Interview: John Eldredge on “A Story Worth Living”

Posted on May 9, 2016 at 3:32 pm

John Eldredge, the author of books about faith like Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus. In his new film, “A Story Worth Living” Eldredge and his three sons, together with two life-long friends,take on Colorado backcountry on motorcycles to create a documentary about life, meaning and the longing to be part of an adventure bigger than one’s self.

“A Story Worth Living” is filled with spectacular scenery and inspiring conversations. It premieres in select U.S. Cinemas nationwide on May 19 through Fathom Events. In an interview Eldredge spoke about the way challenging adventures expand the spirit by helping us understand our own stories.

Tell me a little bit about the logistics of filming — it looked like there was at least one GoPro strapped to a rider but how many other cameras were there and who was operating them?

We had 17 cameras operating in all, what with the drone, three HD cameras operated by cameramen, and various go pros on the bikes and hemet cams on the riders.

Was everyone wearing microphones?

Sound is a tough one during adventure filming. We don’t always have the chance to mic everyone they way we would in a static setting. We used a combination of wireless mics, booms, and sometimes had to grab sound from gopros and helmet cams.

Did knowing it would be recorded affect your interactions and conversations?

What made this possible, what made it truly authentic and real – totally unscripted – was that this group of guys know each other really well, we’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors together, and these are the kinds of conversations we have off-screen. That was a big part of our hope – to demonstrate that men can have meaningful conversations and not just bs about the football game.

What is the most important thing to look for in selecting companions for a journey like this one?

Ask yourself, “Would this person drive me to homicide if I was trapped in a car with them on a 17 hour drive?” Compatibility is huge. Now – everybody is quirky, everybody is a little odd. You just want to make sure that you love most of their quirkiness, that they make you want to laugh more than they make you want to scream.

What did you learn in your bike training that was particularly useful?

Confidence is everything. Like with skiing – you have to be willing to commit your weight downhill; if you lean back and fight it you will fall. We learned confidence on these big bikes by dropping them a lot, by skidding out, by hanging our bodies off them at every odd angle, so that we could fully commit when time came to cross a river or climb boulders on these powerful machines.

You spoke of the impulse for adventure — what defines an adventure? Is it risk? Is it the search for something new? For context?

d) all of the above. A big point we make in the film is that in our day of extreme sports experts, we’ve lost touch with reality, with what adventure is. you don’t have to catch a 30 foot wave in Tahiti; you don’t have to ride your motorcycle around the world, or even ride at all. Adventure is something that takes you beyond your own world, your comfort zone, something filled with risk, yes, but also with joy, with beauty. It’s a leap into the unknown with just enough ability so that it doesnt scare the bejesus out of you. That could be travel, could be starting a company, could be getting married.

How is the story of this journey different for the participants at different moments in their lives?

I love the age span on this trip, from 22-63. For the younger guys, the physical adventure wasn’t the big test so much as the honesty in conversation, the thrill of being with older men who have a lot more miles. But for Dan (63) and me (55) we took huge risks to keep up with the younger guys on the dangerous terrain. So the trip had challenges for everyone.

Were there any moments of disagreement or conflict?

Of course. There is actually an incredible amount of pressure added to a trip like this when you throw film-making into the mix. You’ve got so much pressure to make the shot, repeat sequences, get to the next stopping point, then be totally honest on camera. Most of the tension took place around the back side of the trip – the timing and logistics and the need to push ourselves 14 hours a day.

How can we be sure the story we create for ourselves is the right one?

The is the $60,000 question. Many factors are involved. First off – is the story you are living all about you? If so, it’s a small story. Is it governed by past hurts and fears? That , too, will trap you in small things – or push you to prove yourself in a story that frankly isn’t even true to you. Identity is a big factor – Most of us are living out scripts handed to us by other people. Bottom line, what is the motivating power? Is it love? Is it goodness? The desire for justice, or mercy, or kindness? Big stories call us up out of ourselves into something much larger than personal happiness.

How did seeing one member of your group get injured affect the others?

It was terribly sobering. My accident was especially hard on my sons – they really feared something worse was going to happen. We were amateur riders in some extreme altitudes, and we could feel every day the fear trying to get in that someone was going to get really hurt. So we prayed a lot!

What is the next adventure?

Several things. Bow hunting for caribou in the arctic – a film about where does your food come from and what does ethical eating look like? The young bucks are training for a half iron man, and making a film about that.

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