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Capturing Art and the Outdoors: Q&A with Bedrock Co-Founder Jim Aikman

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

Bedrock Film Works is a full-service video production company offering end-to-end creative and production services with offices in Portland and Bend, Oregon. With an emphasis on storytelling and a clear passion for the outdoors, Bedrock’s specialty is creating top quality content in challenging terrain and adverse conditions all over the world.

Their latest brand content, the short film “Like a River”, brought together outdoor brands Rumpl and Osprey and artist/outdoor enthusiast Jeremy Collins for a unique partnership at the intersection of utility, art, and environmentalism. The film debuted in conjunction with the release of a limited-edition Osprey Daylite day pack and Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket featuring artwork by Collins, who drew inspiration from the rivers and canyons of the Colorado Plateau. In a purpose-driven component of the project, the brands also pledged ten thousand dollars to American Rivers, an organization that protects and defends the nation’s rivers and natural clean water.

Brand Storytelling caught up with Bedrock Film Works Creative Director and Co-Founder Jim Aikman to learn more about what went into working with another creative and multiple brands to execute on the vision for “Like a River”:

Thanks for chatting with me, Jim. How did you connect with Jeremy and the brands to begin with?

I’ve known Jeremy for twelve years through the climbing film community, but our initial bond was formed through our relationships with climber Jonny Copp. Jonny was on an expedition in China in 2009 with Micah Dash and filmmaker Wade Johnson (my colleague), and all three perished in a tragic avalanche. I worked on two films about the accident, “Point of No Return” and “The Kyrgyzstan Project”, and Jeremy created his film, “Drawn”, which was about his relationship with Jonny. It was a loss that continues to connect a lot of people in our community. I first met Jeremy when he was touring with “Drawn”, and we’ve wanted to work together ever since. This was our first chance, and considering it was 10+ years in the making, my business partner Graham Zimmerman and I jumped at the chance! As far as Osprey and Rumpl, we’ve done some work with Osprey in the past, but it was mainly Jeremy’s artistic collaboration with both brands that spawned “Like a River”. He created an abstract painting featured on products from both brands (backpacks and blankets), which is sort of what the film is about.

What was the original vision for the content? How and why did that vision change?

Originally, Jeremy approached Graham and I with a much more ambitious idea - to climb in and out of all three canyons that are featured in the film: Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon and Black Canyon. This would coincide with his creation of the work of art that combines these three disparate locations in an abstract space. It would have been a very cool concept but went beyond the scope/budget. The vision changed when Jeremy really wanted to capture his creative process in a different way - he’s done a lot of video content where he’s in the field, climbing something and then painting it. I’d always wanted to bring Jeremy’s artistic process into a studio, where we could really hone in on the different elements with complete control of the camera and environment. It was a big leap of faith for Rumpl and Osprey, both outdoor brands, to sponsor a film shot in a dimly lit interior, but they ultimately understood the vision and signed off. It was a difficult concept to describe until it was actually executed but, in the end, everyone was really happy with the outcome. I’m personally super grateful that they gave us that trust.

Visual Artist Jeremy Collins
Visual Artist Jeremy Collins

How involved were the brands in pre-production of the piece? Did that change or remain the same through production and post-production?

Both Rumpl and Osprey have a keen sense of their brand strategy, which is especially apparent when you look at the scope of their collaboration. This film wasn’t born in a vacuum - it was created to support the release of a new product line that features Jeremy’s art. So it’s important to remember that that is the prime directive - the product - and it all needed to dovetail. Considering how poetic and personal this film is, crafting something that checked those boxes but also supported the product line was a thin line to tip toe, but I hope it will be successful on all fronts.

Each disparate element of this project came together to form a cohesive and poetic piece. Did you have the vision for each of those pieces, like music, camera movement, and style? How did they come into play?

This was where things got really exciting for me. A lot of stars aligned to make this film, and I was able to scratch a creative itch that had been on my mind for a long time. The opportunity to work with Jeremy was the first victory and explore this concept of attaching locations that are hundreds of miles apart on a single canvas. Then came the opportunity to stage this in a studio setting, where we could really bring in a lot of camera tricks and controlled lighting. We worked with Portland-based Motorized Precision and Sean Brown, who is on the cutting edge of robotic camera arms, to shoot Jeremy’s process in a totally new and really stunning way. We were able to program crazy camera movements with their tech, swinging a RED camera literally dozens of feet around Jeremy, mount macro lenses to get incredibly stable close ups, moving time lapses, and very evocative slow motion. Combining this interior setting with time lapses of the actual canyon locations allowed us to include an outdoor element while still staying tied to the art. On the narrative side, Jeremy wrote the fantastic voiceover script that we built the visuals around. Of course, things changed over the course of the project, but we wound up pretty close to the original vision. The final step was the music: I’d been wanting to use this track from the Portland Cello Project for years, and I worked with the composer, Gideon Freudmann, to make it possible. In the end, it was a project that couldn’t have happened without the enthusiasm and generous support of multiple parties that all believed in the concept. It’s rare to get all those pieces in one project.

What was the key, from your point of view, to working closely and well with the brands involved, especially on a project like this one with fluid concepts and changes over the course of production?

Great question. I always like to do a lot of work on paper before we get any cameras out, so we went through various iterations of written treatments and outlines for the clients to green light. It was a challenge to convey this concept on paper, but I think we managed to sell it based on the strength of those written documents. I’m a firm believer that unless something makes sense in plain language, you’re setting yourself for a big challenge in production and post by lacking that road map and clarity of vision. Of course, finding the right scope to match the brand’s resources was a big consideration, and the film we created was still ambitious based on the budget. So, we couldn’t have done it without the group effort. Ultimately, it was the sponsor’s faith in Jeremy and Bedrock’s resume that gave everyone the confidence to move forward.

Rumpl X Osprey Limited Edition Pack and Blanket featuring art by Jeremy Collins
Rumpl X Osprey Limited Edition Pack and Blanket featuring art by Jeremy Collins

What advice would you give brands who are looking to create similar content to what you've created here?

Interestingly, I started answering this question as advice to filmmakers that want to make this kind of content, and then re-read the question. It’s hard for me to give advice to brands, since they come to the table with a well-defined marketing strategy and the onus is on us to fit the content into that strategy. But I’m just super grateful that these brands gave us the chance to make this film, and I’d love to see more work like this coming from brands across all industries. I guess my advice would be, if a filmmaker has a vision and proven chops, let ‘er rip!

Where can people see and learn more about Bedrock Film Works?

Thanks for asking! Our website,, has a lot of our past work and a place to sign up for our newsletter, which we send out twice a year. You can also explore Graham ( and my personal websites ( Beyond that, you can find our work online, National Geographic, DirectTV, film festivals and more!


About Jim Aikman

Jim Aikman is an award-winning filmmaker, cinematographer, writer and commercial director living in Portland, Oregon. He works on feature and short documentaries, podcasts, web series, branded content and more for dozens of clients and distributors around the world, with a fierce work ethic and unique creative vision. He specializes in character driven stories about adventure, natural history, science and the triumph of the human spirit, creating content for brands like National Geographic, AT&T and REI. As a Director, Jim brings his experience from all stages of production to craft meaningful stories that need to be told.


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