Why I Chase | The Arizona Monsoon

Why I Chase | The Arizona Monsoon

A documentary film highlighting my last 5 years of storm chasing in Arizona.  This film takes you on a personal journey of how I went from pilot to storm chaser.  It also highlights the passion I have for Arizona’s landscapes and weather.

Introduction

I am often asked “Why did you make this film?  What inspired you?”  Truth be told, I needed a goal.  I needed something to work hard towards.  In a way I was raising the bar for myself.  I wanted to take my work from where it was comfortable, to a place I had never gone.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills

-John F Kennedy | Moon Speech | September 12th, 1962

I chose to do this film, not because it would be easy, but because it would be hard.  In many ways, the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It challenged everything I knew about filmmaking, and required me to learn a lot along the way.

There were many times that I thought this project was simply not meant to be.  At one point, I had lost my entire project (hard drive crash) and wasn’t sure if I had the emotional strength to start the whole thing over.   Thankfully, I was able to salvage some of what I had in the beginning and slowly piece it back together.  By nature I’m not a quitter; instead, I like to think of myself as someone who finds a way to finish.

In the spring of 2015, I officially decided I wanted to do this project.  I told myself, “you are going to make a 22:30 minute film.  I wanted to take everything I had done the last few years and turn them into a captivating story that featured all my work.

I have produced several time-lapse films and mini-documentaries.  While I’m very proud of them, for some reason I was left feeling like I had a lot more potential.  After toying with the idea, I decided that setting this massive goal was the only way I was going to force myself to do it.

Don’t ever count yourself out.  You’ll never known how good you are unless you try. Dream the impossible and go out and make it happen.  I walked on the moon.  What can’t you do?

– Eugene Cernan | Nasa Astronaut | From the film “The Last Man on the Moon”

The Evolving Story

When looking back on this project, it’s hard to believe that I took hundreds of time lapses, photographs, and videos to piece together a story.  In the beginning, the story was constantly evolving.   However, after many hours of planning, I decided that the story I wanted to tell was a personal story.  The story would involve bringing the last five years of my life as a storm chaser and put them into a visually appealing and well-scripted documentary.  In many ways, the film represents the passion I have for Arizona’s magnificent landscapes and incredible weather.

Capturing the beauty of Arizona’s landscapes and weather is my passion.  As a filmmaker, my goal was to capture both the familiar and unfamiliar parts of Arizona.  Arizona is far from just a hot and dry desert.  Instead, it is a vivid and colorful canvas that comes to life especially when there is weather.  Its beauty is limitless, and it causes me to realize that as a filmmaker that “Light is My Only Boundary.” ™

Facts and Figures

  • Cameras: Nikon D610, Nikon D7000, Sony A6000, GoPro Hero 3+ Black
  • Lenses: Nikon 20mm F4, Nikon 50mm F1.4, Nikon 85mm F2.0, Sony 16 – 500mm F3.5 /F5.6
  • Miles: Over 50,000 miles driven
  • Time Lapses: Over 100,000 individual images were used to create the time lapses you see in this film.
  • Video: 50+ hours of video was shot and edited down for this film.
  • Places:  99.9 percent of this film was filmed in Arizona.  This included amazing places such as; Grand Canyon National Park, The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, Sunset Crater National Monument, Horse Shoe Bend, Vermillion Cliffs, Superstition Mountain Wilderness, Four Peaks Wilderness Area, Tonto National Forest, Mogollon Rim, Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Yuma, Globe, Payson, Safford, Willcox, Benson, Maricopa, and many more.
  • Screen shot of Facebook trending items on August, 15th, 2015

    Facebook Trending items on August 15th, 2015

    Historical Tucson Microburst Time Lapse: 

    • #1 Trending item on Facebook (August 15th, 2016).
    • Over 2 million combined
      views on Facebook and Vimeo
    • Shared on popular sites all over the world including; The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, Capital Weather Gang, Daily Mail, PetalPixel, Gizmodo, and so much more.
    • Captured textbook example of a wet microburst.
    • Watch Tucson Wet Microburst | August 8th, 2015

Arizona Weather Time Lapse and Stock Video Gallery

My Favorite Arizona Weather Images (2011 – 2016)

Additional Resources

  • What is the Monsoon? If you’d like to learn more about the North American monsoon, please visit this awesome webpage hosted by the Tucson National Weather service. What is the Monsoon?
  • Track the Monsoon:  You can track the North American monsoon here: Track the Monsoon

Credits

  • God: I have to thank the big man upstairs. He’s the main reason anything is possible and the main reason why I was able to complete my massive goal.  Not only did he provide me direction,  he also provided me peace.  In the final production phase of this film, my father was diagnosed with Leukemia.  This was a huge blow.  In many ways I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it.  However, God gave me the peace and strength to finish it while also giving me the strength to encourage my father and be there for him as he began his fight against cancer.
  • My Wife:  Without my wife Monika, I’m not so sure I would have been able to complete this film.  We spent many nights talking about ideas, direction, and changes during the editing phase.   She also sacrificed many hours of time with me (which is limited by her job) so that I could chase, process, and edit this film.  I love you Monika, thank you for being my better half.
  • My Family:  I have an amazing family.  Their encouragement and support has been a huge blessing.  A big shout out to my brother.  As a photographer, he has been able to challenge me through the years and help me see my full potential.
  • My Friends:  I have some of the greatest friends in the world.  Many of you have helped me, & encouraged me. I want to send a special thanks to Jon Stolarski for helping me out with the graphics, and for his feedback during the production stages.  I also want to give a special thanks to Kelly Galarneau, Matt Pace, & Jerrod Harris.  Like Jon, they watched the film several times and provided lots of feedback to help me tweak the film into what it is today.  I also want to thank Larry Reeves for his additional photography and his help with this blog.  Finally I’d like to thank Chris Frailey, Scott Wood, April McClune, Erin Saffelll, Andrea Olsen, Char Dewey, Jeff Beamish, and Tyler Trivitt.  Your feedback (during the screening process) is greatly appreciated!
  • Everyone Else: Thank you for taking the time to watch my film.  I hope you enjoyed it! By the way, feel free to share it!

For more information about licensing please visit License My Work