Travel Diaries – Nuit de la Glisse film shoot
Point of view of Thierry Donard, Director of the Nuit de la Glisse films.
Éric Deguil - With three World Extreme Kayak Championship titles, Eric is one of the most decorated guys on the river. He has been in and around the top 3 extreme kayakers for several years and his everyday life revolves around waterfalls and other vertical drops. This is his second time taking part in Nuit de la Glisse.
Sofia Reinoso - Sofia is a talented young Mexican kayaker. Her parents were also kayakers and she's been learning how to tame wild rivers and torrents since she was little. Now she spends over 300 days per year in the water.
After a testing start to shooting this year, I felt the need to escape into the lush green wilderness so this sequence in Mexico arrived at just the right time. Eric and I had been talking about these rivers in Mexico for over two years, dreaming about going to shoot the rapids at Agua Azul.
After a long preparation period we were finally ready to commence this expedition and what an expedition it was!
It’s not easy to organise a shoot in an area controlled by the Zapatistas and we had to get in contact with numerous local tribes to ask for special permissions to enter.
Eric also needed a partner to take on the white waters. Sofia Reinoso, a young Mexican kayaker from the Vera Cruz province, the freeride kayak mecca, joined us on our adventure.
Once we were on the ground we needed to find the right local contacts to help us with the negotiations with the Zapatistas to let us into their territories. On one side of the river, the tourists’ side, it's Disneyland, the other, Machetes! After hours of negotiation and a night of deliberation we were finally granted permission to cross the river and access the other branches of the torrent.
The rewards were immediate, paradise: no telephones or Internet connection, no electricity, people living in small communities, they don't have burgers, sodas or sweets for the kids…they live from fishing, hunting and their strong culture.
We spent four days with them, they’d follow us when we were shooting, guide us and carry our kayaks, cameras and tripods, that was part of our arrangement, it didn't cost much and they were happy to join us on our adventure.
We set out into the forest and we quickly got the impression we were exploring a completely pristine jungle. After some time we were finally approaching the river that no one had ever been down on a kayak.
Children were running all around us and although we weren't really allowed to film them, Eric and Sofia were the centre of attention with the whole village coming out to celebrate their achievement.
In the middle of winter, this trip was a way for me to regroup and gather the mental strength I’d need…Waiting for me when I got back was undoubtedly the most physically and mentally demanding scene I ever had to shoot.
Back in Europe, I was on the road from Chamonix to the Dolomites. I couldn't stop thinking about the shafts of light and the magic moments I had in that pristine forest. I reflected on the locals who lived contentedly with hardly anything, people we had a strong bond with. Eric and Sofia had earned their respect and now that the link has been established, I really hope to go back there one day and show them what we filmed.
My rational mind snapped me out of it, I was nervous. I was preparing to take part in a crazy project. I wasn’t even sure if I should commit to filming such a thing but I have total confidence in my two wingsuit pilots, I know they’ll leave nothing to chance. When I look at the other members of my crew, I can see the tension in their faces, all asking the same question: will the same number of people be coming back?
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