Krystle Wright: The Nomadic Filmmaker Behind “Where the Wild Things Play”

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“I just want to get as many people stoked as I can.”

Last week you may have noticed “Where the Wild Things Play,” a four-minute homage to women ripping it up in wild places, blowing up your Facebook news feed. The video has since gone viral, acquiring some 2 million views.

Krystle Wright, from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, directed and produced the short sponsored by Outdoor Research. It was co‑produced by Aidan Haley.

Though Wright’s most known as a photographer, she picked up shooting video three years ago during a two-month kayaking expedition through Mongolia and Russia. The trip offered her the opportunity to collaborate with editor Skip Armstrong, creating the film Nobody’s River, which won “Spirit of Adventure” at 5Point Film Festival in 2014.

Her images grace National Geographic, Red Bulletin and Outside, and this month she’s on the cover of Experience Life Magazine.

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Wright’s adventure photography work has taken her to Baffin Island to photograph 23 BASE jumpers during her month-long stay. She also visited Alaska to explore the Saint Elias Mountains by skis, and the Atlantic Ocean to freedive with Sperm whales. “I love expeditions,” she says with a smile.

She knocked out her front teeth in a mountain biking accident in China.

With her adventures have also come near misses and crashes. In 2008, she knocked out her front teeth in a mountain biking accident in China, resulting in seven crowns. In 2010, she fell into a shallow crevasse in the Canadian Arctic but managed to crawl out. In 2011, in the northern Karakoram Range, she slammed into boulders during a tandem paraglider takeoff and blacked out. In early 2016, she broke her fibula in a skiing accident in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, side country. “I’ve been a professional photographer for 10 years now,” says Wright. “Whoa. I’m old.”

Wright’s first film, Nobody’s River (2014), is a documentary about her, Amber Valenti, Sabra Purdy and Becca Dennis kayaking the Amur River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the world. There, deep in East Asia, they traveled 2,700 miles through pristine wilderness and barren wasteland.

What makes or breaks a trip for Wright? The people on it. “I've been in places where from the outside it looks amazing but with the wrong group, it can be hell. I ask myself, ‘am I having fun?’ If I'm not, I need to seriously consider why I’m there.”

That’s where “Where the Wild Things Play” comes in. The film begins with three dumbfounded dudes at an empty bar, asking where the women are and hopelessly reloading their Tinder apps. Meanwhile, the women are crushing it out in the wild, with big, confident smiles abound, not trolling for guys at a watering hole.

For the next three minutes, the audience is treated to scenes of women gracefully BASE jumping and wingsuit flying, kayaking, highlining, ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain biking and backcountry skiing. Charging the film is a pounding bass-and-trumpet soundtrack by the 90s rock band CAKE. Giant backcountry slalom turns and muddy singletrack riding accompanies John McCrea’s powerful vocals: “I want a girl whose eyes burn like cigarettes…. She is fast, thorough and sharp as a tack.”

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We met up with Wright to hear about the film right before it debuted at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado, on April 20 to 23. Over chai smoothies at The Spot bouldering gym in Boulder, Colorado, sitting on steel bar stools surrounded by chalk-covered bodies, she told us.

“I firmly believe, with all my stubbornness, that I would not wait around for things to happen."

The idea came to her in 2016 as she was nursing her broken ankle from the aforementioned ski accident in Jackson Hole. “My mind drifted to that repeating conversation of 'Where are the ladies? And why aren't there more ladies in adventure films or big mountain skiing or shredding mountain bikes?'

“I firmly believe, with all my stubbornness, that I would not wait around for things to happen. Whether it was a dream client knocking on my door or wishing to see someone create content I desired. [So] I ventured out on a few road trips and thought 'fuck it, why not?' and created ‘Where The Wild Things Play.’”

Her goal was to “celebrate the ladies who are ripping it in the backcountry, deep in the forests and in the ocean,” she says. “I know a shitload of badass ladies and if we celebrate them, then it shows others that it's possible.”

The 28 athletes featured in "Where the Wild Things Play" include Jenny Abegg, Jessica Baker, Emilie Drinkwater, Heather Larsen and Heather Weidner, to name a few. It was the first film that she both shot and edited.

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One of the reasons Wright is able to capture such great footage is that the open highway is her home and she can travel anywhere at short notice. She doesn’t have a residence. If she did, she would only be able to spend about 10 days there a year. Instead, her stuff—skis, climbing gear, random everythings, plus camera gear—is crammed into her 4Runner. Additional belongings are stored at various friends’ places in the States, in a shipping container in Australia and at her grandparent’s place, also in Australia.

We caught up with Wright again just this week (via Wi-Fi) as she was traveling from Italy to Salzburg by train to meet with Red Bull before continuing onto Belgium and England for a mixture of personal travels and work. “As an artist, I believe it's all about learning and evolving,” she says. “I look for projects that challenge me and I’m lucky to able bring these passion projects to the big brands.”

Watch "Where the Wild Things Play" here:

Canon Australia, KEEN, F-Stop, AquaTech, Goal Zero, Wylder and Big Agnes sponsor Wright. To see more of her work, follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Vimeo.

Photo: Krystle Wright poses for a portrait in front of her image at the Red Bull Illume unveiling in Vancouver, Canada on January 31, 2014 | Photo: Mason Mashon/Red Bull Content Pool

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