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Wet-House

By: Ammen Jordan

Film Review By Evan J. Stafford

At about age thirteen, for any of us who engage or engaged in individually driven type sports, life begins to beg the question, how do the pros live? And for some of us, more precisely, the question becomes how and when do I become pro? One way to become pro is to emulate one or more of the characters from Wet-House, Ammen Jordan’s first kayaking feature film. Ammen’s previous work includes the latest Wave Sport video, Doubleyouess, which truly helped to bring Wave Sport back to the forefront of the paddling industry. True professionals Bryan Kirk, Andrew Holcombe, Nikki Kelly, Tanya Shuman, Jimmy Blakeney and Steve Fisher form the inhabitants of the “Wet-House.”

Ammen uses each paddler’s unique paddling history and a visually pleasing highlight reel drawn from the past two years of his extensive filming to tell each paddler’s respective story. From Andrew Holcombe’s three generations of family paddlers to Steve Fisher’s quirky flatwater racing coach, we are treated to an in depth look at what drives these professionals success. Both sides of the female kayaking coin are represented by arguably the two best female paddlers in their respective form: Tanya Shuman in freestyle and Nikki Kelly in expedition style. Though this film does jump from character to character rather abruptly it does not lack fluidity. The purpose of this film is not to feature separate rivers themselves but to highlight the love these paddlers have for the river.

Tanya Shuman about to go HUGE

Blakeney with a nice ollie betwen New River Dries surf sessions

Growing up in the city, my early teens were filled with 5-0 grinds and heelflips, not river waves and waterfalls, though I did still manage to spend a good chunk of the summer adventuring in the Rockies by foot. Similarly, we find an interesting juxtaposition of Jimmy Blakeney’s two childhood scenes: Summers with his father hiking and hunting in the Appalachians while the rest of his year was spent with his mother cruising a wooden plank with four wheels through the streets of Washington DC. Finding his style in the various forms of boarding that were not such acceptable forms of recreation then, as they are today, we find that when Jimmy found kayaking he easily transferred his high definition of style to the river. Not unlike me, he continues to ride boards but finds his passion in the water. Jimmy’s story is close to my heart, but I believe that most people will find at least one character in this film whose story mirrors their own in some way. This film gives you a sense that these pros are exceptional athletes, but that they are also just men and woman who enjoy paddling the river in the sun and the rain just like you and your own posse of river running enthusiasts.

Some of the footage in this movie is slightly dated but you will still be impressed by the bigness of the moves (in the creek and on the wave) and by the high quality cinematography. But more than the just your average visual inspirations this film inspires you to expand your own mental contemplations of why it is that you insist on cramming yourself into the cockpit of a small plastic watercraft, summer after summer, just to run the river.

Wet-House will have its Colorado premier in Fort Collins on Tuesday Feb. 28th 7pm at Mugs Underground. This film will also be shown at the new and improved CKS Paddlefest May 20th in Buena Vista. To find out more about this excellent film or to purchase a copy for yourself go to www.wet-house.com.