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Glenwood Springs native’s film mixes adventure, art

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Courtesy still
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Adrian Matthew Glasenapp spoke simply and passionately about why he first picked up a video camera.

“I just wanted to make people feel something,” he said.

After four years of filming, it seems the Glenwood native is getting his wish.



His movie, “Light in Liquid: a kayak collage of movement and sound,” is a 55-minute homage to kayaking and the folks who love it. Shot on location on rivers throughout the U.S. and Mexico, this unique, sometimes ethereal take on sports films must be speaking to people. Recently featured at river fundraisers, it’s raised about $10,000 for different water causes. So far, it’s also played at a half dozen film festivals in the U.S. and Canada and has taken home a few awards. Currently, it’s traveling with Banff Mountain Film Festival’s “Radical Reels” tour.

And while Glasenapp, 33, sounded proud of all this, he was laid back at the same time. He doesn’t want to seem like “some rad dude who made some rad film,” he said. Though it features him and a few dozen of his paddling buddies, this movie isn’t only about them.



“Recognizing these magical rivers is part of what this film is about,” he said. “They really are the lifeblood of all, of everything.”

He’s felt that way for a long while. Born by the ocean in Santa Cruz, Calif., he was raised in Glenwood, a few blocks from the Colorado River. While getting an art degree at Colorado State University, he spent his summers here and guided rafting trips down the Colorado. Around that time, he dived into kayaking as well and got into a group of paddlers. In his 20s, he took river trips with friends to Costa Rica and on his own to British Columbia. No matter where he was, being in a kayak was this “zen” experience, he said, one where he had to be completely present. Boating also introduced him to gorgeous, remote settings he might not have known otherwise. When he set out to make this movie, he didn’t have a plan ” but a desire to share and help preserve the water he’d so completely fallen for.

“I think that a very large part of conservation is just showing people what is out there in the world,” he said.

And so he did. Shooting began not long after he’d taken a job at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins (where he still works). He made the movie in fits and spurts, whenever he could. Many a weekend, he’d come home after a 40- or 50-hour workweek, just to keep shooting or editing or finding the right music for a sequence. Sometimes filming a scene was as easy as stepping out of his boat, he explained, while other times, he’d be hanging onto a slippery cliff and desperately trying to get the right shot. Though he admitted to a “love-hate” relationship with “Liquid,” he never let up on it ” even after putting more than $10,000 of his own money into it.

“I just had this drive, this insatiable drive to create this thing,” he said.

What he ended up with is part travelogue, part buddy film. Many scenes show a gaggle of dudes playing around ” and then hurling straight into white water. Since several of Glasenapp’s friends helped out with the filming, there’s plenty of minutes with Glasenapp himself. Helmet cam shots rev up the energy and give the audience the stomach churning sense that they too are flying through the air. Contrasting these adrenaline-inducing scenes are several abstract, quiet ones. They present images of rain drops falling onto glass or a small child jumping into a kayak. They’re calm and surreal, and they’re exactly what sets this apart from the adventure film norm.

“It’s the perfect synergy between my passion for adventure and creativity,” said Glasenapp.

The more he explained the hows and whys of his artistic and athletic spirit, the more he brought up the people most important to him. His immediate family, his extended family, paddlers Jonathan Satz, Shiloh Robinson and Justin Derkash, his girlfriend (and the film’s associate producer), April Wackerman ” Glasenapp was bowled over in appreciation of them all. Their support matters in so much of what he does, he said.

He called himself lucky more than once.

“He always was a sensitive soul,” said Sheri Tonozzi, Glasenapp’s mom.

She also half-joked that she wished he’d find “another hobby.”

She commented on one scene in the film where Glasenapp apologizes to her and “all moms everywhere” before shooting off a waterfall.

“I hate that part,” she said.

Yet she sounded overwhelmingly proud of him, too.

“It gives me chills,” she said, of the movie. “It’s really exciting. You just feel like you’re there.”

Terry, Glasenapp’s dad, a local college teacher and filmmaker, recounted a trip he’d taken with his son to the West Coast in the early ’90s. They were searching for “beautiful things” then, he said. As Terry filmed, Glasenapp took stills of the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, the San Juan Islands. Within a week or so, Glasenapp had shot almost five rolls of images ” nearly all that his dad had allotted for the weeks of traveling. It was then Terry Glasenapp realized his son had stumbled onto something that mattered to him.

“It’s so important that we let that voice come out of us ” whatever it is,” said the elder Glasenapp. “I think Adrian has done that with making pictures and making films.”

Glasenapp’s brother, Cisco Tharp, 23, recalled living with him for a year in Fort Collins. Sometimes Tharp would go to sleep to and wake up to “Liquid’s” soundtrack, as it was being tweaked again and again. He sounded just as inspired by his brother’s sense of aesthetic as he did by his desire to apply it.

“He really invested his heart and soul,” Tharp said.

He called Glasenapp’s filming of light “joyous.”

There were plenty more words from a few of the film’s paddling crew. Dan Woolley, 31, Leif Embertson, 28, and Carter Eash, 33, all spoke fondly of their friend.

Woolley remembered traveling with Glasenapp and their “rag tag” bunch to film in Mexico. He seemed amazed that Glasenapp had captured all their free, adventurous energy.

“That side of him, that desire to create is embodied in that (film),” he said. “He wanted to see how far he could take it.”

Embertson, who was also responsible for securing the helmet camera, said that the piece is a reminder that “we all have to do the things that kind of feed your soul.”

When asked if seeing the movie inspires him to get out on the river more, Eash responded quickly.

“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” he said. “It reminds me why I do it.”

Though filming wrapped months ago, there’s still work to be done with “Liquid.”

Glasenapp needs to go through red tape to get the movie out on DVD, and there’s no doubt that he will continue to use the film at river benefits and such.

Yet, that daily sculpting of the movie is forever finished.

More than happy or sad about that fact, he seemed in awe.

“I was so inside this film,” he said, looking back.

He promised a future of more “adventure” and “experimenting” ” and he had no idea what that might look like.

He didn’t sound at all worried, though. Now, he must know just how much he can create.


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