The Power of a Kayak and a Camera
At Horizon, we’re storytellers. So when we get the chance to apply our passion for a good story to a subject that can change lives, it’s a great day.
This past Veterans Day was exactly that kind of day. We debuted our documentary film Beyond Paddling, about the transformative power of community and sport to bring hope to wounded war veterans.
Our film, which premiered at the Cary Theatre, followed 4 Iraq war vets who returned to Raleigh to discover that the traumas of violence and death stalked the daily rhythm of civilian life, making it impossible for them to fully leave Iraq – or to truly come home.
They found both solace – and catharsis - in the clarifying waters of North Carolina’s Nantahala River. The 4 vets joined a program called Team River Runner (TRR), which pairs volunteer kayakers with wounded vets, to teach them paddling sports. Learning to conquer a whitewater river with little more than a paddle and grit helped these vets heal the psychological wounds of war, and find renewed confidence in themselves.
Not only did we get a chance to share our film with 160 veterans, clients and community members, we all had the opportunity to learn important information about the challenges wounded veterans face when they come home. Duke University’s Dr. Jason Nieuwsma shared his deep experience and insights into the psychological toll of warfare, allowing the audience to get a better understanding of what life after deployment can look like for the young men and women who serve America in uniform.
Horizon’s chief sound designer, Brian McPherson, first brought the Team River Runner story to our attention; he’s an expert paddler and TRR volunteer. The film came to life through the creative vision and tireless work of Taka Yamato (head of post-production) and Tim Finkbiner (head of production). Beyond Paddling is part of our pro bono “Horizon Originals” initiative, in which our team members are encouraged to find meaningful video projects that Horizon Productions can support and produce as a gift to our community. Donations collected at the premiere went to the TRR program, and the film will be used to help other vets connect with TRR and all that it has to offer.
At Horizon, we see amazing stories happening in our community every day, and it’s an honor to document the ones that give us all a better appreciation for our home and our neighbors. Look for more Horizon Originals projects in the future!