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Updated: Jan 5


2022 and Beyond by Mike Ferrell


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It’s been a while since our last newsletter, 7 months to be exact. A lot can change in a short period of time. We’ve kept our heads down and focused on our work through the global uncertainty and economic downturn of 2022. We want to thank the people in our corners for supporting us the past year. It means more than you could ever know. We’re pretty darn excited to share what we’ve been working on since we last emailed you.

 

We’ve changed.


Over the past several months we’ve been working on a rebrand. Why, you ask? The short answer. We’ve evolved and our mission is to continue evolving. Our new voice and style feels authentic to who we are as a company and humans. We’ve sharpened our focus on what we love to do – make documentary brand films, series, and commercials. We launched a brand new website!

 

We’re officially a collective

Nick and I cannot do this alone, nor do we want to. We’re fired up to introduce our team of journalists, art directors, marketers, writers, and musicians that make up the TopTop collective. What we have in common is the belief that anything is possible with the right team and an open mind.


Kelly Bernard is an art director, designer, and associate director that’s currently residing in Bend, Oregon. Kelly is the linchpin of our rebrand. We’re so thankful for her vision, artistic skills, and hard work to help bring our new brand to life. Kelly also designed Rally for Rangers' social media brand kit.


Dan Olsen is our preferred partner for post and is the Director of Operations for Unscripted Content at Cosmic Pictures in Salt Lake City, UT. Dan is a super-talented colorist and uses his unique ability to blend art and science to make post-production magic.


Jay Siebold is an audio producer and sound engineer based in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in on-location music recordings as well as mixing and sound design for video, podcasts, and audio documentaries. He’s worked on several projects of ours. He’s working on a new album!


Niki Murphy is an editor and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work spans industries like fitness, lifestyle, food, automotive & tech. She directed our three-part series for Harley-Davidson, oh, and when she isn’t making stuff she rides dirt bikes and trains Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu!

 

Thankful to our partners.

We could not do what we do without our partners. A big thank you to the creative directors, producers, athletes, and marketing managers that believe in us and our work. We truly enjoy the entire process of making art and appreciate your trust and collaboration.


Here are a few projects that launched recently:


Stepping Out- Short Brand Film for Salomon TV

Three women set out to ski in the Alaska range for their first time. Serving as their own guides they were excited to arrive on the glacier and quickly humbled by the complex structure of the terrain.


Ode to the Bike Shop Commercial for Specialized

We created a commercial for Small Business Saturday to highlight Specialized's love of local bike shops.


Social Campaign for Rally for Rangers

This year we traveled to Peru, Mongolia, and Bhutan to make short videos and capture still imagery to help raise awareness and increase engagement for the nonprofit organization.


Free to Adventure Commercial for Dynafit

We were tasked to launch the new campaign featuring the new Free Series line and showcase a day skiing with friends can lead to great things.'s natural and cultural heritage.

 

We're starting a Substack

A Departure From Home will be a multimedia Substack that will include a mixture of personal essays, short stories, interviews, or digital shorts about traveling, filmmaking, and the pursuit of art. If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re on our distribution list.th Day! Please check out their profiles and consider donating. Thank you!

 



Nick put together a Spotify Playlist to help get us through the holidays and beyond.


Enjoy the jams!




SPRING 2022

by Mike Ferrell


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All I remember is people were running down the stairs of a flooding building and the planet was on fire. That’s the first memory of Earth Day that was seared into my brain by a video I watched in elementary school in Roseville, CA circa 1988. Well, it worked, I am passionate about protecting our planet and keeping it around for future generations.


But today we celebrate the Earth and next week Nick and I head to Peru for two weeks. I promise this relates to Earth Day!

 

Protecting National Parks

On the way to Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. Mongolia 2018. Photo by Phil Bond.


In 2018, I went to Mongolia to deliver a motorcycle to Erzat Pushatay, a Park Ranger at the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park on the Kazakhstan Mongolia border. Erzat is one of two rangers who’s been at the park from its inception in 1996. He's a government employee so wages aren’t high but that’s not why he does the work. He says, “I give the utmost significance to finding ways of promoting community participation in conservation of the glaciers and wildlife.” That's his mission.


Erzat patrols 183,000 acres of the harshest terrain Mongolia has to offer. He’s responsible for the highest peaks in the park–some of them more than 14,000 feet up–which means the winters are


tough. The Altai Tavan Bogd has under 15 rangers to support it and is five times larger than Yosemite National Park which has approximately 500 rangers.



These motorcycles change the lives of these rangers by giving them reliable transportation and the ability to spend more time with their family by decreasing time in the field.

 

This was a game-changer

Capturing the enormity that is Mongolia. 2018 photo by Phil Bond.


I knew my trip to Mongolia would change my life, I just didn’t know how much. I've volunteered for two rallies, the 2018 Mongolia rally and again the following year in Nepal. In 2020, Rally for Rangers invited me to join their advisory board.


Nick Kalisz and I met in Mongolia. He was hired by Fisher Creative to shoot part of their documentary that’s currently in post-production. Nick and I hit it off and agreed that we should work together sometime. Well, here we are, four years later and two years into starting TopTop.


On May 1st, we’re heading to Peru to capture social media content to help raise awareness for the organization. Nick and I are grateful to have met lifelong friends through these experiences and look forward to helping MEC and RFR grow.

 

About the Organization

Connecting with a family traveling by motorcycle. Mongolia 2018. Photo by Phil Bond.


Rally for Rangers Foundation’s mission is to protect the world’s special places by empowering rangers around the world with new motorcycles and equipment. It’s a project of the NGO, Mongol Ecology Center. MEC’s mission is to engage new generations of environmental stewards and connect them with their natural surroundings and inspire them to value and conserve Mongolia's natural and cultural heritage.

 

Support the mission

Mike and Erzat at the bike delivery in Altai Bogd National Park. Mongolia 2018. Photo by Phil Bond.


This is an amazing cause and organization and worth celebrating on Earth Day! Please check out their profiles and consider donating. Thank you!

 




FEBRUARY 2022

by Mike Ferrell


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Monday was Valentine’s Day, so it’s only fitting this month’s newsletter is dedicated to passion. The word passion takes form in various ways. Passionate love for someone. Ahh, bellissima! Or you hate it with a passion. That’s not ideal but better than being indifferent. Passion projects are often used to describe something you work on for free if only to have the chance to bring it to life. That model isn’t sustainable for working creatives but it’s a way to feel fulfilled. Passion isn’t something you can control or force. It’s not always a raging inferno but the pilot is always lit – omnipresent. Film director Federico Fellini might have said it best, “There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.” And for those of you pursuing your passion, creative or otherwise, give it all you’ve got. Buon appetito!

 

When you’re passionate about something or someone your mind can’t help but be drawn to it. In this case, we have both. Space Nebula was born when Nick Kalisz and his partner Meredith Drangin wanted to create something with their hands. “We were really trying to go for a very clean aesthetic, like some James Turrell sh*t,” says Nick, bleeping his own writing, “Very clean gradients and beautiful color mixing. But when we started to mix more paints, they started to meld together like landscapes breaking apart. It felt like we were on a different planet watching the "water" create rivers and it shaped this unusual world.”


Enjoy this cathartic short piece!

 

Max Lowe is a director and photographer based in Bozeman, Montana. He’s directed, shot, and produced award-winning short documentary films that have been accepted into festivals like Cannes, Tribeca, and Indi Short Docs. However, his most recent film Torn has us in awe. Max’s love for his family and passion for filmmaking have him asking hard questions and diving into a tragic past. It’s a beautiful film that will bring you to tears. The happy and sad kind. Our hats are off to you, Max, your courage as a human and skill as a filmmaker inspire us.

 

On Oct. 5, 1999, legendary climber Alex Lowe was tragically lost alongside cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges in a deadly avalanche on the slopes of the Tibetan mountain, Shishapangma. Miraculously surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker. After the tragedy, Anker and Alex’s widow, Jennifer, fell in love and married, and Anker stepped in to help raise Alex’s three sons.


Torn will deliver a profoundly intimate look at the Lowe-Anker family using never-before-released archival footage of the ill-fated 1999 expedition, early footage of Alex and Anker as young climbers, personal home videos, and strikingly candid interviews with the Lowe-Ankers, the film will follow Max in his quest to understand his iconic late father as he explores family’s complex relationships in the wake of his father’s death.


Torn is now available on Disney+, watch the trailer here.

 

The playlist curated by Nick is inspired by the pump-up music played before his hockey games. It's a portal through old Napster files that were sent through a DSL internet connection and 'burnt' CDs with sharpie written on the front, sadly scratched so bad they won't even play anymore but you can listen to them here!

 

Let's collaborate!


We want to help you pursue your passion. We can help with story, filmmaking, or however, you see us being a part of your project. So if you’re an athlete on a mission, creative with a concept, or a marketer with an audience – we would love to collaborate with you. Email us, let's make'em happen!



The
Ascent

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