From surfer to cinematographer – Trevor Hudson

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Concord, Calif. native, Trevor Hudson has a lot on his plate during the Dangerous Waters expedition as director of photography, field producer and camera operator. After a brief conversation we found out a little bit about Trevor and what drives him to do what he does.

Q: What is your background?

A:I was working in the mortgage industry in 2008 and got burned out on it. I went and bought a bunch of video equipment because I had a passion for that. I’ve been a whitewater kayaker and did a lot of videography while enjoying that sport. So I bought equipment and my buddy said “hey, do you want to come out and shoot a reality TV show?” I said yeah, and the next day I was on a flight to Barnegat Light, New Jersey where I got on a swordfishing boat – the Francis Anne, and headed out to the George’s Banks for 17 days. That was my introduction to reality TV and from there it really took off for me. I went down to Dangerous Roads and did Bolivia and Peru with Hugh Worland and then Hugh was nice enough to invite me up to Canada last year with the winter leg up there with him. I’d done some fishing game stuff on National Geographic, some Cupcake Wars stuff for the Food Network, so you know, I’ve gotten quite an extensive and diverse background in a short amount of time in this industry.

Q: So what’s more interesting, going out and doing Deadliest Roads, or Cupcake Wars?

A:  My heart is with the extreme. I’m into extreme sports … I like to kite surf and surf and I used to be a whitewater kayaker, so the Deadliest Roads, the swords, the extreme, this Dangerous Waters expedition here might top all of them. There’s no doubt in my mind. We’re on Sea-Doos travelling 5,000 miles with no support boat. I had support on all of those other trips I did. You know, with Ice Road Truckers I had a support team – there was a chase vehicle …  same thing on Deadliest Roads. We don’t have chase support on this trip and that’s unique and I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be an epic adventure.

Q: Is there a favorite place that you’ve visited that you’d like to go back to from all of these different trips?

A: From the reality side, it was Bolivia. It was a place on the map that would never be on my travel plans. You know, I like to surf and I like to kite surf and those are my biggest passions in life. So, you’ve gotta be near the coast and Bolivia is landlocked. But I would like to go back to Bolivia … the place is cool and the people are neat, so definitely Bolivia. Another place I definitely want to return to is Mexico. I lived down there for four years, led whitewater kayaking trips there and surfed all over Mexico. I haven’t really gone back just for the fear aspect. Yeah, I’d like to go back to Mexico.

Q: Did you have any dreams as a kid that you were going to go out and do something this big? I mean obviously in the mortgage industry you weren’t thinking about going out on a Sea-Doo and cruising the world.

A: No, when I was in mortgage, I was thinking about getting out of that office and out onto my surfboard or kite. My dream as a kid was always to become a professional whitewater kayaker. My dad brought me up to the Rogue River when I was about 11-years-old and six days later I was kayaking Class 3 whitewater and that never turned around. I pushed the limits in that sport, had a great time at it. I’ve ventured off into other sports, but the expedition thing, yeah, is that I just love travelling. I mean, my name Trevor means traveller, and it’s a huge passion for me in my life.

Q: What kind of emotions do you feel leading up to something of this magnitude?

A: The emotions that I’m feeling right now are excitement. These type of things, I feed off of danger, I feed off of the extreme, abnormal activity I guess. Not many people can do this, and I think that I’m one of the people that is not going to have a problem out there.

Q: Do you have family back home who will be sitting waiting on you?

A: Yeah, I’ve got a wife and two kids. It was hard for them the first few years, going off on these crazy trips. But now they’re totally used to it and now my wife has received a tremendous amount of support from these guys’ wives, which she wasn’t expecting and I wasn’t expecting. They reached out to her via Facebook and now she’s talking with the Davis’ parents and the Davis’ wives and I think that’s cool and that’s huge for her, because she has a lot harder time coping with these trips, whereas I’m out there having the time of my life, you know?

Q: So the camaraderie is just as important for her as it is for you?

A: No doubt about it and I feel that if these wives hadn’t reached out to her, it would be even more of a burden for her. Because she knows that this is a trip unlike any of the other ones I’ve done in terms of support. We’re going to a coastline that not many people have travelled.

Q: What are some of the things you look forward to on these sort of journeys? Is it the unknown aspect of it?

A: Definitely the unknown. Like right now I’m just trying to think, what is our first episode going to be called? Don’t post this yet, but I think it’s going to be something like Nome to the Unknown. We’re taking off from Nome and going off into the Unknown. Yeah, I thrive off going out there and another thing is, once I’m out there on the coastline, I know it’s going to be hard to concentrate on the guys and the skis and not look over my shoulder and not be looking for a point break, or deep water, or a big wave zone. Yeah, that will be a challenge for me – keeping my eye on the guys, not the coast.

Q: You aren’t taking a lot of food with you on this expedition. How is this different from the trips you’ve taken in the past?

A: When you’re a whitewater kayaker, you’re taking a very limited amount of food and supplies in dry bags and OtterBox cases. Yeah, I’ve used them before and I love OtterBox cases. They protect essential gear and food is one of those essentials. You’ve got to pack granola bars and stuff in there that you don’t want to get wet or ruined, or squished. So yeah, food’s not my biggest worry, to tell you the truth. These guys from Alaska, I know they’re going to know how to pick berries and grass for us to eat, if it really comes down to it they might go kill a bear, you know? Wes and Charles are pretty amazing guys and from a survival perspective, I’d probably put those two guys right up there with Bear Grylls.

Q: What is the one thing that makes you the most nervous?

A: Um, polar bear. We’re here in Nome and a polar bear landed here a couple of weeks ago from an iceberg and it’s been roaming around. We’re south of where we’re actually planning on crossing. There are probably even more polar bears up there. Yeah, I don’t think we’d have any problem fighting off a grizzly, but a polar bear can be a different story.

Q: It’s funny to think of a grizzly bear being not that big a deal, because they’re 1,000 pounds. Have you ever seen a polar bear before?
A: I’ve never seen one. I’ll tell you a black bear encounter I had when I was 12-years-old. My dad took my two brothers and me up to King’s Canyon and we got some pack mules and went way deep. We were up in a meadow at a lake, with a lake below us and when we woke up in the morning there was a Black Bear cub in my dad’s back pack and we chased it up a tree. So we looked down in the meadow and there was a European couple camping down there and we passed them on the way to our lake and we saw the guy and he’s running and the mother bear was chasing after him and I don’t know what was going through this guy’s head, but he was running and he felt the bear’s presence. He stopped and picked up a huge rock and he slammed it over the momma bear’s head just as it swiped his leg. He had 4 marks on his legs but he knocked the bear out. So the bear was out snoring and you’ve got one cub up our tree and one up their tree. They’d chased the other cub off so that’s what probably pissed off the momma bear. I’ve seen, yeah, a black bear chase a man and the man knock it out with a stone, so I’m hoping we don’t have to see anything like that on this expedition.

Q: You’re going to be riding on the back of Wes’ Sea-Doo?

A: So last year Andrew was the only cameraman and he rode on the back of the Sea-Doo with Wes. This year I’ll be on the back with Wes and Andrew will be on his own Ski, so we can get multiple angles and really get more content than what they got last year.

Q: What are the types of things you’re carrying in your gear pack?

A: I’m going to be an audio and video guy primarily, so I’ve got a Canon 7D that I’ve got on me and a small plethora of 2 lenses and an intervalometer and that’s what I’m going to be using to shoot all of my time lapses and get some HDR time lapses and stuff. We’re also going to use that for getting the hero shots along the way. So I’ll have that in one case. And in another case I’ll have my main video camera, which is an XF105 — a small ENG video camera that will allow me to hook in audio and do some wireless stuff, try to improve the sound on the water, because that was an issue the guys had last year, was how to cope with sound and make it crisp. So those are my two boxes that are full of camera gear.

Besides that, I’m going to have warm gear on underneath my dry suit and I’ll have my camping gear . I’m trying to pack a little bit lighter than these other guys in terms of clothes and that’s just so that I can make up for the weight of my camera gear. I’ve got batteries, Go Pros, compact flash cards, SD cards, I’ve got to carry a tripod and I’ve got all these accessories, so yeah a lot of gear. And on top of that, because compact flash cards are so expensive, you need some other option to manage the media — these are all tricks I learned from Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Roads in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have access to all this media and how we’re going to manage it is bringing along a MacBook Pro and two terabyte G-Drives, so we’ll have 4 Terabytes of G-Drives to manage.

When we get to the beach, at the end of the day, not only do I have to capture those guys getting up onto the beach and set up time lapses, I’ve got to be on the side managing the media that was shot from the day… just so that I have enough room to do the time lapses. Yeah, so we use the OtterBoxes to store the CF Cards and the SD Cards and so when I fill up 2 32GB Compact flash cards in the video camera, I’ll have to pull them out and put them in an OtterBox. Because I know if they go in there dry, they’re going to stay dry. We trust that the OtterBox cases are going to work because we’ve tested them all out. I’ve used them for years. That’s what we’re looking at in terms of the media management.

Q: What does it do for the show this year to have an additional cameraman, especially with as much experience as you have, and an executive producer like Doug?

A: Doug is invaluable. His knowledge is incredible and his creativity … I just don’t know how to explain it. The guy is just unbelievably creative with his mind and his story. Last night I was staying with him and he recited the Death of Sam McGee, a 20 minute long poem that he recited for me from his head. So, having Doug is invaluable and having another camera operator is invaluable because it allows us to catch multiple angles. It also allows me to direct Andrew a little bit and get him to a higher plateau with his cinematography as well.

Q: Why are you uniquely qualified to be on this expedition?

A: I bring a lot to this expedition. I have a lot of expedition experience. I’ve led first descents down multiple rivers in Mexico, so I bring a lot in terms of expedition experience, but that’s not why I’m here. Steven’s the leader… I’m here to bring a creative and cinematic style to the show.

Q: So, why would you choose to do such a thing?

A: I chose to do this for a lot of reasons. I’m out there, in search of that white whale. I heard there’s a white Orca whale out here and I want to find that thing and get it on film. I want to stick our underwater Go Pro dive housing on our pole down under the water and I want to capture that albino killer whale cruising right past us. That and I love to surf, and this is going to give me an opportunity to see coastline I’ve never seen before in my life and that surfers haven’t seen before. I’m expecting to come over there and see some killer point breaks and find a deep water big wave surf spot that’s never been pioneered before. I’d say that’s a side motivation for me being on this expedition.


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