Dear Devil,

    You have a lot of good points in your comment. Let me try to clarify myself…

    You are exactly right about the need for publicity to fund these trips (though not any of the trips I have ever done so far). So, as I said earlier I have no issue with TV documentaries. It is people claiming to do exceptional things when they really are not.

    Again, I appreciate that I too am fully signed up to the self-whoring world. I have great respect for those seeking to push the limits, and no problems if they film/blog/tweet about it. The prob is just when people claim they are doing more than they really are.

    I also agree with your Chris Moyles point: I have more respect for my mother-in-law’s London Marathon performance than my own. She was on her feet for twice as long as I was, and finishing the race was a far bigger deal for her than for me. The last thing I would ever want to do is put people off from doing things because I personally would find them easy to do. That would be completely abhorrent, and also is something I would never do as I am well aware that I am no athlete, I am not elite at anything I do.
    I rank myself in the masses of normal people, doing the best we can do.
    And that is absolutely fine. What galls me is just people biggin’ themselves up beyond their dues.

    Have I explained properly?



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