The Independence Trail
And just like that I'm onto the next film. Join me as I tell the history of my father's beloved Independence Trail - the first wheelchair-accessible nature trail in the U.S. It was burned beyond repair in the lightning-strike fires of August and is getting some much needed community love.
Donate today and keep me runnin' while I make what will be an amazing film!
Homestead Bicycles and T-Shirt swag
In 1991 I started a BMX Bicycle Company called Homestead Bicycles. I'd just dropped out of college, hadn't researched any market conditions or strategies, but I had a dream I could create a really cool bike. A bike that might not be for everyone but that was unique and fast and light. I got Cyclecraft in Tennessee to weld them, Pro racer Brian Foster to paint them, sponsored a kid from Auburn, CA as my factory rider, and I was on my way.
For four years I drove around the western U.S. to ABA races, and ran BMX programs for two youth summer camps. I made a ton of shirts and stickers and all told sold 30 bikes, but hardly enough to make a living.
In 1995 I folded Homestead and haven't looked back.
Join me as I try to locate everyone and anyone who owned a Homestead Basilisk BMX frame. Early metallic green models were painted by a young upstart racer named Brian Foster, with the water-running Basilisk lizard as my guide. More bikes are out there so stay tuned and follow @homesteadbicycles on IG
An old camera found in a closet led to a slow education, but convinced my dad to gift me a Topcon camera kit, complete with James Bond-like metal suitcase. My pictures got instantly better, having multiple and high quality lenses to play with, but the shutter wasn't up to my number of shots, and began to fail intermittently on a cross - country trip to Indiana to purchase an old Chrysler convertible.
Fate smiled though, when I popped in to a camera shop in Scotts Valley and the store owner recommended what is now my favorite camera, the 70's - 80's classic Canon F-1. I finally found a camera with a great light meter, that operated in very extreme conditions, and that produced in print the image I saw and wanted to capture when I originally took the shot.
25,000+ photos later, in heat and cold, sun and rain, it's been held above my head in the Yuba River, huddled with me under a crevice opposite Half Dome (temperatures in the teens) in Yosemite, slid down dirt cliffs on more than one occasion, dangled over the edge of Havasu Falls in Arizona, accompanied me to England and Wales, and will continue I hope, to accompany me on many more adventures to come.
Questions about print sizes and mounting options? - Just ask!
Alden's Local | Art & Stationery
"Oh, the places you'll go.."
When I read that book as a kid I took it as an assumed fact, not just a winsome daydream. Somewhere between the gas station postcard and the fanciest letterpress cards on Melrose there's room for postcards that are hand-drawn and that include fun spots for locals and tourists to both enjoy.
My Alden's Local designs are available as:
I've llustrated my first children's book, written by Richard Barna, about the legend of
'Elmer' in Yosemite!
The legend of 'Elmer' in Yosemite Valley goes back all the way to the 1930's - and though many dispute the exact origin, the calls of "Elmer" around dinnertime can be heard even today in Yosemite campgrounds. Follow Elmer's journey - and ours as we promote our book at http://facebook.com/elmerstory
I have been shooting and and editing videos since my late teenage years, and in 2006 shot my first feature film Dill, California on a 16mm Arriflex Camera that I bought online four days earlier. It was an amazing experience, and I have since made three documentaries, written six screenplays, and pitched television pilots to alcoholic producers.
Director of Photography on Convinced (2015), a feature documentary exploring 'Why would any intelligent, sane person become Catholic?
Director of Photography on Unprotected, a feature documentary exploring the history and results of contraception, feminism, and the sexual revolution. Trailer on Vimeo. Click for local screenings here.
30 Bikes is the story of a tiny BMX Bicycle company I started in 1991 after writing a letter to Bob Haro. I dropped out of college, enlisted Cyclecraft to manufacture the frames, and designed a pro race bike called the Basilisk. I ran the company for four years before running out of steam and resources.
23 years later I'm tracking down the 30 bikes I sold, who bought them and why, and where are they now.
Maybe we were sick long before the virus. America Unmasked is a series of shorts exploring the reality and response of the corona virus pandemic, ensuing lockdowns, and the psychology behind the fear.
Press and Comments
Five Stars *****
Olmsted Film receives standing ovation ~
Alden Olmsted's film My Father, Who Art in Nature receives standing ovation at Wild and Scenic Film Festival https://lightcapfarm.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/alden-olmsted-receives-standing-ovation-for-my-father-who-art-in-nature/
Thank You so much! ~
I just wanted to let you know how much our boss LOVED the map that you created. She was so touched and could not stop staring at it, looking for the places she knows. Also, I cannot recall if I said this but when our team took a look at the map prior to giving it to our boss, we were all so impressed and thrilled. It looks awesome!
Thank you so much for working with me (us) to create that wonderfully personal, custom map! The map and my boss' reaction were better than we had hoped for.
- Rosemary K
I was born in a small town in Northern California. While my Muir-inspired father John D. Olmsted was off stopping bulldozers and saving state parks - like Jug Handle State Natural Reserve in Mendocino, and building wheelchair trails out of old mining ditches - like the Independence Trail in Nevada City - my history-major mother was teaching my brother and I about California history and driving the neighborhood after dark.. looking for her youngest son.
I made it one and a half semesters through college, dropping out to start a bmx bicycle company at age 19. Summer camp employment in the Santa Cruz Mountains, mission trips to Mexicali, screen printing classes and a different car nearly every year, my twenties were a wide mix of almost-successes and lots of lessons learned.
In 1999 I made a simple but important journey - saving up and flying to Indiana to purchase a 1966 Chrysler convertible. I knew I needed to buckle down and get my life together, but I also realized I needed to enjoy the present, and the convertible was the perfect choice. It's since been featured in films like Catch Me If You Can, Bottle Shock, and TV shows like Cold Case Files, and every time the top goes down is a reminder to me to slow down and enjoy the ride.
In 2001 I would return to college, working full time and taking night classes to finally graduate in 2003 from Biola University with a bachelor's degree in business and organizational leadership.
Until 2008 I had a mostly normal life, enjoying the fruits of a good job, summer house parties, traveling abroad, buying a new car, and even filming my first movie, Dill, California. I knew however, that if I really wanted to write and direct films the clock was ticking so I left my stable but predictable life and headed back to Hollywood - for the third time for those keeping count.
After writing three screenplays and going to lots of networking mixers and events, I was wondering if I'd made the right choice. That was when I got the phone call that would change the next decade of my life - my father had six months to live.
A hurried trailer and a whirlwind experience of becoming my father's caregiver resulted in my first feature-length documentary My Father, Who Art in Nature (2012), which showed at Nevada City's Wild and Scenic Film Festival, and to my dad, five days before he died.
* * *
Life is still different since I accepted that call to care for dad but I'm finally convinced of my path - to explore human nature and our choices, to share what I find in an artistic and vulnerable way, and to give my gift back to the world.
~ March 2020
© 2020 Alden Olmsted