Four years ago, our crew set out to bring a historic expedition out of obscurity and create a phenomenon out of the lost lessons of the past.
Our film—The Devil's Road—comes at a time when we as a society are finally realizing that our natural world is changing, and that human activity is the driving force behind it. Scientists have known this for decades, but now the changes are so large, and happen at such a high rate, that it is apparent to anyone who looks. This scientific consensus could not have been built without the sweat of early explorers, who traveled to distant inhospitable lands to study and catalog what they found. Only through a comparison between past records and modern observations can we definitively show that things are amiss in ecosystems worldwide.
Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman are not household names, and they were not the first explorers of Baja California, but their work in the early 1900s brought together all previous studies performed there and laid a foundation for all future ones. They were a bridge between viewpoints.
The Devil's Road is about navigating between perspectives. We shine a light on the past to contextualize the present. Many seem to consider our current problems as fully unique to our time period, disconnected from history. But historical context is a tool that can help us make sense of problems happening today and can even help us find a way forward. To know where you're going, it helps to know where you've been.
This is what I hope our film accomplishes. It's not just a historical documentary or motorcycle road movie. It's not a reprimand on the audience for some perceived failure to protect the environment. It's a chance to gain a wider perspective and view the trajectory that our planet's ecosystems are on, and to help people make their own decisions about how we should approach the future.
Travelers are quick to think that everything worth finding has been found. That people like Nelson or Goldman are the last explorers able to make significant discoveries. That Earth has essentially been conquered, or worse, that the decline into catastrophe has begun and is irreversible. But scientists today continue to push the envelope, to make new connections, to discover new forms of life and advance our understanding of the world we live in. Men and women of science are in the unique position of seeing both how much there is left to discover, and how easily it can disappear.
The future of earth's ecosystems will reflect our actions today. There is no better lens through which to view these ideas than Baja California—a place where history, nature, and adventure collide.
Director, The Devil’s Road