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Castaic resident offers ‘The Alps’

Jim Tompkins shares his adventure documentary film at Castaic Lake

Posted: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Castaic filmmaker Jim Tompkins on location in the Alps.

 

"It was quite an adventure," said Castaic filmmaker Jim Tompkins, talking about his experiences shooting his travel adventure documentary entitled The Alps.

Tompkins will present his live cinema presentation of "The Alps" at Paradise Cove on Castaic Lake on Friday evening, June 28 as part of "Movie Nights on the Beach."

The free show starts at sundown, around 8 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, beach chairs and a sweater or jacket.

Tompkins said the Alps are "perhaps the most beloved mountain range on earth."

The Alps are a favorite destination for travelers to Europe, he said.

"Few visitors see as many places in the Alps as we will," Tompkins said.

To complete his cinematic undertaking Tompkins loaded up with 30 pounds of camera and other gear and hiked several miles every day for two months to experience the Alps first-hand.

He traveled to the countries of Monaco, France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria and Slovenia.

Tompkins said it was hard to choose his favorite part of the Alps.

"That’s a tough one," he said. "Each area has its own character. Some places I’d like to go back and explore again, but there are other places where the atmosphere would be hard to match on a return trip."

He said his biggest surprise were the Alps of Slovenia.

"I had no idea what to expect. Its one of the most beautiful locations in the film," Tompkins said.

Tompkins said another surprise he encountered were choral groups who would break into song while on their own tours of the Alps.

One spontaneous performance occurred in a palace in the Lake Country of Italy. A guide coaxed the group into trying out the acoustics.

"It was an unexpected highlight of the tour," he said.

Tompkins said the film is broken down into 10 chapters, each chapter presenting "a different mood of the Alps."

"It’s not just about one country," he said. "I wanted to try and get a flavor of all the different cultures and landscapes of the Alps."

Highlights in the first half of the film include Monaco and Provence, the Lake Country of Italy, the Dolomites, Liechtenstein and the Jungfrau region of Switzerland.

The second half focuses on the Matterhorn, Salzburg and the Salzkammergut region of Austria, the Bavarian Alps, Lakes Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia, topped off with the highest peak in Europe, Frances Mont Blanc.

"It’s like a brisk walk," he said.

Tompkins said he did a lot of walking on his trip.

Accompanied by his brother Eric Tompkins, the duo covered the entire trip by bus, rail and on foot.

Thompkins credits his brother, Eric, with doing much of the logistical work of the trip.

"He allowed me to focus on making the film," he said.

Live cinema shows are a unique kind of performance entertainment, Tompkins said.

He encouraged anyone who has never seen one to experience it in person. Using digital production and projection, the film will be narrated live by the filmmaker, accompanied by an original film score, location sound and clear, bright, digital imagery.

Tompkins grew up among the gorges and waterfalls of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where he gained an early admiration of nature and landscapes.

While attending Ithaca College, he studied Film Production and Art History, acquiring a Bachelors degree in Cinematography.

After graduation, he moved to Southern California and spent several years working in the motion picture industry before becoming an independent filmmaker.

Tompkins retraced the 2,000 Oregon Trail to produce his first travel feature, "Emigrant Road — An Oregon Trail Adventure."

It is one of the first travel adventure films produced in digital cinema format.

His second production, "Four Corners," highlights the mountains, rivers, canyons and cultures of the American Southwest.

Tompkins lives in Castaic and is an active member of the Friends of Castaic Lake, an organization which supports aquatic activities and other programs at Castaic Lake.

In addition to his filmmaking adventures Tompkins can often be found paddling his kayak on the lower lagoon of Castaic Lake.

Tompkins has presented his travel films throughout the U.S., including performances at the National Geographic Society in Washington, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and the Sundome in Phoenix.

The Travel Adventure Cinema Society awarded him its highest honor, the Hall of Fame Award.

Details about the show can be found at castaiclake.com or by calling the lake at 661-257-4050.

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