Interview with Adventure Filmmaker, Joey Schusler

Field Notes Interview #92: Joey Schusler, Filmmaker and Photographer

We spoke with filmmaker, Joey Schusler, about his underlying passion for capturing outdoor adventure films and how he has found that taking risks is a good thing.


Capturing the unknown outdoors.

Adventure filmmaking means more than just pressing record while out in the woods. This genre of filmmaking demands a vast amount of preparation, pre-production, and an unspoken ability to foresee what the unknown can bring. 

Joey Schusler films bridge together the rugged wilderness with a cohesive story with a sheen sophistication. Schusler's recent film, Flashes of the Altai, is a shining example of this. Not only does the film present the thrill of an unknown adventure, but showcases the trip in a way that is accessible to the most city-inclined. We had an opportunity to pick Joey's brain about how he got into this profession, as well as continues to venture on film expeditions that very few would be willing to brave. Enjoy.

Who are you and what do you do in the world?

Joey Schusler: I am Joey. Somehow, someway, I have found a way to spend my life bouncing from one wild adventure to the next. I am an adventure filmmaker and photographer, specializing in getting to the absolute most off-the-beaten-path locations. It is never easy but always worth it. I love what I do, and every day I find myself excited to do it. 

What inspired you to get into film? More specifically, how did you get into the creating the videos you do today?

JS: It all comes from my love for the wild places I often see from my skis or the seat of a bicycle — always via human powered adventure. These are the things I love most and have made me the person I am today. They are beautiful tools to see the world with. Film allows me to share these stories and experiences, and promote the joys and benefits of a life lived in the mountains and spent traveling fully under your own power. 

What equipment do you prefer to bring with you while filming a trip? What equipment do you find yourself using most often? 

JS: It ranges from light and fast, to heavy and a bit slower, it really depends on the scope of the project. My light setup is a Sony A7rS II, and my heavy set up is a RED Dragon, large tripod, Drone, Ronin, etc… The equipment I bring on a trip all varies based on what we are trying to accomplish both from an adventure standpoint, as well as from a cinematic standpoint. 

Thinking back to when you started filming, what is a lesson or experience you would share with others who want to do what you do?

JS: Take risks. The first few adventure films I made were 100 percent fully self funded. It payed off, and now I am making a good living off doing what I love! It has been a pretty incredible and rewarding process to say the least, and it would not have happened without a risk or two.

How long did it take you to film and edit Huayuash?

JS: Once we figured out where we wanted to go in the Huayhuash mountain range, planning for the trip took a few hours a day for nearly a month. The trip itself also took nearly a month, and then editing took three months of countless nights after work, as well as full weekends in the edit cave. The whole process was an incredible amount of work, but it really paid off in the end. It is a piece I am incredibly proud of and an adventure I will not forget.

What was your favorite experience from your trip to Peru? 

JS: Looking back, we did not really know what we were doing. We have done enough of these adventures now that we can be more dialed and calculated, but it was that sense of pure discovery and finding our way that was so special. The experience as a whole was pretty wild, and we learned a ton from it. The trails we found were incredible, and just getting a grasp on how big and wild the Andes truly are was pretty nuts. And, the fresh squeezed juice is pretty next level down there! 

How do you go about choosing the music for your films? 

JS: Choosing music for films is incredibly hard. It does not get easier the more you do it either. We had heard about Marmoset through some friends and after a day or two spent searching, we found a complete soundtrack. A few more substitutions were made throughout the rest of the editing process, but I am definitely stoked and quite amazed we were able to find such a strong and complete soundtrack on Marmoset's search platform. The crew there is super helpful, and I have had nothing but great experiences using Marmoset in my films. 

Many people would be to frightened to do what you do, how do you find the courage to do what others cannot?

JS: Maybe it is our youthful drive or love for adventure and wild places, but I really do not find it scary or frightening. I do get nervous before a big trip but as long as the planning has been thoughtful, you just take it as it comes and its usually quite enjoyable. I am all about living life to the fullest, and not letting fear inhibit that in any way. Not in an adrenaline junky kind of way but in a no regrets, live life to the fullest kind of way. 

What is coming up next for you? 

JS: It seems as if the adventure is never ending! In the past year, I have worked on projects in The Republic of Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Mongolia, the UK, Norway… and it does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. I leave for another bikepacking trip in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia in a few days, so at the moment all my time and energy has been devoted to making that a reality. Time to tackle the Andes yet again!