"Escaping Time" is a documentary adventure film by Rhett Cutrell, starring Matthew Podobinski as he sets off on an adventure of a lifetime. Matt Podobinski is an international fishing guide and full time adventurer of planet Earth. His vagabond lifestyle leads him to Northeast India where he meets up with local fishing enthusiasts. Their passion for the sport takes them on a journey to the remote regions of Arunachal Pradesh, a restricted area of immensely diverse tribal cultures and untapped wilderness exploration.
Their mission: catch and release large specimens of India's most sought after sport fish... the mahseer. However, like in all adventures, the perfect trip is never the one you set out for. Ironically enough, the planet’s most overpopulated country and the birthplace of religion has been secretly nurturing a perfect region for adventure... and time has forgotten all about it.
"Escaping Time" is sure to capture the wanderlust in all of us and motivate even the most dedicated couch surfers to go as far into the wilderness as possible.
MEET THE TEAM
Growing up in Chicago, not many would think that Matt Podobinski would become a world-traveled fishing and rafting guide. Having guided trips in ten countries on five continents, he has logged thousands of river miles - from the top of the world in northern Alaska to the bottom in Patagonia. He speaks three languages, and is comfortable in both bustling cities and isolated tribal villages. He is a real-life, modern-day Indiana Jones.
Aaron Laloo is an avid fisherman and outdoor enthusiast born in Shillong. When he isn't reeling in the big ones, he dedicates his time to running Campfire Trails - an organization that helps get kids out of the busy cities and into the outdoors by hosting camping trips and adventure sports. With the organization he founded, his love for the outdoors spreads far beyond taking adventures with close acquaintances.
Another native to Northeastern India, Pepe (Daniel) Massar is not only the man behind the wheel for the brutal forty-plus hour drives on “Escaping Time,” he also drives professionally for tourism in the state of Meghalaya. Born in Shillong, Pepe is dedicated to showing people a good time and his fun personality is a wonderful addition to the team of fishing enthusiasts.
Takap has an interesting story you don’t hear every day: policeman turned fishing guide. Born in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, Takap and his warrior spirit hold the much needed local knowledge on how and where to adventure in his home state. Dipping his feet into the guiding business, Takap is the absolute, undisputed, go-to guy if you want to take your fishing game to the next level in Arunachal.
Abhijeet is no stranger to adventure. Even though he lives on the complete opposite side of India in Pune, he was more than happy to escape his manufacturing business in the big city for awhile and go fishing with friends in the jungle. His adventurous spirit also pertains to his love for riding motorcycles. Abhijeet often sets off on huge, cross country trips on his bike to raise awareness and money for societal issues. He loves giving back.
Rhett Cutrell is the Director of Photography on “Escaping Time.” He is primarily a wildlife and outdoor adventure cinematographer, bringing Hollywood quality productions to the most remote regions on the planet. He has worked on projects for syndicated television, independent documentaries, and destination tourism promotion in thirteen countries on six different continents for over fifteen years.
Lover of nature, cultures, and social topics, Pamela Velazquez is a producer on “Escaping Time” and filmmaker in Mexico, dedicated to exposing controversial subject matters in her films. She has written and directed several short films that are having much success and being praised in film festivals around the world. Currently, she is working on her feature film, “A Media Luz”.
Food was not a problem whatsoever. Luckily we had Mala, the elephant, to help carry the rations we needed. Rice, fruit, veggies, oatmeal, and even a cage full of live chickens (later butchered for meals).
Most major villages and cities along the road system have electricity. You might have to MacGyver some wires together with band-aids on a fusebox, but charging can be done. Between locations we would take some time to refill both the rations and the batteries, but we really needed to be thrifty on camera power consumption by only rolling on the good stuff.
From the city of Shillong, it was forty hours by car to our first stop in Menchukha. Then it was another eighteen hours to the beginning of the second location. After loading up the elephant, we trekked for seven hours until dark and made base camp, venturing out from there in search of fish. In total, it was about 16,600 miles round trip from Chicago.
Did anyone get sick or injured during the making of “Escaping Time”?
Thankfully, no one got hurt on the trip, but Aaron Laloo caught a cold virus on day one (you can hear it in some of his dialogue). Rhett, the camera operator/producer, got Giardiasis (aka: Beaver Feaver) in Alaska on a shoot prior to this one and had to deal with the consequences for half the trip.
Out of all the places in the world, why go to India?
The people of India are a big part of what makes visiting and exploring so special. The friends we made in the Northeast were reason enough to come visit, but once they started explaining some of the trips they wanted to do it was a no-brainer. We had to go. The people are amazing!
What’s so special about Arunachal Pradesh?
The short answer is… everything is special about Arunachal. It is probably the most diverse place on the planet - from the Tawang Monastery and the Tibetan people in the north, from the Adi tribes that live in inhospitable terrain and are known for being fierce warriors, to the Nyishi people that ornament their hats with a hornbill's beak. Ecologically, it is just as diverse - from sharp, snowcapped mountains, to hot, sweaty, bug-filled jungles, and everything in between. If you are the type who likes to maximize your adventures, Arunachal Pradesh is the place for you.
What kind of wildlife did you encounter on your trip?
We saw quite a bit of wildlife. Water buffalo, mithun buffalo, hoolock gibbons monkey, rhesus macaque monkey, river otters, python, viper, Muntjac deer, nilgai, and a green tree frog, as well as several species of spiders and tarantulas, to name a few. There was so much out there that we didn’t see: red pandas, three species of leopards, Himalayan black bear, takin, and even tigers.
What were some of the dangers out there?
We never felt we were in danger at any point of the trip. There was the minor possibility of conflicts with militant insurgent groups, but precautions were taken in case that happened. Other concerns included getting bit by a poisonous critters, sketchy rope bridge crossings, and quicksand... real life quicksand! It does exist and took us by surprise a couple of times.
What was it like riding an elephant?
Riding an elephant is not that glamorous and extremely uncomfortable. They have a rock hard backbone and very stiff hairs. Make sure you wear pants if you’re planning to ride an elephant, or else the little hairs will destroy the skin on your legs!
What was different about making “Escaping Time” than other projects you worked on?
One thing that was different on this production was the use of multiple frame rates on the camera. To really drive home this idea of “Escaping Time” we used different flavors of fast time lapses to show the hustle and bustle of New Delhi and urban areas, then contrasted that with extreme slow motion, 240 frames per second for emphasizing the serenity of the jungles; and everything in between. We really wanted to disorientate the viewers concept of time through frame rates and non-linear storytelling to help put them in our shoes and escape time with us.
What was the biggest challenge of making “Escaping Time”?
By far the biggest challenge of making “Escaping Time” was not what to shoot, it was what NOT to shoot! Around every bend in the river and in every village we visited had some unique, special thing we wanted to cover. Everything had WOW factor that would have undoubtedly helped the film. However, being on limited card space, limited camera batteries, and limited wireless microphone batteries, we couldn’t just roll anytime something cool was happening. Sticking to the main story line and not getting off on ancillary side stories, as entertaining as they might have been, was essential. As a filmmaker, it is so painful to let things come and go without proper coverage, but sometimes that’s what you have to do.