Director Seth Epstein of Stardust recently shot a moving and inspirational brand film for Ahnu, the Bay Area providers of originally engineered performance shoes. The three-minute short film entitled “Walk New Ground” follows ultra-endurance hiker Trevor Thomas on one of his challenging, long-distance hikes – revealing his unique story along the way.
“We engaged Stardust for one simple reason, their unique ability to capture a true and authentic moment and translate it into inspiring digital content,” said Anders Bergstrom, marketing manager for Deckers, Ahnu’s parent company, and co-creative director on the film. “The Ahnu brand had been working with Trevor Thomas for some time, but had not yet captured the emotional essence and impact that an incredible person like Trevor can have on a brand and its core business. Seth, Dex and their team [at Stardust] saw the potential and brought out what is true and inspiring in Trevor’s story – all the while delivering on the Ahnu brand’s promise to ‘walk new ground.’”
According to Epstein, the idea for the film came from a two-hour phone conversation and pre-interview he had with the film’s subject, Thomas. “His story was amazing on it’s own, so I asked him every question you could imagine,” Epstein explained. “It was during that phone call, that I realized how I wanted to approach the story. I knew where I wanted to go, and needed to figure out how to do it as efficiently as possible.”
Utilizing lean filmmaking techniques, Epstein shot the film on DSLR on-location in Northern California’s Redwoods, not far from Ahnu’s headquarters, which was important to the company’s co-founders. “We used a lot of in-camera film techniques, and played with light and focus as much as we could, in order to create the film’s story, which is a metaphor. Every filmic technique is an ingredient in the visual aesthetic of the film, and that was our intention going into the shoot.”
For Stardust executive producer and company partner Dexton Deboree, this Ahnu brand film represents a new direction the company is taking in terms of storytelling. “By focusing on Trevor’s story, Seth was able to create a film that truly celebrates the Ahnu brand and everything it represents as a conscious, sustainable company, which puts its success back into the community by sponsoring someone like Trevor. For us at Stardust, it was an opportunity to further express our new voice by creatively investing in a project with a lot of heart, which is important to Seth and I as creatives, but also as business people.”
After production was wrapped, the short film was edited by Neil Meiklejohn at Rock Paper Scissors with color completed by Company 3’s Siggy Ferstl. Stardust contributed motion graphics to the film, which according to Dexton, required a “tender hand.” The film was unveiled at a trade show event earlier this year. It is posted to the Ahnu web site, and will be used for branding, marketing and social media initiatives this year.