What we've been up to, and what's on the horizon.

Behind the Scenes with Les Voyageurs

We round the corner, charging into fall. Here's what we've been busy working on behind the scenes of NW Documentary's next original production!

Hang On, It's Going to Get Rough!

For most people, watching a film means watching a finished, perfectly polished piece of art. Hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and unquantifiable amounts of talent have poured into the seamless flickering images on the silver screen. But making a documentary is like making anything complicated: the middle of the process is anything but pretty. In fact, the first edit of a film is called a "rough cut," and rough is exactly fitting.

Most editors work for hours locked safely in dark edit bays, consulting only with their most trusted collaborators, like the music composers and colorists. One of the most terrifying thoughts imaginable would be to show anyone the early drafts.

However, the Voyageurs experience is about taking risks. It takes a heap of gumption to open the tangled edit process up to the public, but that's exactly what we're about to do. Our friends at Pro Photo have offered their event space to host the very very very very very first look at the film-in-progress.

You'll see scenes that may or may not be in the final film, characters that might get cut, narration that will be rewritten, and a story structure that will inevitably shift shape. We do this because, as uncomfortable and awkward as the process is for us, it does make the final film ultimately that much better.

Our great sponosor New Belgium beer will provide delicious beer.

Meet Ben Canales, Timelapse Wizard

Ben Canales, award-winning photographer, and member of the Uncage the Soul production team that joined us on the river last fall reflects on the challenges and the landscapes that inspired the hours he spent not sleeping, but instead capturing gorgeous timelapse footage alongside the Green & Colorado rivers. 

Tasked to shoot timelapse on our Green and Colorado River trip was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging new experience. With limited resources of time to download media cards and opportunities to charge batteries, I had to be selective of the moments to shoot a multi-hour and 20-60 sized gigabyte timelapse sequence. It was important to learn the natural forecasting signs in the weather patterns and gauge the potential "worth" of shooting a particular moment and location. Would these afternoon clouds hold and provide a reflection for sunset colors? If the river is oriented 187 degrees South, what was the chance the Moon would rise in the canyon? And if so, when in the night might it clear the steep canyon walls, and where? Would it be better to timelapse this camp location at sunset or sunrise? Should I setup down by the river or take the time (and risk missing the sunset) to hike up on the higher rocks for a view up high?

Although these questions were important and there were plenty more to fret over--ultimately--what I remember most is the joy of getting lost in the river's world. By that, I mean... it's wonderful to be so connected to the immediate things that you can sincerely forget what day in the week it is. My world became sunrises and sunsets, star rotational directions and moon paths, cloud patterns and which direction would the shadows dance on the canyon walls. Many nights I was brewing a pot of coffee to get ready to go shoot night timelapses while everyone else was settling to sleep. I loved the novelty of quietly tiptoeing through camp to setup my gear at 2am to the sounds of snoring. Even exhausted and slightly cranky, there's a unique contentment to have stayed up all night shooting stars and into the sunset and then be able to welcome my friends to a new day as they groggily came out of their tents. I look back on these memories with immense fondness. 

- Ben Canales

Host your very own Rough Cut Screening!

Want to spend an evening with us?

In an effort to garner as much feedback as possible, we're hoping to host many rough cut screenings.
Invite your friends or colleagues to watch early cuts of the film and be instrumental in helping shape the story. Screenings can be held in small living rooms, conference rooms, even in backyards by the fire if the weather holds out! If you've got space and interest, let us know!

Contact us at, or call our office at 503.227.8688.

What's Next?

More editing, preparing for fundraisers, and spreading the good word about Les Voyageurs. 

You can join the creative process by:

  • Volunteer your talents to be part of the team: PR and marketing specialists, graphic design artists, web developers, event planners, and fundraisers--you can help.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to help complete the film.
  • Host a rough cut screening.
Please contact us if you can help. Merci beaucoup!
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