INTERVIEW – Steve Fisher on Dreamline Project
Kayak Session has partnered with Steve Fisher and his team in producing a kayak instructional film / magazine combo. After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, filming has been underway in multiple locations for some time, but as people have started asking us about the project’s progress, we’ve become curious ourselves. After seeing the Dreamline website go live last week, we decided to drop Steve a line to find out where things are at.
Ok Dude, what’s the deal with your Dreamline movie, it seems to be running pretty late?
Yes, we’re running late, but still forging ahead. To start with, I think it was a bit ambitious to think we’d be done this summer with filming in Zambia and in the US, then editing. Also, my wife pointed out to me pretty early on that we hadn’t included any female instructors, which I agreed we needed. That added some time and expense to shooting. But the biggest thing that I had overlooked was that with this being a much bigger job than anticipated, I would have to maintain cashflow personally and in my business to get through the time needed to finish it. That has meant that I’ve had to take other film projects which, while they’ve carried us through and also provided additional paddling footage to the pile, they’ve slowed me down a bit.
But you raised over $80 000 in the Kickstarter campaign, that seems like a lot for a kayak movie?
Indeed! The reception to this idea was amazing. After deducting $7500 in Kickstarter fees, and $25K in rewards fulfillment costs (drybags, t-shirts, shipping etc.) we were left with around $50K for production, which was awesome. I spent about $30K on wages for the team and production help and the other $20k on flights, accoms, logistics and food. I also raised another $10K outside the Kickstarter and I’ve invested around $20K of my own money, which I plan to get back once the final vid is on sale. The good news with me being invested (in the red) is that I must see it through to the end, and the final product must be good enough for people to buy, so that I can earn some money too. Some have questioned the amount I spend on wages, but I always pay my crew the best I possibly can – they deserve it, I need them working hard on my program, and kayak industry sponsors certainly aren’t picking up the bill. In the end it’s all worth it because the final product is the best it can be, and my team is rooting for my success on the backend – it’s a win win recipe.
Ok cool, so when will the vid be ready?
Benny Mar and I are headed to Zambia again in the next couple weeks, we’ll get through Christmas and then I’ll be hoping to finish up within a couple months. I need everything out the door by early spring so that I can do an early spring tour of coaching clinics. We have however mailed out a bunch of the rewards in the past few days – over 100 watershed dry bags, dozens of t-shirts etc. We wanted to get something in people’s hands, and since we’re now offering those items in our web store we needed to make sure that we sent the rewards first.
Yeah I was about to ask… another trip to Zambia this year and offering additional spots on the trip?
Yes, we had three people sign up for this year’s coaching trip during the Kickstarter, but that’s a bit small to make it financially viable, so we’ve offered additional spots via the new website. We’ve now got three more on the team and have a couple spots left. So cool! I always wanted to show folks the Zambezi this way so I’m looking forward to it, and I think the paddlers will have a ball, it’s still my favorite river!
On the website, it looks like you plan to offer more one and two day coaching sessions, but they’re marked as sold out. Are they really sold out?
We had an amazing response to these coaching trips during the Kickstarter – it’s how we raised the $80K, and once again we have to finish fulfilling those before we can book more. But they’re productive for the student, fun to do, and money wise it’s a way for myself and the team to continue earning a living through paddling, so we’re gonna give it a try through the site next year.
Oh, so more coaching next year? Is that what you’re focusing on now?
Yes. I believe that top paddlers should complete the lifecycle of their paddling career, rather than just peace-out once they’re done going big. In my case this cycle includes an advocacy and mentoring phase, each paddler can determine theirs, for example EJ’s includes building a kayak brand that sells 40% of it’s WW kayaks to first time buyers. So yes, while filmmaking is my longterm career path, I’ll be spending next year doing plenty of coaching as well as setting up the rest of our “ninjas” with coaching as and when they would like. This provides a smooth transition from my identity as a “pro-kayaker” and it also feels good to contribute something to the sport that’s given me so much.
So it seems like you’re planning more than just releasing the DVD / mag combo, what else can we expect from the Dreamline Project?
Well, since we’ll be drawing in an audience with instructional content, we may as well also offer a few products for sale in addition to the kayak trips etc. Making it a bit of a business will help keep things going, and we’ll in turn be able to offer more resources within a bit of an instructional hub. We’ll see… I’m not hanging my hopes and dreams on this project, but if we’re able to to generate a following and a little income, we’ll keep offering more. Either way, instruction will remain the purpose of the project, and how it grows will depend on the response we get from the site and the film once it’s complete.
As always, good to chat Steve, thanks for the update.
You can learn more about the project and follow progress at www.dreamline.ninja