72 Hours: Portland

I’m Alive is a series about traveling to 14 cities to film a two-and-a-half minute YouTube video. We spent 72 hours in each city. We started out in Portland, with no plan whatsoever.

After having spent several weeks negotiating the finer details of the 14-city adventure trip with our new friends at Car2Go, Nic (my friend and cinematographer who helped create this madness) and I were meeting up to head to the airport to kick off our trip. We were so incredibly busy with other projects and the general pressures of getting things done before leaving on a two month trip that we never met up to discuss our ideas… not even once. There we were, boarding a plane to city 1 of 14 with nothing at all prepared.

Shortly after arriving in Portland, we were sitting at a late night spot and had that, “Shit, we’re here!” moment. Smirk. We decided to have a pretty large brainstorming session the next morning to lay the groundwork for the trip.

Fortunately, Portland is a really cool city with a lot of unique establishments to garner inspiration in. We stopped in some biscuit shop to map it all out: shot lists, iconic places, hiking, overlooks, parks, miscellaneous activities, Nic eating a doughnut in each city. The problem was that we realized our time in Portland was already running out. Our flight was a day and a half away, and we had filmed nothing up to that point — this would continue to be the pattern for every city we encountered. We quickly realized the urgency to make something happen. Surprisingly enough, being forced to come up with fun ideas on the spot is actually quite difficult. Hmm, having the experience of a lifetime isn’t easy… Who would’ve thought?

Well, the pressure worked. We came up with a decent list of Portland activities all in a matter of hours:

We didn’t have an activities budget, so we called up each and every company we were interested in participating with and told them our story. Some vendors laughed when we talked to them about film trade, often bragging about major TV networks that were onsite just before us. Fortunately, there were plenty of friendly vendors that loved the mission we were on, the potential for the video, and welcomed us with open arms.

Things started to get far more interesting as we got warmed up. From singing “Take On Me” with Wanz (from Macklemore’s Thrift Shop) to going live on the iconic KEXP radio to orchestrating a 100+ person flashmob dance, Seattle really took things up a notch.

Read the next story: 72 Hours: Seattle