Behind the Scenes: REI Documentary Highlights SOLO Eyewear Founders

Behind the Scenes: REI Documentary Highlights SOLO Eyewear Founders

Last summer, we received an email from two female filmmakers who had an idea that they wanted to present to me and Dana. We love hearing from fellow lady bosses so we obliged and scheduled a call. Gale and Jessie, the filmmakers, wanted to create a short documentary highlighting the work of female founded companies in the outdoor industry. We loved the concept and in no time, we were signed on to be one of the four companies to be showcased in the REI sponsored documentary. Woo hoo!

Gale and Jessie worked tirelessly for months developing their storyline, coordinating logistics and recruiting help to execute the many moving parts of this project. In the meantime, we were working closely with our non profit partner, RestoringVision, and another non-profit, Flying Samaritans, to coordinate our participation in an eye care clinic in San Quintin, Mexico. We were fortunate that the stars aligned for the filming and clinic to take place at the same time. 

On February 10th, Gale and Jessie drove down to San Diego with their team to start filming. We started the day at the office where Gale and Jessie interviewed us for a few hours. Before we knew it, the sun was setting and we still needed to pack up to head 5 hours south to San Quintin, Mexico to help set up for the eye care clinic in the morning. 

By the late evening, six of us were in the van with all of our gear and headed to Mexico. We were fortunate to have a fellow SOLOist and all around awesome person and photographer, Ravean Aaron, tag along to take photos at the clinic and caravan down with us. If you haven't driven through Baja California in Mexico, I highly recommend it. It's beautiful with rolling hills and lush scenery. 

We arrived in San Quintin late Friday night and at 7am we were having breakfast with the Flying Samaritans team, Margie, Rick and Joe, and RestoringVision staff member, Grecia. We headed to the clinic to set up and start seeing patients. As soon as we arrived, we saw dozens of people waiting to be seen. We got to work. Dana and I assisted with administering preliminary vision tests and dispensing eyeglasses according to each person's prescription. Meanwhile the film crew was capturing incredible moments inside the clinic and outside in the waiting area. It was a great experience and a wonderful day!

We concluded the evening with a group dinner with the Flying Samaritans and RestoringVision volunteers. It was an awesome opportunity to get to know one another. At 5am the next morning, we were already back on the road headed to San Diego.

We arrived in San Diego after lunch time. The film crew wanted to capture a few outdoor scenes of me and Dana. We opted to go paddle boarding. We were directed to paddle for 30 minutes or so and to not get wet because we had to take portraits afterwards. Here's the portrait shot.... 

Things didn't go quite as planned! :) While paddling around the bay, I remember thinking "who falls off a paddle board in calm waters" and shortly after that thought, I realized I was about to run into Dana's paddle board. I put my paddle out to brace the impact and instead pushed her paddle board forward. She never saw it coming. As soon as I saw her arms in the air and her feet stepping left and right, I knew she was going in. I stood there cringing as the film crew captured the whole moment. Dana was a trooper. She got out of the cold water and sat on her paddle board with purple lips. I felt so badly about the incident that the only thing I could think to do is cannonball into the water. I did. When you watch the documentary, you won't see Dana gracefully falling overboard but you will see the cannonball shot. Now, you know the real story behind it. ;)

We ended the day on the beach during sunset and it was a perfect conclusion to the weekend. The film crew loaded up their van and hit the road to capture their next story. 

Being a part of the Venturous Voices documentary was not only an incredible experience, it was an honor. Spending three days with five intelligent, talented women with different backgrounds and perspectives was inspiring. I felt so blessed to be a part of this group.

It took Gale and Jessie two months to edit and complete the documentary. Here it is. Our section is minutes 8:06 to 12:44. 

We would like to thank REI for sponsoring the film as well as Jessie, Gale and their team for giving us a platform and opportunity to share our story and experiences. Here's a link to the REI Blog Post


Jenny Amaraneni
Jenny Amaraneni

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