These 3 Films Are Changing The Way We See Outdoor Adventure Content

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By Jordan Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

We tend to think of branded content and entertainment as a new venture in the overlapping space between advertising and film/television in pursuit of non-interruptive advertising. However, this isn’t exactly the case. Outdoor adventure and lifestyle brands have been producing branded content for over two decades, turning their cameras on individuals that embody the lifestyle sought after by consumers of their products. But in that time, an oversaturation of content that only depicts one type of outdoor enthusiast in a one-dimensional way has made the category feel stale.

In an effort to refresh the space, outdoor adventure brands are taking great strides to pursue stories that break the old mold, turning the lens on those whose stories are less familiar and digging deeper to tell stories with more dimension, depth, and meaning. Here are three examples of brand-produced stories that are shaking up the way we think about what it means to watch outdoor adventure content:

Learning to Drown

Brand: The North Face

Director: Ben Knight

It’s not often that a snowboarding film penetrates further than the coat of fresh powder being carved by an excellent rider. In Learning to Drown, director Ben Knight takes us much deeper into the life and experiences of elite snowboarder Jess Kimura, who, at the peak of her professional snowboarding career, suffered the tragic loss of her partner Mark Dickson in a dirt bike accident. Intercut between gripping testimonials and incredible outdoor adventure footage, Kimura shares her story and how she was able to turn the overwhelming power of wanting to quit in the most final way possible into the drive that keeps her pushing forward.

The Way of the Wild Card

Brand: Red Bull 

Directors: Jonny Madderson & Jono Stevens

While the audience typically knows the stakes going into any film focused on running a race, the story of Nepalese trail runner Mira Rai raises those stakes to an entirely new level. Mira’s running story is both literal and metaphorical, chasing a dream she’d never even conceived as a reality while growing up in a Nepali Village. But after discovering running whilst serving as a child soldier in the Nepalese Maoist army, she took off running and never looked back, becoming one of the best modern trail runners and a symbol of hope for the country of Nepal.

Who Is a Runner: Prolyfyck Run Crew

Brand: Brooks Running

Directors: Faith Briggs and Tim Kemple

What does a runner look like? This hopeful and inspiring film challenges the notions of who we think of as a runner by introducing the viewer to Prolyfyck Run Crew, a community group made up of the citizens of Charlottesville, Virginia. Three days a week, this diverse group runs through the predominantly Black neighborhoods of Charlottesville not just for fitness, but as an act of pride, ownership, and love for the place they call home. Prolyfyck Run Crew demonstrates that coming together around a common goal can create a safe space in which to grow a new type of loving community.  


Films like these are breaking away from the long-standing norm of typifying one type of individual as a participant in outdoor and adventure sports. As such, people who never saw themselves represented in content like this now have an opportunity to connect with one another on social media and in the comment sections of publicly posted videos. The brands making an effort to tell fresh outdoor adventure stories are recognizing now more than ever that the outdoors are for everyone, and that by telling everyone’s stories, they can foster greater affinity for engaging with the outdoors and spark the growth and expansion of the outdoor enthusiast community.

Each of these films will be screened at Brand Storytelling 2022 in Park City, UT from January 19-22. View the complete list of Official Selections and learn more about virtual attendance at brandstorytelling.tv/events



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