Last week I was honoured to be present for the world premiere of Into The Empty Quarter at the Royal Geographical Society.
Al Humphreys’ and Leon McCarron’s film about their unsupported trek across the Omani desert is one I approached with trepidation. Even though they were friends of mine, how interesting could it be to watch them dragging a cart across a desert for 52 minutes?
It turned out that two self-taught filmmakers with no commercial backing had managed to pool their talents and resources and conjure storylines, characters, questions, resolutions, comedy, and even a couple of uncomfortably sad moments out of a trip which, when all was said and done, really did involve little but dragging a cart through the desert for a month. To do this required real, hard-earned skill. I was impressed.
At the same time as conveying all of this, the film reveals themes that parallel all that I evangelise about adventure. You don’t need to be a wizened explorer to do something only wizened explorers do. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure it’s possible. And it especially doesn’t matter if things don’t go quite to plan.
It was the capturing of these concepts, and the exposé of the mental journey that lies beneath the outwardly physical one, that most resonated with me. And that’s notwithstanding the technical elements of the film; camerawork, editing and post-production lifting the story of these two hapless English blokes and their crappy homemade cart, along with their doubts and fears and strange encounters, to a level of slickness I’ve rarely seen before from a indie adventure documentary.
Into The Empty Quarter has set the bar high, and will no doubt inspire both adventure filmmakers and armchair travel junkies alike.
Download the film or order the DVD at IntoTheEmptyQuarter.com.