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By Dan Rudy 

Kayakers and film team make stop through Wrangell


Submitted Photo

Luca Lezzi and Xander Fehsenfeld paddle up the east side of Vancouver Island during their 1,200 mile journey between Washington and Skagway.

A pair of friends decided to undertake a unique adventure, traveling the 1,200 miles from Washington to Alaska by kayak.

Luca Lezzi and Xander Fehsenfeld departed from their hometown of Bainbridge Island, Wash., in May. En route to their final destination in Skagway, they arrived in Wrangell on July 16, after journeying for 65 days.

Lezzi, a junior at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, said he has harbored a fascination with kayaking the Inside Passage since high school.

"I feel like I need some big challenge in my life right now," he explained in a media release. "I feel like I'm doing what everyone else is doing, and I don't want to do what everyone else is doing. I want to really push myself in a different way."

Following the duo on their journey is a film crew working for Vignette Creative, a production company based in the Seattle area. Brian Spielman and Cameron Zohoori arrived beforehand to scout locations and make arrangements for the travelers.

"It's been a great time," explained Spielman, a film school graduate who has been coordinating the project. While in town, Spielman and Zohoori were shuttled by Alaska Vistas to get their shots of the two kayakers.

"We just absolutely love it," he said.

Zohoori is an editor handling postproduction work on the film. Back in Seattle, lead cinematographer Gary Matoso and graphic designer Dave Joyce round out the Vignette team.

The two explained that this film is a passion project, which may eventually develop into a documentary or could something else entirely. Like the kayakers' journey, the video is still a work in progress.

"We are very much interested in the intersection between technology and storytelling," said Spielman.

That tale began for Vignette Creative after spending three days with Fehsenfeld and Lezzi at their journey's start. The team at first wanted to film the kayakers as a test run for a new drone and camera. They put together a teaser trailer from the footage, which can be found online at https://vimeo.com/129128239.

Intrigued by the idea, Zohoori was sent along on a second trip to get additional footage. After a four-day stint, the team decided to pursue the full story. The footage obtained in Wrangell, Juneau and other locations in Southeast are that next step in the process.

Juggling the film with other projects, Spielman said at the latest a finished cut could be completed by next May.

"Our optimistic vision is by January 2016," he said.

Vignette is currently campaigning online at IndieGogo.com for $15,000 to cover the project's costs. Dubbed "Passage: A Documentary Project," the effort has so far met around half of its goal. Money raised goes to cover transportation, some camping supplies and equipment.

After spending a couple of days in Wrangell, Lezzi set off on July 18 to finish the journey's final two weeks. After taking some damage to his kayak, Fehsenfeld planned to remain in town until Wednesday.


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