Heading into its final weeks of post-production work, “RV Nomads: The Movie” is riding a wave of momentum, and that couldn’t make the film’s director, Tom Morton, any happier.
Set to premiere this October via livestream from the sold-out NomadFEST event in Wellington, Texas, “RV Nomads” is a documentary-style feature-length film that chronicles the full-time RVing phenomena sweeping the nation.
And, while early dailies promise the movie will capture the wanderlust of fun-loving RVers, what exactly is fueling the momentum that has Morton so pleased?
First, the upcoming feature film recently wrapped filming in the scorching heat of Texas and ruggedly beautiful terrain of Colorado. Washington-based editors now are sifting through 21 terabytes of footage filmed by 4K-resolution cameras.
Second, the movie’s production company, Epic Nomad Films, smashed its crowd-sourced $25,000 fundraising goal so that it could finish post-production on the movie.
And third, “RV Nomads” has attracted an impressive list of sponsors from the RV industry including National Indoor RV Centers, Escapees RV Club, Battle Born Batteries/Dragonfly Energy, Zamp Solar, TechnoRV, SnapPad, weBoost, Strongback Chairs, Morton Trailer Supply, Dometic, Boondockers Welcome, RV Success School, Carefree of Colorado, Xscapers RV Club, RV Water Filter Store, Airhead composting toilets and Roadmaster.
The stars of “RV Nomads” are 15 full-time RVing social media celebrities who, combined, have more than 20 million YouTube views. Many of these stars, it should be noted, were tapped to serve in production roles for the film, including Morton and his wife, Caitlin, the movie’s production coordinator, who live full-time in a 2005 Doubletree 32TK3 fifth-wheel and operate the popular “Mortons on the Move” and “Road Gear Reviews” YouTube channels.
Recently, the Mortons sat down for an interview with RVBUSINESS.com to discuss the movie. What follows is an edited account of that conversation.
RVB: So, what is it about this full-time RVing movement that your movie is hoping to portray?
Caitlin: The full-time RV movement is, from what we’ve found in our interviews and in our documentary, is that people really want to get out and get away.
The American dream that they’ve been living – the house, the yard, the job, the new cars – for a lot of people, that’s not either attainable unless they work really, really hard.
So, what we’ve been seeing is that the full time RV movement is a way for people to still work, still be productive members of society, but also get to experience that adventure and that outdoor freedom — with less stuff.
Tom: It’s just real life for these people. They’re not camping every day. It is their life – it’s our life. It’s how we’re choosing to live and the RV is the tool to get there.
RVB: What do you hope people in the RV industry will get out of this movie?
Caitlin: I think that companies in the RV industry can only benefit from this movie because we depict a lot of different types of RVs. We depict a lot of different features in the RVs. We depict a lot of beautiful places that you can take these RVs.
So it really showcases the lifestyle, and the RV is a huge enabler for the lifestyle. While we’re not necessarily telling people that this is for everyone, it is heavily implied that the RV can get you closer to nature, can get you out there, can have you spending time with your family – and that’s all part of the RV industry’s goal as well. It’s to show people that this is a lifestyle, this is a fun thing to do, and I think that’ll equate to more RV sales.
Tom: I think that’s very well said, and I hope that the RV industry also sees that this is a growing trend that is more than just a “couple of years” kind of a thing. People are going to choose to do this, truthfully, as far into the future as I can see. People are choosing more freedom. The Internet has allowed us to be connected everywhere we go and it’s enabling more and more freedom than anyone ever thought possible.
The digital nomadism is going to be a real thing for the foreseeable future. And these people are interested in specific rigs that are higher quality and are going to provide them with a comfortable lifestyle anywhere they go.
Caitlin: And, finally, I think that the movie is going to also get into the realism of it. A lot of people do see it on social media as sunshine and rainbows and you’re always in these idealistic places. Well, no. In the movie we are going to talk about the downs as well as the ups.
So, we’ll also show issues with your black tank and sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots, you know? What we’re hoping to also do is say, “This is what it is really like.” And we’ve actually heard from industry folks that one of the biggest hurdles and challenges that they have is people having this expectation that they’re going to go out there and have a perfect experience. Well, no. Things go wrong, life happens — and it’s going to happen no matter what you do.
So if you go into it with an expectation of, “Okay, I do have to take care of my black tank and it might not go well,” and “I’m not going to find a campsite everywhere I go,” and “I might have to overnight in a rest stop or something.” Those things are difficult. So, setting that expectation to have generally more satisfied customers is another benefit this movie will provide the industry.
RVB: Sure, you have experience with your YouTube channel, but that’s not quite the same as a movie. What was it like? It looks like it was a lot of work, but it also looks like you had a lot of fun, too.
Tom: Yeah, making a movie is a lot of work but it’s really rewarding as well. Personally getting to pull a team together with a central vision, especially a documentary … it’s not scripted. We’re going out there capturing the real world, whatever it is. We’re setting up cameras and letting real life come to us. Capturing that is a lot of fun. We are using some really cool technology and cameras that we get to be behind and use our creative vision to put together a lifestyle story in a really fun way.
Caitlin: Going into it, we knew that it was going to be hard work, but we didn’t know what that meant. It was a lot of hard work and we listened to a lot of great stories. Even though we have maybe heard the stories before, in the retelling that Eric (Odom, the film’s producer) asked for in interview content … it was amazing to hear everyone’s story again.
It was so inspiring; you’d get goose bumps. People were crying in the studio; people were laughing in the studio. So while it was a lot of work, I don’t think we realized how much fun it was going to be and how close we were going to become with everyone. It really just affirmed why we’re doing this, because every story was so inspirational. It was like, “Ah! I want to do that. But, wait a minute! I am doing that! This is so cool!”
RVB: Is it fair to say this movie is the result of a bunch of YouTubers coming together to form this sort of renegade film crew?
Caitlin: Well, yeah, nobody on the set had ever done something like this before. But it was amazing to see where we started, and trying to figure out, “You should be over here. No, you should be over there. Maybe we should do this.” At the end, it was like a well-oiled machine. Everyone just kind of intuitively knew how to work around each other.
Tom: I think everybody learned an enormous amount. I had an amazing crew that I was working with the whole time and they all, by the end, exceeded my expectations. They all knew what they were doing. They knew how to get it done and how to get it done really well.
So, I’d say it was pretty neat to turn YouTubers into true filmmakers.