Two years ago an old friend from secondary school (24, and atop the brown horse on the left) and I (23, beside the white horse on the right) decided to venture to Argentina after graduating from university. The plan was to buy two horses and ride them across the country. We ended up doing just that, riding 2000km North along The Andes completely unguided and without vehicular support (the picture showing a motorbike and a van was taken by a couple of passers by who could not believe we had managed to get two horses up this particular mountain).
I wanted to do this despite having almost no horse riding experience, almost no experience of the outdoors (bar a few English music festivals) and suffering from horse hair allergies! I wish I could say it was an enjoyable trip but for the most part it was extremely uncomfortable and it remains the closest experience I have to dying. This was exacerbated by the fact that neither my friend nor I spoke any Spanish and by the cold weather which meant that the glaciers had not yet melted enough resulting in dry river beds where there was supposed to be water. Parts of the trip were extremely hard but what got me through a lot of the hardships was the documentary side project I was working on during the trip.
Upon arriving back home, I meticulously worked on editing the large amount of footage we had captured to make the documentary. Eventually, despite the large amount of footage, I concluded that it was not possible to finish the documentary since the footage was inadequate and incomplete. I then went back to being a student (studying for a Computer Science masters) and the documentary was placed on the back-burner for a couple of years.
Fast forward 2 years: I am now nearing the end of my degree and am preparing for a trip back to Argentina to finish the documentary. Over the past two years, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the trip and on who I am. In this period I have also been diagnosed with anxiety, body dysmorphia and depression. (NB: People often go travelling to find themselves but they never mention what to do if the person they find is someone they don't actually like!)
The kind of documentary I want to make has changed since the original filming. Originally, I wanted the film to be mainly a light hearted take on the trip's events as they unfolded. Instead of this, I would be filming it from the perspective of present day me, vaguely following the events of the trip from start to finish by walking in the footsteps of the routes taken. I shall be interviewing the many people that helped us along the way (with the aid of a translator this time) but while doing so, among many other ideas, I want to:
- Explore themes of mental health, highlighting its affect on men and the stigmas that come with it,
- Explore how close relationships can turn sour very quickly but also how long term relationships can be be damaging to people's mental health in ways that are obvious from the outside but are oblivious to the people within them,
- Explore themes of animal cruelty, exploitation and whether it should even be possible to 'own' a horse in addition to the natural human urge for animals to 'feel' something towards their owners in the same way that the owners feel something towards them,
- and highlight Argentina's changing culture from a 'Gaucho', rural, third world nation founded around using horses to its technological advances and fast-paced urbanisation; This is particularly topical with Argentina's current economic turmoil and the political crises of anti-government figures inexplicably 'going missing' whilst we were on the trip.
The documentary would keep its light-hearted jovial style but also have a heavier, emotional side to give it substance. The documentary would be about the trip but also about how a man suffering from anxiety can overcome the fear of the unknown, this time as someone who has come to terms with his mental health issues.
I strongly believe that this documentary would be relatable to a lot of people and would cover topics that, for whatever reason, are still taboo and heavily stigmatised. I also believe that people truly need to see the footage of the trip to believe what we actually went through as words can only describe so much.
I have already started buying the equipment needed for the trip but I am running out of funds very quickly. So far I have managed to secure a great deal on a cinema-grade camcorder. However I still have a long list of items necessary to make this documentary a reality, including a lens, camera equipment (such as a tripod, memory cards and batteries), a drone and Boom radio microphones. I am also still searching for a Spanish translator who can double up as the camera man for when I need to be the subject of the shot and I would love to be able to offer them payment, even if it is just travel and food costs!
I therefore require donations of any degree to make this dream into a reality and to prove to myself, more than anyone else, that I can overcome anxiety to do something amazing. Such donations may just be the very thing which forces me to do it. I realise that this is not much to go on but to anyone that helps me, if I make money from the documentary from companies offering to buy it, I will ensure that you get paid back in full in addition to having your names in the credits.
Thank you very much for your time and for reading this rather long story. Feel free to send me messages (if you can send messages on this website - this is my first time using it so I am unsure) should there be any questions and I'd be happy to answer them!