Bring Mile… Mile & A Half to YOUR TOWN

20 Aug

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The last few months have been great.

We’ve had a bunch of great screenings across the country, been in a couple of film festivals, and dragged Opus Orange along for most of it. Most of our shows have sold out or come very close, and we know it’s because of you.  It’s because you’re excited to see the movie that shows people what you’ve been telling them since you heard about it! That it’s hard, and oh-so-rewarding to get out there, push yourself, and see things you have to work to see.  You’ve watched our trailers, and read our blogs, and told your friends that they need to see this movie.
If you’ve seen the movie you know, everyone laughs at the same parts, moans at the same parts (mostly Durand’s lines), and cringes at the same parts (still mostly Durand). It’s great on DVD, and beautiful on Blu-Ray, but it lives in the theater.

And if you haven’t been able to see it yet, now’s your chance to see that movie, to show your friends; in your home town theater!  By setting up a Tugg screening you can show them what you’ve been excited for this whole time. And you even get a percentage of the ticket sales to pay you back for promoting it.  You can use that money to help toward a new sleeping pad, donate it to a wilderness charity, or put it into your local trail group.

“But Wait!” you say.  “I want to meet you and ask questions, and watch the movie with you in the room!”We wish we could travel the country (world even!) to each-and-every city that each-and-every one of you live in; watch the movie with you, listen to some Opus Orange, and answer your questions after.  But logistically it’s just not possible. We have weddings to plan, and kids in kindergarten, and jobs; and as much as we’d love to meet every one of you in person, we just can’t do it this way.


But as luck would have it there will be an audience full of people just like us at those screenings. People who love the wild. People who have taken long walks. People who have stories to tell about it. Get MMAAH into your local theater, promote it and pack the house.  After the movie grab a bunch of people and go to a diner and talk about the movie.  Tell someone your marmot story. Listen to them moan about their blisters. Compare your mosquito horror stories. Slap someone on the back when they tell you about a tough summit they reached. We love hearing those stories after a screening. Tell them to each other and then tell us in an email! (We love those, too.)

We’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet each other- on the trail.





  • What is Tugg?  Tugg allows you to host a special screening of “Mile… Mile & A Half” on the big screen at a theatre near you.  It is free and easy to set up, fun to promote, you will earn money for yourself, a charity, or an organization and you could even use the event as an opportunity to build community or awareness.
  • You say I can earn money as a promoter?  Yes, as a promoter, you get 5% of the ticket sales IF the Tugg screening meets its threshold and actually happens.  You can keep the money for the work you’ve done, or donate it to a cause.
  • What is the process of setting up a screening?

◦       Step 1. In an online form you will tell Tugg your preferred dates, times and theaters, any event details and if you would like the event to be a fundraiser.  Use “Create Event” button on our Tugg page to get started.

◦       Step 2. Once you’ve done so, a Tugg team member will reach out to you within 3-5 business days to help you setup your event. Tugg will manage all communication with the theater.

◦       Step 3. Once your request is approved by a theater, Tugg will create an event page where you can direct people to purchase their tickets. Tickets must be reserved in advance online through the Tugg event page by the set Deadline.

◦       Step 4. After your event meets its Threshold, Tugg will send tickets to all the attendees and handle the logistics for the screening.  Tickets will remain on sale until the online box office closes 4 hours prior to screening.  Ready to launch an event?

  • What is a Threshold?  The event Threshold is the minimum amount of tickets that need to be sold in order for the event to be confirmed. The Threshold can vary depending on film, location, time and date (Thresholds generally range from 60-90 tickets).
  • What is a Deadline? The event Deadline is the day and time by which the event must meet its Threshold. If the Threshold is not met by the Deadline, the event will be called off and no one will be charged for their ticket reservation.
  • Will the theatre charge me? If you set up a screening via Tugg, the only thing YOU will be charged is your ticket purchase, and that’s only IF the screening is held.  And if the threshold of required ticket reservations isn’t met, then no one is charged.
  • Also, about how much does Tugg normally charge for tickets? They are usually the regular price you are used to paying.
  • How can I keep in touch with the ticket purchasers/attendees?  Tugg’s Promoter Messaging enables you to communicate directly with ticket buyers before and after the event.
  • How do I spread the word to get people aware of the screening so I can reach the threshold or beyond?  In order to meet the Threshold before the Deadline, it’s up to you to get the word out to your community.  Use your favorite tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus+, Meetup, Evite, etc.  To do this effectively, Tugg provides tips and tools to help you promote your event through email, social media and more.  We will help too by making an event for your screening on our Facebook page and on our website.  Also, we will send you a promoter’s packet full of tips on how to promote your event, an event poster & flyer PDF. Plus once the event is confirmed, we’ll send a Tshirt for you and some giveaways for attendees.  And as the promoter you will receive 5% of ALL ticket sales, so make sure to keep getting the word out!
  • Can I customize my screening? You are allowed to organize a post-screening discussion, invite local advocates, educators, and leaders to an in-theater panel or even arrange for local hiking communities or related businesses to set up booths in the lobby.  Be imaginative!
  • Can I have you guys at the screening?  We would love to be there if it fits with our schedule and Tugg can organize with the theatre!  The In-Person Filmmaker Screenings are called a “Bundled” ticket.  The screening take must place at an AMC theater.  Depending on the date/time/location and our availability, Tugg will let you know how much the tickets will cost and how many tickets you’d need to presell before the threshold is met.
  • Can I have you guys Skype in?  Skype is not available at this time.
  • Can I bring the film to Toronto?  Unfortunately, Tugg only operates in the United States.  They have plans to eventually reach overseas, but presently operations are limited to here.
  • Can I have the event benefit a non-profit I love? Yes Tugg can be used very effectively for Non-Profit Fundraising.  See below for more information.**
  • Can I use Corporate Sponsorship?  Yes Tugg can be used for Corporate Sponsorship.  See below for more information.**
  • What I if want to be a promoter but not use Tugg?  In terms of hosting a one-time screening outside of Tugg, we ask for a licensing fee of $219 (the number of miles we hiked).  For that fee, you’ll receive a “Host a screening packet” that includes a BluRay & DVD copy that you’ll be able to screen from, and you can screen it for as many people as you’d like as a fundraiser or otherwise.  In this situation however, you’ll have to make all the arrangements (location, projection, sound, screening room, ticket sales, etc).
  • What if I don’t want to be a promoter but want to know when a screening comes to my city?  You can be notified of screenings by clicking on the “Follow the Title” button on our Tugg page.
  • For more information you can go and
  • **Using Tugg for Non-Profit Fundraising - The host organization will receive a branded event page, in-auditorium recognition, collected donations and 5% of ticket sales.  You can use the event to amplify your organization’s message with social marketing and word of mouth marketing.  The film screening can provide a unique avenue to engage your supporters and explore important topics. And there are NO COSTS to create the event because screenings are paid through ticket sales.  Other options: Tugg’s Contributions feature allows ticket buyers the opportunity to make an additional donation to a cause you specify.  Perks can be offered at every donation level, incentivizing ticket buyers to give more.  Meet your quarterly fundraising goals while engaging the community around important topics.  Keep in touch with donors after the event and send them tax deductible receipts.  Contact Leslie Canter for more info
  • **Using Tugg for Corporate Sponsorship - The host organization will receive a branded event page, in-auditorium recognition, collected donations and 5% of ticket sales.  You can use the event to amplify your organization’s message with social marketing and word of mouth marketing.  The film screening can provide a unique avenue to engage your supporters and explore important topics.  Ticketing flexibility, allowing attendees to RSVP for free tickets or receive discounted admission.  Other options: Bring your community together for a private showing of the film.  Sponsors can purchase a block of tickets to be given away to constituents or customers.  Sponsors provide a promo code to their customers, paying for all or a portion of the ticket price.  All events can be set up as fundraisers, utilizing Tugg’s Contribution feature.    Contact Leslie Canter for more info

Four Days, Three Cities

2 Jul

Packed houses full of the best fans ever, a standing ovation, and a John Muir Doll… how can it get better than that? Oh yeah… we even got in a few hikes. Yeah, that’s good stuff.

Our journey began in Yosemite, but we’ve gone so much farther than the original John Muir Trail.

Thank you all for walking with us in Santa Fe, Durango and Washington D.C.



A Peek Back at the Premiere

25 Jun

A Three Hour tour… A Three Hour Tour.

For some reason the chorus to Giligan’s Island was what was echoing between my ears in the final minutes before we were rushed into the theater at the Chinese 6 in Hollywood last Saturday. It was born from the notion of what’s supposed to be a shorter trip (25 days in our case,) becoming a much longer journey (over 2 years and counting.) It was our world premiere as part of the excellent Dances With Films festival here in Los Angeles. We managed to sell out two shows which was a first for the 16 year old festival, and the theaters were packed with hikers!



It was hard to not be overwhelmed trying to meet all of the people, many of whom we’ve had long standing friendships with, and many we were just getting to know.  It was a very emotional moment, because we had worked so hard to get to that day. We’ve had so many triumphs like, thanks to many of you, our successful Kickstarter campaign, and really wonderful responses from the people who attended our private screenings. However, like any grand endeavor we were met with a lot of set backs and rejections as well. To produce any self-financed, independent film – especially a feature length one – you have to believe that’s it’s good, and that people will want to see it. But you never truly know until you finally send it out to the world. The two lines out the door certainly was a reassuring sight.


We were of course nervous as the two screenings ran, the second only twenty minutes behind the first. We took turns going from theater to theater to see how the crowds were responding. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for my nerves to ease as people were laughing and reacting to each scene. Always a good sign. Ric, Jen and I stood in the hallway entrance to the first theater, and about half way through the movie I nudged Ric and said, “it’s a good sign if they’re even laughing at your jokes.” He cracked a big smile and I could tell that he was enjoying the moment too.

After the first screening ended, we did a fast Q & A, that if I’m being honest is a bit of a blur now. I just remember how generous the comments were, and that the questions were all insightful and thought provoking. About twenty minutes later, we were whisked into the second theater for the second Q & A, sadly also mostly a blur to me now. But I do remember a really wonderful energy coming from the audience.


We finished the night (with many of the people who attended the screening) in the speakeasy back room of the Pig and Whistle with a great show by our friends and co-conspirators, Opus Orange. They are not only gifted musicians, but truly genuinely awesome people as well.

Like the ill-fated crew of the Minnow, it’s going to be a long time before we’re off the Mile.. Mile.. and A Half Island. But for us, with the great adventure just starting, we’ll count ourselves lucky if it lasts a good long while.

We’d like to thank Michael, Leslee, Robert, Jonah, Felicia, Kim, Kerim and all of the other staff and volunteers from Dances with films, and our volunteers Alicia, Robi and Angus, for believing in an hour and a half documentary about people walking from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. Also, thanks to all of you for making this day possible! It’s surely one that none of us will ever be able to forget.

And if you wanted to see more, fan Tiffany Germann had a camera with her that night (unbeknownst to us.) Enjoy.


Thanks to all of your we received the AUDIENCE AWARD for DOCUMENTARY!


Woot! You like us! You really like us! (um, …even Durand? Just asking.)



Life after Cancer, JMT style

3 Jun



First, let me thank Jason for offering me the opportunity to be a guest blogger here at the Muir project website.  My plan is to hike the John Muir Trail from August 13th to September 9th of this year, but in reality my journey began on March 31, 2010, when I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  CLL, as it is known, is the most common type of leukemia in adults, and usually is slow-developing and highly treatable.  Unluckily for me, my CLL had a genetic mutation that indicated more aggressive disease – and mine was especially aggressive, as indicated by my white cell count rising rapidly despite all our prayers to the contrary.  My tandem of doctors – Michael Keating at MD Anderson in Houston and Alan Kritz, here in Raleigh – put me on a chemotherapy regimen from January through July 2011, comprised of 6 monthly cycles, with each cycle consisting of 4 consecutive days of chemotherapy.  While this regimen wiped out the cancer cells in my bloodstream, about half the cancer remained in my bone marrow; called a “partial response”, it fell far short of our hopes for a full remission.   My wife, Renee (full angel status with wings to prove it), and I met with Dr. Keating that August, and in discussing our options for the next round of treatment, he floated the “T” word – transplant.  In my case, a bone marrow, or stem cell transplant was a possible treatment option that carried high risk (10% mortality in the first year), but also the possibility of eradicating the disease.  While a final decision was yet to be made, we went home while Dr. Keating wrestled with what to do next.




Just a month later, in September 2011, I went on a fly fishing trip to Colorado and came home with a nasty chest cold.  An x-ray revealed pneumonia, which necessitated hospitalization and treatment with high dose antibiotics.  While in the hospital, a CT scan of my lungs revealed a mass in my lung that was ultimately determined to be an aggressive B-cell lymphoma tumor.  My CLL had mutated into a nightmarish condition called Richter’s transformation, which few survive.  Again, Drs. Keating and Kritz conferred and decided the only real chance I had was a high-dose chemotherapy protocol to try to force both cancers into remission, followed immediately by a stem cell transplant from my perfectly-matched older sister, Laure.


As a person of faith coming from a family of faith, this was a spiritual journey as well as a medical one.  I trusted my fate to the good doctors and the good Lord, whatever was to come.  And my family, friends, and colleagues prayed.  The two chemotherapy treatments in October and November, of course, wiped me out, but they did their job and subdued the leukemia and lymphoma to a sufficient extent for Dr. Keating to order the transplant to proceed on December 21, 2011.  After my entire immune system and all my blood-making cells were destroyed by what is ironically called a ‘conditioning regimen’ of chemo, my sister’s donated stem cells were infused to begin the complete rebuilding of these life-giving processes that work in our bone marrow.  As I passed post-transplant milestones it became clear that the procedure was successful and I heard those most precious words – ‘cancer-free’ – in April of 2012.  And we all praised God and the doctors, through whom He worked.


So what does this have to do with the John Muir Trail?  Right around the first anniversary of my transplant, I began to think about doing something ‘epic’ to raise money and awareness for leukemia and lymphoma research.  As a survivor of both diseases and being blessed with remarkably good health, I have been positioned to perhaps stretch the limits of what is possible after surviving a bone marrow transplant.  I  also happen to be High Sierra junkie of the first order!  Hiking the JMT, to me, is an extravagance that I would probably never have undertaken; but surviving 2 kinds of cancer impels me to show fellow cancer patients that they can FIGHT, SURVIVE, and do AMAZING THINGS as they overcome their disease.  This is what gives me the drive to take on this monumental challenge.

In addition to this aspect of my undertaking, I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (, and again, blessed with many contacts from my extended family and business career, I have raised over $63,000 to date for the cause of curing blood cancers (

My hiking partner is Mike Nix, a practicing Buddhist and ex-marine whom I have known for many years – we took our sons camping and hiking together many times.  We will be guided by Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (

I’ve really enjoyed exploring the Muir Project website; I’m grateful for the inspiration, encouragement, and donations from the Mile…Mile and a Half team, and just really excited to see the movie as soon as I possibly can.  Let me end with a quote from JM himself:


Through a meadow opening in the pinewoods I see snowy peaks about the headwaters of the Merced above Yosemite.  How near they seem and how clear their outlines on the blue air, or rather in the blue air; for they seem to be saturated with it.  How consuming strong the invitation they extend!  Shall I be allowed to go to them?  Night and day I’ll pray that I may, but it seems too good to be true.  Someone worthy will go, able for the Godful work, yet as far as I can I must drift about these lovemonument mountains, glad to be a servant of servants in so holy a wilderness!




JMT Inspiration for All Ages

21 May

We are so grateful for all of the stories our fans share with us about how our project has inspired them to do new things. Here’s one from fan, Sandy.

Sandy, Helen, Paula, Cris, Tom, and Jim



“Muir Project – Thank you for the inspiration. You kept us motivated.”

Everyone had so much fun at the high school 40th reunion everyone wanted to stay in touch and do something grand for our upcoming 60th birthdays. A few had been feeling life pretty up close and personal; the joys of grand babies, remarriages, and the sadness of divorce, loss of parents, and the loss of friends to illness. A party cruise to Mexico, a beach house at Bodega or Tahoe for the summer wasn’t going to cut it. An adventure was needed – something life affirming – something that told us we really were as young as we thought we felt and looked (;-)) ) something that told us we were champions and would conquer this next phase of life so bring it on. A 5-day pack supported trip on 35 miles of the John Muir Trail from Mammoth to Tuolomne Meadows was in order. 4 high school friends (out of 25-50 who were asked), a husband, and brother signed up about 8 months before the trip. One gal was a recent divorcee, one was recently remarried and came out from Denver, another overcame a back injury, the other was the organizer and cheerleader of the group who had not been back packing for close to 40 years. Our idea of camping was the Holiday Inn.

We signed up. Paid the deposit….then…..then…paid the balance…then…

The dilemna was how to keep everyone motivated. The Muir Project trailers did the job. They were so beautiful. Inspiring. There was a petite woman like two of us. One or two didn’t look in super shape just like me! One said it “was hard.” Just when the energy began to lag another trailer came out and was sent to the Super Six! We had a blast. Everyday was awe inspiring just like the trailers. We sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as we crested Donahue Pass down into Lyell Canyon and entered a new and fabulous time of our lives.

Epilogue: 2 weeks after our “trek” we went to a 60th bday party with about 30 of our old friends, yep we were the ROCK STARS!!!! 2 gals are continuing to hiking in their home territories of Sonoma County and the Rockies. 3 have signed up for a one-day trip up Half Dome & back & I have signed up for a 5-day backpacking trip in the Yosemite high country!

Next: Maybe the whole JMT for our 65th birthday! You never know!


- Sandy Finegan