The Man Behind Unbreakable - Page 2
It took five more years and a personal introduction to trail running before the PCT became a subject for Benna’s first feature film.
Says Benna, “One of my hiking partners was into ultras, so I watched the Baldy Peak 50K. And I thought, ‘If I can hike 30 miles in a day, then I can mix in some running and do a 50K race.’” It was 2003 and Benna ran trails for three months to prepare for his first ultra, the Ridge Crest 50K.
Through the ultra community, Benna heard about ultrarunning legend David Horton, who was training to become the first person to run the entire PCT, in 2005. Benna seized the opportunity he had waited for to finish his five-year-old dream of a film about the PCT. He signed on as both Horton’s crew and cameraman.
To capture Horton’s 66-day journey, Benna hiked, ran and drove thousands of miles, much of it carrying a 10-pound camera, as well as food to resupply Horton.
“Benna understands the emotions of doing a long journey,” says Horton. “He asks very probing questions, because he knows about the difficulty, the mental pressure and mental toughness it takes to do those things.”
The result was The Runner, a film that won awards at four film and music festivals the following year.
In Unbreakable, Benna’s sensitivity and understanding are most clear in his treatment of the race’s eventual winner, Geoff Roes. He follows one of Roe’s rivals, the night before the race, eating in a fancy restaurant and whooping it up with friends. In a deftly crafted contrast, the film cuts to the solitary Roes not long before the race, camping in the woods, preparing pasta in his cook kit and contemplating the monumental task at hand.
Benna has a personal motive embodied in his company’s mission statement for choosing his subject matter: “… raising awareness for conservation, simpler living, and greater appreciation of the world.”
“I love being outdoors,” says Benna. “I want to inspire people to get out there, to share stories of simple living.”
As more people see his films, especially Unbreakable, that mission is being furthered in another way. Says Benna, “Many of the showings have been held as fundraisers for non-profits. So far the film has helped raise almost $40,000, and much of it is to preserve trail systems.”