Five Films That Redefine the Term ‘Outdoorsy’

Of all the outdoor brands making short films today, no one does it better than YETI. Their track record for finding interesting subjects to profile—and then hiring the best filmmakers in the business to bring their stories to life—is unmatched. But the other reason their films are so good? Their knack for telling a wide range of stories that, like our five favorite films below, touch on universal themes (family, nature) while also celebrating all the awesome and diverse ways the outdoors can inspire us all.

Bottom Feeders

Bradley Beesley was a 13-year-old kid from the suburbs of Oklahoma City when he met his first noodlers: fisherman who catch catfish with their bare hands. He was at a family reunion when a few distant cousins pulled up in a truck, covered in bloody scrapes, carrying monster-size catfish. Beesley’s mind, as they say, was blown. Years later, as a film school graduate, Beesley, now an occasional noodler himself, made several documentaries about handfishing, including this one, Bottom Feeders, about two rival Oklahoma noodling champions. “I know a few handfishermen who are adrenaline junkies, but that’s not why I do it,” Beesley says. “Although getting bit by a catfish makes me giddy like nothing else, I love the anticipation and the journey of walking the creeks and rivers. We always see something new—giant beavers, bald eagles, amazing bluffs. It’s always something special.”

Try and Love

If you watch only one film about raising bulls, make it this one, about stock contractor H.D. Page, who started out working with his father, Dillon, raising cattle on their family’s ranch, D&H Cattle Company, in Oklahoma. H.D. became obsessed with bulls—he even rode the notorious Bodacious. On his ranch, he treats his bulls like world-class athletes. “H.D. is a cowboy, pure and simple,” says the film’s director, Jeff Bednarz. “He spends every day out on his land, producing feed and making sure the grazing areas are healthy. There’s a ton of hard work that goes into it before he even takes the bulls into the arena for training. If that doesn’t make you an outdoorsman, I’m not sure what does.”

My Mom Vala

The star of this short film is nine-year-old narrator Mathilda Magdalena, who, with her mother, Valgerður “Vala” Árnadóttir, runs a fishing and hunting lodge in Greenland, but lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. While the cinematography of the two islands is truly stunning, it’s the heartfelt ode to a parent’s relationship with her child, and the scenes of Mathilda learning independence and the importance of hard work from her mom, that make it such a powerful film. “Vala is a magnet of a personality. The minute you meet her, you’re like, ‘Let’s hang out,’” says the film’s director, RC Cone. “She demonstrates that you can be a successful, young, well-traveled human being while also being a good mother. She shows you can do it all.”

The Malloy Brothers

If you’ve heard of the three Malloy brothers—Chris, Keith, Dan—it’s likely because you’ve seen them surfing in far-flung places like Antarctica or Norway in their award-winning films (180° South, Come Hell or High Water). But, as you’ll see in this film, directed by their friend Kellen Keene, these guys aren’t your standard surfers. The California-based brothers grew up on a working ranch and farm—they woke before dawn to move cattle or tend crops, then head for the waves. They grew up outside—riding rodeo, pig hunting, fishing—and now they’re teaching their own kids the same way of life. “It was always about being outside,” says Dan Malloy. “It was always about finding a way to get yourself into a little bit of trouble. In my family, that was looked at as a good thing.”

The Devils

The Devils River, in a remote pocket of southwest Texas, is as much a character in this film as the fishermen who travel there. “As a fly-fisherman in Texas, if you start digging around for local intel, eventually you’ll stumble upon the Devils River, says the film’s director, Paul Pryor, “and once you see a picture of it, you can’t get it out of your head.” Pryor’s film tells the stories of fly-fishing guide Alvin Dedeaux and tournament fisher Miles Burghoff. While they’re ostensibly out on the water to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, they’re really out there to find themselves. “I hope this film inspires people to push themselves into the wilderness, because I think you learn more about yourself, and it definitely strengthens your relationship with those remote places,” adds Pryor. “The more we love a place, the more likely we’ll want to protect it.”

Outside Magazine: All

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