Production company

A fifth-year management major named Garrett Martin created VentureLife Films, a documentary production company that aims to film expeditions through the natural world, such as Patagonia, to promote a healthy environment.  

Venturing on an unbeaten path, Garrett Martin isn’t camera-shy when it comes to adventure — like being the first to create a thru-hike documentary chronicling a trail in Patagonia, much of which has been undiscovered.

Martin, a fifth-year management major, started his production company, VentureLife Films, to create short and feature-length documentaries centered around travel and adventure that promote a healthy environment and connected community. His next expedition will have him hiking the Greater Patagonian Trail in Chile from end-to-end, also known as a thru-hike, with a four-person crew that hails from different corners of the world.

“I just finished hitchhiking across Canada and made a documentary about it,” Martin said. “I got back and was thinking of different ideas to pursue as far as another documentary. I was looking up random trips and adventures, and I came across a top 10 hikes list.” 

Not owned by the government, the trail is being created by passionate German hiker Jan Dudeck. Since 2013, Dudeck and his girlfriend have been hiking this trail and forming longitude and latitude coordinates that can be inputted into a GPS system. As of now, it has become the longest continual trail in South America at about 2,200 kilometers.

“It’s going to be around four months to do the 18 sections, but it's potentially going to keep going with 9 more sections,” Martin said. “Our mission for this film is to document this region like it’s never been seen before.” 

Through VentureLife’s second production, Martin hopes to raise awareness for conservation of the Greater Patagonian area and the wildlife that call it home. The Patagonia region is currently subject to many threats such as desertification, overgrazing and outside industries looking to exploit the land. Martin plans to donate a significant portion of the film’s proceeds to Conservacion Patagonica, an organization that works to protect and restore the region’s environment and wildlife.

“Our expedition will conclude at Patagonia National Park,” Martin said. “This national park is almost done and we are hoping we can raise enough money to help complete it and help make it one of the icons of South America.” 

Martin’s one-man production business leaves him facing the many challenges of tackling multiple jobs. 

“For the last film, I was the producer, director, cinematographer, editor, pretty much everything,” Martin said. “It’s the difficulties of having your own startup company — you basically have to fill all the roles. The group of people I got together is awesome and we’re really good friends, but at the same time, they’re technically working for me, so I have to manage them.”

With intentions of gathering a diverse crew, Martin brought on Robert Caruana, a hiker who he met in Canada while filming his last documentary. Caruana recruited a friend from Germany, Aljoscha Adam, who had another friend in mind. As small of a world as it is, it turned out that the fourth crew member, Robyn Mclellan, had briefly met Martin in Canada as well.

While each member of the crew brings a different experience to the group, the passion for this project seems to be shared equally among them.

“As soon as I heard about the project, I was crazy about it,” Adam said. “It combines every aspect of my life that I am passionate about, with the purpose to not just create a film, but also raise awareness about preserving the beautiful nature of Patagonia.” 

Not only is the trip an opportunity for Martin and his fellow travelers, but it has the potential to have a more global impact. Although Martin’s production company is just starting up, his next documentary has the ability to shed light on an unknown wonder of the world.

“We have such a rare opportunity here to share the story of how one of the most beautiful, varied and culturally unique parts of the world came to be,” Caruana said. “We get to join this worldwide effort to protect this area from damaging industrial and commercial development.Opportunities to document a story like this and give a voice to issues that desperately need one don't come along everyday.”

Through discovering his passion for travel, adventure and film, Martin has also discovered a career path he hopes to follow. With only a few more months left of college, his excitement for what lies ahead sometimes overpowers his focus on school. 

Balance is key for Martin when running a production company in college. However, his dedication to his company can sometimes be overpowering, and he frequently finds himself steering most of his attention in that direction.

“It’s fairly difficult to concentrate on school when you have this much bigger thing happening right now,” Martin said. “I definitely want to do a lot of charity work with my company and I want this to be my career, for sure.”

Contact Yasmine Maggio at maggioym@dukes.jmu.edu.