An independent film project is hiking through towns along the Appalachian Trail and will be screening its beauty tonight at the Lyric.
“Beauty Beneath the Dirt” follows three college-aged hikers — a lawyer, an Ivy-league graduate and a “city chick” — on their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
The Trail is roughly 2,180 miles and passes through 14 states. According to the Appalachian Trail conservancy, Virginia is home to the most miles, around 550. Katherine and Brandon Imp, along with Emily Ginger began their hike in March of 2010 and finished about five months later in August.
The Appalachian Trail snakes through towns along the mountains, which is where the first screenings of “Beauty Beneath the Dirt” are being held.
Katherine Imp filmed and directed the movie. She had to convince the cast, her brother and friend, for months before they agreed to participate. Imp said there are many environmental movies and stories of people who completed the trail, but nothing is like what they have produced.
“We’re all city kids,” Imp said. “We looked like misfits out there, but this was an opportunity to show a story from a different aspect.
“We want people who are thinking about it to say ‘You know what, if they can do it, we can, and I’m going to make it happen.'"
Imp also said watching the documentary will give the audience one of two initiatives.
“(The film) is either going to have people deciding they want to quit their jobs and go hike it tomorrow, or they will never want to set foot on it,” she said.
She said the target market of the film is for people in their 20's, since that was their age during the hike. Imp also said “Beauty Beneath the Dirt” is screened to the niche of outdoor adventure people. However, those who may not fall into these categories would still be able to understand why people love being outside.
Imp said the whole purpose of the film was to allow people to open their minds and even change their opinion on how they view something. Besides young people and outdoor enthusiasts, “Beauty” can touch everyone.
“We cut it into a story to show how five months on the Appalachian Trail strengthens or destroys relationships,” she said.
Imp said the story is effective, because they do not only talk about when they are having a bad day, they show it.
“It would not do justice to our hike to just say when we had a bad day,” she said. “It’s because we’re willing to be raw and uninhibited is why we have a story to tell.”
Imp worked at Outward Bound, an organization that leads trips for at-risk youth in Florida. The philosophy for these adventures is what inspired her to test herself on the Trail.
“If you put people outdoors, they're bound to learn something about themselves,” she said. “I truly believe that.”
Imp said that a good movie has drama, romance and comic relief, which are all found in her film. The hikers carried a tripod and camera on the hike to capture their physical and emotional journeys.
While the quality of the shots is often praised, Imp said people rarely believe that they filmed everything themselves.
“I think that is a compliment, but I wanted my film credit too,” she said. “The reason it looks so professional is because we used a professional camera and took time to frame shots and get all three of us in one shot.”
Another way the hikers preserved honesty in the film was refusing to watch footage during the hike.
“You will see why we had so many communication problems — we said everything to the camera during confessionals,” Imp said. “When you’re actually out there, you question if you’re capturing anything at all.
“We have a lot of footage of me screaming at the camera, but I had a dream and vision. I just thought it was worth it.”
Besides relationship changes between friends and family, Imp said the film is also a “thank you” to the gracious people who were so hospitable to them.