Beth Mairs said she is “annoyed” by the way women are portrayed in adventure films.
She said it wasn’t long ago that women didn’t even appear in them. When roles eventually became available to women, they were either small parts or stereotypical personifications.
Discontent with what was available on the market, Mairs decided to do something about it.
After studying at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Mairs and partner Betty Ann McPherson began BAM North Productions to help set those stereotypes straight.
The company’s first production, Does This Canoe Make Me Look Fat?, will be screened at Rainbow Cinemas on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. It was produced by a crew of Greater Sudbury women, including Mairs, McPherson, Mackenzie Marshall and Taryn Green.
The feature-length film follows five women through a five-day canoe trip on the Chiniguchi River system, located east of Sudbury, in July 2010.
The southern Ontario girls in the film are diverse in age, ethnicity, life experiences and social backgrounds. Some of them are “sporty” types, but they are all everyday women, Mairs explained. Prior to filming, none of the lead characters had met before.
Unlike most adventure films, or “adventure porn” as Mairs called it, Does This Canoe Make Me Look Fat? focused on normal women who enjoy the great outdoors, rather than focusing on extreme stunts and exotic locations.
Mairs said she wanted to showcase the nature of an all-women trip, and provide audiences with a snapshot of the things she observed during her 20-year career as a trip leader at Wild Women Expeditions — an all-women outdoor adventure company operating across Canada.
“Women tend to have a more co-operative view of nature,” she said. “This is what we set out to capture.”
Women tend to have a more co-operative view of nature. This is what we set out to capture.
director, Does This Canoe Make Me Look Fat?
The documentary includes personal interviews with each of the women, as well as footage from the trip itself.
Since she is new to the film industry, Mairs said she wasn’t completely sure what to capture, and what to use in the final product.
Mairs said she tried to avoid having the documentary look like a reality TV show, but still wanted to capture the mood of the trip and the personality of each woman.
The film was screened in Toronto last November to a crowd consisting of mostly outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
Mairs said she’s excited to show it to a more diverse crowd in Sudbury, with hopes of gaining valuable feedback on how to improve the documentary.
She said she plans to submit the final product to film festivals in the coming months.
After the documentary is completed, Mairs said BAM North plans to move ahead with other outdoor adventure films.
For more information about the Sudbury screening, contact Mairs at 705-866-1260 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Mairs said the response has been positive so far, and suggests those interested in attending the screening call ahead to reserve tickets.