Coming soon to a river near youWhen Ryan Jeanes reached U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 last year, there was only mystery ahead.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
When Ryan Jeanes reached U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 last year, there was only mystery ahead.
"I'm letting the universe kind of show me the way to go," he said in July 2009 interview with the R-E during a brief stop on the banks of the lock and dam.
He had begun an attempt to paddle the length of the Mississippi River on an inflatable kayak as part of a two-man filmmaking quest: To document the experience of navigating the river and the people they met along the way.
The journey concluded in October 2009, when Jeanes and filmmaking partner Phillip Hullquist reached the Gulf of Mexico.
"It was absolutely perfect," Jeanes said of reaching the destination.
But the end of the 105-day trek wasn't the final destination. The duo still had a movie to complete.
Jeanes and Hullquist spent the next several months editing down 55 hours of video shot during the trip into a 90-minute documentary they are now screening in some of the river towns they visited.
That includes a screening of the film, "The River is Life," at 8:30 p.m. today at the Harbor Bar in Hager City.
The screening will be the fourth stop on what Jeanes expects to be a 38-city tour that began this week in Grand Rapids, Minn.
Tonight's free screening at the Harbor will be staged outdoors on equipment provided by Jeanes and Hullquist. Jeanes said the outdoor setting is key in setting the theme for the movie.
"I wanted people to feel the river, to see the river, so when they see the movie, they experience all the good things about it," he said.
He said that while the film has a "magical and expansive" feel to it, viewers should not expect a nature documentary.
"That's not what we set out to do."
Jeanes said viewers will instead enjoy meeting the people documented "in the actual towns that grew up on the river."
That includes a scene on Lake Pepin, where a Frontenac man helped tow him to shore after spending four hours paddling directly into headwinds. The next day, the man towed Jeanes out to the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River basin, where navigation would be easier.
So far, reaction to the film has been positive, Jeanes said.
"People say, 'Wow, that's awesome,'" he said. "It strikes some sort of chord with people with the call of adventure."
Jeanes admitted the film isn't likely to turn them into Hollywood moguls, but said it has been making them "enough money to pay for gas, at least."