A Wild Independence, directed by Alden Olmsted and produced by Bear Yuba Land Trust, tells the story of the first identified wheelchair-accessible hiking path in the United States. It was built by Olmsted’s father, John Olmsted, in the 1970s and 80s along Excelsior Ditch, a product of the Gold Rush that diverted water from the South Yuba River for hydraulic mining.
The trail consists of several wooden flumes, but the focal point is Flume 28, which is over 500 feet in length and crosses Rush Creek above a waterfall. A decaying, switchbacking boardwalk leads to the creek for visitors to picnic, cool off, and take photos of the historic flume. At least, all of this was the case up until August of 2020, when the Jones Fire ripped through the Rush Creek area and destroyed every flume on the Independence Trail.
These are the flames in which the film begins.
-- courtesy Sierra Nevada Ally
Premiering on KVIE 6 PBS Sacramento - Stream it here
30 Bikes: The Story of Homestead Bicycles
Twenty-three years after his BMX bicycle company folded, Alden Olmsted sets out to reconnect with the people his innovative bikes impacted and possibly re-launch the brand that was born out of a teenage dream.
"I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London
Born & Raised
I was born in a small town called Glen Ellen with John Olmsted as a bulldozer-blocking-nature- crusader father, a history major mother, and one older brother.
Sonoma became our home, where despite a divorce I had a semi-normal childhood filled with paper routes, street football, computer game playing, and BMX.
I attended college in Santa Rosa and Los Angeles and have explored parts of Europe as well as 47 of these United States.
I have owned 16 vehicles the most famous being a 1966 Chrysler convertible featured in Catch Me if You Can (00:58) and Bottle Shock.
In 2017 I received a 'Real Hero' award from the Red Cross, North Coast Chapter for my efforts to preserve my father's legacy in Mendocino and across California. Link
I currently reside in Nashville and, when I hear the call, on the road.
Beginning with skateboard videos, summer camp mash-ups, and Super 8mm shorts, I have landed in the documentary world without intention, focusing on interesting people and their stories, and oral history that may be lost.
Director / Producer / Writer 2012 - My Father Who Art in Nature
2014 - The Story of Jug Handle
2020 - 30 Bikes The Story of Homestead Bicycles https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11045998/
2022 - A Wild Independence https://www.imdb.com/title/tt15343766/
Director of Photography: 2018 - Unprotected (DP) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8539512/
2022 - Dysconnected (DP) In progress
From a young age I was drawn to stories. The Black Stallion, The Hobbit, and of course Star Wars were early favorites. As soon as I could ride a bike my friends and I began our adventures and living out our own stories.
As I began experimenting with film I was drawn to Super 8mm, the colors and the emotion it evoked. No speaking, instead focusing on the power of music to match the visual, causing a full range of emotions and reactions.
My philosophy with documentaries starts, not surprisingly with research. Fiction films are made in the edit room, documentaries are made in the research. When the arc of the story appears, when the peak of conflict and resolution POPS out of an old picture, a letter, a revelation that slips out in an interview, those are the moments I live for.
The story then can be massaged and built, much like a house, to enhance the peak, the moment of revealed truth which of course every great story should contain.