When your profession and your passions overlap, your personal travels can be a catalyst for some fascinating client projects. For an outdoor and lifestyle photographer like Denver-based Kody Kohlman, his latest destination unexpectedly led to a campaign for a major beer brand.
Kody had planned to bike the Colorado Trail with some friends and one of these happened to be Taylor Boyd, the brand manager for New Belgium’s Fat Tire. The two had collaborated in the past and when Kody mentioned the trip, Taylor asked if he wanted to shoot it for Fat Tire’s 30th anniversary.
Fat Tire’s own story originated on two wheels when co-founder Jeff Lebesch pedaled his way through Europe and sampled beer at each stop. Partly inspired by this journey, Taylor and Kody teamed up to film Colorado’s mountain-biking trail as a way to pay homage to the brand’s image. Their efforts resulted in C-Team, a 13-minute documentary film that follows the group’s two-week “bike-packing” adventure from Denver to Durango — and each brew sipped along the way.
While the physicality of their odyssey is no laughing matter, the intro to the film isn’t intended to be taken too seriously. Kody felt that the funny prelude could set a much lighter tone for the film, one that would establish it as a candid snapshot of this experience among friends.
Biking 550 miles through the Rockies is hard work, but we were all there because we wanted to be.
Throughout the film, Kody sought to blend the physically demanding experience of a multi-day mountain biking trip with the lighthearted moments that happen on and off the trail. The group making the trip consisted of mostly amateur bike-packers so they ran into cuts, scrapes, and illness along the way. Kody himself experienced heat exhaustion and food poisoning during the trip, which only made him strive harder to balance the strains of the trip with the smiles of each subject.
Injuries were naturally occurring with this many people on this long of a trip, so figuring out how to make it feel cohesive throughout was a bit of a challenge.
Even though the trip was tiring, Kody ensured that the video reflected the fun adventure and beautiful landscape they encountered. For Kody, most documentaries around outdoor adventures are “no-nonsense” films and tend to veer toward showing extreme conditions or focus heavily on the physical endurance of the subject. He knew from the onset that C-Team needed to represent a group of companions who brought each other joy during an arduous journey.
These outdoor endeavors need to be respected and taken seriously, but at the end of the day, it’s less about what you’re doing and more about getting outside.
Kody filmed his friends eating burritos, facing down cows, and laughing as they leaped over bumps on the path. At some campsites, the team would ride up to the finish line where a fellow biker waited with a cold can of Fat Tire in hand. The group would end their day around the campfire, sharing stories of their experiences on the trail, cleaning their wounds, and preparing for the next day’s ride.
We wanted someone who hasn’t ever been on a mountain bike to be able to watch this film all the way through and say “That looks like a lot of fun. I want to do something like that.”
When editing the film Kody utilized narration, music, and handheld videography to showcase the brand’s casual country-western tone. In the film, aerial shots give a sense of place by showing the vast landscape of the trail, and candid clips of Kody walking alongside friends as the team pushed their bikes along the rocky terrain maintain a playful tone.
This was the longest piece I’ve ever edited myself, and trying to condense 2 weeks into 10 minutes isn’t an easy task. Working through the footage to see how pieces fit together helped me better understand how to film footage with purpose.
After the team returns to civilization, Kody captures them drinking their final brew at a local Durango bar, celebrating a journey that took them 75,000ft in the sky. In showing a group of friends committed to experiencing nature on this raw and rugged trail, Kody’s film has inspired others to similarly saddle up and test their sense of adventure.
I’ve had a couple of people tell me they bought mountain bikes because of this film and a few others tell me they were planning their first bike packing trips after watching it. That was exactly what our goal was with this film.
Director, Editor: Kody Kohlman
Cinematographer: Kody Kohlman, Josh Uhl
Client: New Belgium Fat Tire
Producer: Taylor Boyd
Sound Mixer: Josh Uhl
Narration: Jarrett Griffis
Still Photography: Evan Green
Aerial Footage: Len Neceffer
Timelapses: Benton Inscoe