In 1968, intrepid adventurists Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins loaded a second-hand panel van with surfboards, climbing gear and camping supplies, started the ignition and headed south on an epic journey from Ventura, Calif., straight into the heart of the unknown. Theirs was a story that would become the stuff of legend, and one that would inspire generations of sturdy-soled wanderers to find their own path in life.
On Friday, May 7, some 42 years later, Tim Lynch ’95 stood outside the University of San Diego’s Shiley Theatre and displayed a mix of excitement and anxiousness prior to a screening of “180° South,” a documentary film he has produced. The film follows the experiences of surfer, climber and writer Jeff Johnson as he retraces Chouinard and Tompkin’s grand trek from Southern California to Patagonia, a vast and unspoiled region located in southernmost South America.
“I’ve really been looking forward to showing this film here at USD,” said Lynch (pictured, at right) as he surveyed the swelling crowd waiting to enter the theater. “It’s kind of funny, actually. Obviously, Yvon and Doug’s experience was totally different, but this is kind of a start to a big journey for me as well, and I can understand how excited and nervous they felt.”
Much like their heroes Chouinard and Tompkins — who founded outdoor clothing companies Patagonia and The North Face, respectively — Lynch, Johnson and “180° South” Director Chris Malloy didn’t really have a clear idea of what they were getting themselves into, other than the end goal was for Johnson to summit a remote mountain in the Chilean region of Patagonia known as Cerro Corcovado. Along the way, Lynch and company learned to keep an open mind, letting the journey dictate the plot threads and themes rather than a pre-drafted storyboard.
“It’s really an adventure that allowed us to find out more about our heroes Yvon and Doug, guys who were committed to protecting the environment before it became fashionable to do so,” Lynch said. “Good storytelling is subtle storytelling, and this film has lots of layers and messages that will trigger different reactions from different people.”
One message was how the demands of an ever-growing population can adversely impact the environment, and how adopting policies of conservation and sustainability are imperative to the global community’s future success — and survival. According to Greg Zackowski, executive director of Student Life Facilities and a USD Sustainability Task Force member, that message is something that really resonates with today’s Toreros.
“Students these days are much more interested in the sustainability movement,” he said. “They realize it’s not just a fad, it’s about quality of life. I think movies like this support that belief.”
The boisterous applause as the credits rolled suggested that Lynch produced a movie that he and his cohorts at Woodshed Films should be very proud of, one that educates as it entertains.
“You know, this film had a little bit of everything to me,” he said. “It’s got real-life heroes, a real adventure element, and it’s got a really strong environmental message that speaks to everyone, regardless of where you’re from.”
— Mike Sauer
“180° South” will be shown at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas May 22 through 27.
Photo of Tim Lynch provided by Tim Mantoani