Inspire Friday Issue No. 22

Riding the chutes at Bartlett Wash, a tiny feathered holiday hitchhiker, nature and whimsy collide, and more…

Riding the chutes at Bartlett Wash. In this week’s making-of video, the MFF team is on location in Moab, Utah, filming mountain biking scenes for National Parks Adventure. Professional mountain biker rider makes it look easy, but it’s anything but.  Thank goodness for helmets. Watch here.

A collection of competition oddities. In the completely charming 6-episode docuseries We Are The Champions, we watch as humans from all over the world compete in competitions you have probably never heard of. From cheese rolling to frog jumping to fantasy hairstyling and so much more, this series is the perfect watch for all ages and will leave you in utter wonder at the lengths some will go for championship victory. Narrated by Rainn Wilson from The Office fame. This is a total must-watch. Watch trailer.

A little Christmas miracle. The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was delivered to NYC this year with one very tiny surprise: a small and adorable saw-whet owl who hitchhiked along for the tree’s 3-day journey from Oneonta, NY to the Big Apple.  The tiny owl was taken to a wildlife center where she received plenty of fluids and all the mice she could eat. The staff nicknamed her Rockefeller—or Rocky for short. The center plans to release the bird once she receives a clean bill of health. Read more.

Whimsy and nature collide. Because we all need a little art and whimsy in our day we’re sharing this week’s cover of The New Yorker magazine designed by artist Edward Steed and titled “Tree of Life.” Here, the artist discusses the inspiration for his image of a creation tale for the holidays, where the drawings “look like animals that could have evolved but didn’t for some reason.” Read more.

7 wins for the environment this year. Yes, 2020 has been a gut-wrenching rollercoaster ride, but some good things have happened, too. NatGeo compiled a list of some of the biggest environmental wins this year, including commitments to produce more electric vehicles, new marine protections, and so much more. A sign of more good things to come, we hope. Read more.


Every week, MFF president Shaun MacGillivray shares what is inspiring him now, his favorite book recommendations, podcasts, articles, short films, docs, quotes, trends, innovative companies, people, and entrepreneurial stories.

A woman, her son, and a journey to escape. “I loved American Dirt. I couldn’t put it down and ended up staying up an entire night to read it. This novel is an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection and it tells the story of one woman’s immigration journey in a riveting and suspenseful way. I’m sure it will be a film soon.” Available here.

Understanding China better. “This is an incredible autobiography. I learned more about China with this book than I have in all my other readings, in news stories, or on TV. This book makes you realize why China’s economy has grown so fast over the last 25 years. In Janet Yellen’s forward, she shares: ‘Weijian Shan’s Out of the Gobi is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to re-shape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America.'” Available here.

And for further inspiring reading recommendations…
Visit Shaun’s “Never Stop Learning” reading list.

Anything for the shot. “In 1978, the film Big Wednesday was to be the epic surfing drama of all time. Warner Bros. hired us to direct and produce all the surfing action scenes, a huge job, from a script by John Milius, a hot Hollywood writer/director who would go on to make films such as Apocalypse Now and Conan the Barbarian. So off we went to El Salvador where there was a surfing location that would match California’s Malibu of 1960. The civil war that was raging in El Salvador didn’t impact us as much as the dysentery. Eventually all 20 of our crew got sick, but we did get great footage. In this photo I’m shooting a dialogue scene with Jan-Michel Vincent who was a fairly big star at the time and legendary surfer Gerry Lopez. We were filming out in the line-up when one set rolled in and we all got picked off. I got hit in the head with the camera, opening a gash that required six stitches. But the shot turned out great.” – Greg MacGillivray

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