Filming In The Face Of The Unknown: An Interview with Tim Kemple, Co-Founder of Camp4 Collective


The work of Tim Kemple from Camp4 Collective is a powerful force. With a constant outpouring of some of the most engaging outdoor films around, he not only presents a high watermark of quality, he's constantly raising the bar.

We've had the chance to work with the talented folks at Camp4 on their inspiring films for The North Face. First, they were following and literally scaling mountains alongside rock climbing celebrity Alex Honnold, and now with another round, they just released an epic 10-minute piece on long distance running called Curiosity.

Balancing both a gritty and rustic aesthetic with a sensitive, reflective nature, his films serve as odes to the wild and wonderful nature around us. We chatted with Tim about his life as a filmmaker and what he's learned so far.

M: When did you start filming?

TK: I’ve been a photographer and filmmaker since high school. I didn’t come up with any formal training — I was just looking for a way to share the adventures… road trips really... of my friends who are/were talented action sport athletes.

[...] when I graduated college I sort of went all in and bought an RV off of eBay.  It wasn’t anything fancy, but at that time spending $40k on one ’thing’ was A TON of money. At that point I was fully committed to traveling around the country shooting slide film on my Nikon F100 and shooting video on my trusty GL-2. So I guess that was my first of several ‘make or break moments’ that are pretty synonymous with life as an artist of any type. 

M: What's your favorite moment when working on a film?

TK: We are all pretty lucky to work with talented athletes in beautiful landscapes around the globe. I mean in a lot of ways we have a dream job. But one moment that stands out was while we were documenting Kayakers in Mexico for our short film called ‘Cascada’. Anson Fogel and I were dangling on a zip line with our feet just above the lip of this 70’ waterfall. We sort of looked at each other and were like… this is INSANE!

M: How did Camp4 come into form?

TK: We (Renan Ozturk and I) formed Camp4 in 2010 as a way to collaborate on the expedition type film stories we were telling for brands like The North Face. Anson joined a couple years back and we haven’t had time to look back!

M: What has been your favorite unplanned moment when filmmaking?

TK: Nothing is guaranteed when you are filming on location outdoors… except that nothing ever goes entirely to plan. So yeah we have happy accidents all of the time. In the end we try and put ourselves in the right place, to capture the epic moments of the world around, but much of what we do is never scripted so it takes a bit of luck to get the epic stuff!

The next time you see a great film… close your eyes and just listen - I suspect you’ll find that the sound is more present then you ever imagined.
— Tim Kemple

M: How do you feel music plays a role in film?

TK: Sometimes we will go out and shoot specifically towards a song that we love. Other times we don’t use music at all. In the end sound (including music) is the most overlooked aspect of a film of any length. As people we tend to think that filmmaking is all just pretty pictures, but try this: The next time you see a great film… close your eyes and just listen - I suspect you’ll find that the sound is more present then you ever imagined. 

M: What was your process of finding a soundtrack to Curiosity?

Ha! Curiosity was a whirlwind. We finished shooting on September 1st, flew home and had all of the content loaded on our servers ready to edit on September 3rd… And we delivered the final piece to the client (The North Face) on the 22nd. So in the end the entire doc was cut in two and a half weeks. Our editor on the project did an amazing job and I think its so amazing that a piece like this can be cut in such a short time now. Is it perfect? No… but we knew it wouldn’t be. Its a current event and we wanted to make sure that the story was still fresh in the minds of our audience.

But in general we boarded the edit out into acts and had a mood that we wanted to achieve in the different parts of the film. Music was a key component to evoking the right emotion in different parts of the film.

M: How do you feel music can be misused in film?

TK: Oh man… We are so done with the ‘music video edit’. You know those short web videos that use an entire track from start to finish and simply lay picture on top. We’ve all done it, but yeah that’s a good example of how NOT to use music in my opinion… 

M: What are you most excited about now?

TK: There are lots and lots of things cooking in the oven right now. Honestly if you are an artist, now is your time. Never have there been so many opportunities. Renan just left for a two month expedition to Burma on a project with National Geographic, our other partner Anson is just about to release a personal project called Distance which is really special… and I’m in the middle of directing a series of projects for commercial clients. Its busy at the Camp4 studio for sure — but I think we are doing a great job of balancing personal work and paying the bills with commercial projects.