An Auspicious Twist of Fate

This is India! Arriving to a cacophony of competing horns, sweat-purging heat, and an incredible variety of life, all new to our naive Alaskan eyes, we are reassured by a warm face.

MUMBAI—Several months back we had the good fortune to meet a young Indian man traveling for his first time to Alaska. “I love the mountains and I wanted to see bears.” Recounts Vishal Shah.

On the tarmac of a Fairbanks airport Vishal paced up and down the aisle, waiting for his delayed flight to depart. As chance would have it, our good Alaskan friend, Devin, was on the same plane. The two weren’t sitting next to each other, but eventually began to share their stories.

“Devin was just sitting alone and the flight got delayed and we were stranded in Fairbanks, I was just taking my walks in the airplane. He asked me ‘Where are you going?’ I told him, I’m going to Seward, but I don’t know where I’m going. Then he said ‘you could stay with me.'”

Vishal took Devin up on his offer to stay in one of his three apartments. We ended up being neighbors. I was in Seward, preparing for our Ganges Scout Trip. I introduced Vishal to Josh and we did our best to show Vishal the Alaska that we loved. When the time came for him to make his way back home, we left with a promise to meet again in India.

Fast-forward several months to our Ganges Scout Trip: there he was at the airport, waving enthusiastically. He took us to his house where we explained our plan to visit several places along the sacred Ganga for a scout for our upcoming expedition film that will take us journeying down the entire length of India’s most sacred river. We expressed our fears of traveling in a country that Josh and I nor our cameraman, Dave, had ever visited. Then before we knew it, all had been decided. Vishal would join us on the scout!

Now, we have just a few more days to prepare all that we’ll need in India’s second most populated city. Soon we’ll embark on our adventure together. First, we must travel for several days by train, bus, and foot to the source of the Ganga. Our goal is to arrive just in time for Diwali, one of the most important Hindu holidays and a major celebration, taking place at the head of the Ganga.

So, here we are; an unlikely international team of adventurers. We’re thrilled to have Vishal along. We’re so proud that we could show him Alaska, and we’re overjoyed that we can now learn about his home-country from him.

And, Yes, Vishal did see a bear when he was in Alaska. Now, I wonder if we’ll find what we’re looking for.

Behind the Lens Infront of India


I’m Dave, the cameraman.

In June I heard Josh and JJ were planning something BIG. What, exactly? I did not know. Where? India…maybe. At the time, JJ was in D.C., working at National Geographic Television. Josh was in Seward, Alaska, working a variety of jobs; tugboats, construction, you name it. I was in Duluth, Minnesota, fighting wildfires and working as a freelance journalist. They said they wanted to go on an adventure and make another movie. They didn’t know any specifics, besides that it was going to take place in India, they had never been to India before, neither of them spoke Hindi, and they needed money. They also needed somebody that could hold a camera and tell a story. That’s where I come in, I guess. I don’t speak Hindi, and I don’t have much money.

JFK International to Mumbai via Abu Dhabi

Four months later, we are all in New York City, committed to fly to Mumbai tonight on a scout. “Scout,” I’m told, means to “go to the glacial headwater of The Ganges River, and let it guide us to unique stories.” We are going to immerse ourselves in one of the most culturally diverse and populated countries in the world—filming what we can—with the hopes of returning to eventually make a feature film. We have one-way tickets, malaria pills, and Fortuna’s wheel is spinning wildly.

Bottom line: We’re off! And we don’t know what is going to happen…

We’ll see you in India!

—Dave Costello

Departure is Imminent

One full year after premiering Paddle to Seattle at the Port Townsend Film Festival we’ve been fortunate to watch the film prosper over the past 12 months. This included 2 national broadcasters carrying the film (NBC Universal Sports and Outside TV), several regional TV broadcasts on PBS affiliates, thousands of DVDs sold, 14 domestic and international film festivals awards, and international TV deals as well. Still there’s no time to revel in the past, life is far too short for that.

Screening of Paddle to Seattle at Explorers Club HQ in NYC

The third instillation from Dudes on Media is already underway. Next week Josh, JJ, and a cameraman, Dave Costello, will travel to India for a 6-week scout of the sacred Ganges River. The Ganges, or Ganga as it’s called in India, stretches from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal—carrying with it the stories of more than 400-million Indians. They believe the river is more than a body of water but also a god. The river also hosts a litany of complicated problems: volume shortages, extreme disease, and is perhaps the most polluted river on the planet. This all against the backdrop that India is at a crossroads. India has more billionaires than any country in Asia, and their economy is experiencing radical growth. How will the Ganga carry on?

Our goal is to take our humorous adventure storytelling out of Alaska and tell the story of the Ganga. The river has fascinated us for years, captivating in her inescapable beauty, we want to experience her and bring the stories back in another film.

Truth be told we’ve never been to India, Josh’s only international travel is Canada. For that we feel it imperative that we scout the river before committing to it’s length.

This blog will be the voice of the project. Soon it will be receiving a glitzy face-lift as well; find updates here and special updates on The Outside Blog.

More TV Time

Dear Friends,
We’re coasting down the wave of our first national broadcast for “Paddle to Seattle” and our freshman film “Pedal to the Midnight Sun”. We have seen a healthy boost in DVD sales and new members to our facebook and twitter groups!

We’ve got two more major “Paddle to Seattle” broadcast coming up through PBS Affiliates in Minneapolis and Seattle! If you’re in the Twin Cities or Western Washington/British Columbia you’ll soon be able to tune in. For those of you outside these areas Seattle PBS KCTS9 will be streaming, for free, the full film during December on

In the Twin Cities

tpt2 Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 10:30pm

tpt2 Monday, November 15, 2010 at 4:30am

tptLIFE Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 10:00pm

tptLIFE Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 4:00am

Seattle and Vancouver and surrounding area

kcts9 Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 10:00p

There will also be several additional broadcasts, check your local listings.
We’ll also be hosting a 2-hr pledge drive from Seattle in the spring, stay tuned!

All the best and thank you for following!

A Photo Update

Special thanks to The Moorings for partnering to make this television event possible. A world leader in providing yacht charters, The Moorings share our vision for exploring the globe, and reaching incredible destinations.

Nationwide Television Premiere

Dear Friends,

It’s been over a year since we premiered our film at the Port Townsend Film Festival. Now, it’s with great honor that we’re announcing the nationwide television broadcast of our two films! “Pedal to the Midnight Sun” and “Paddle to Seattle” will both air throughout the week on NBC Universal Sports as part of their ADVENTURE WEEK! We’d be honored if you tuned it, told a friend, or perhaps both(:

Here are the show air dates and times (please note: all times are in EST).

Paddle to Seattle 10/12/2010 8:00 PM
Paddle to Seattle 10/13/2010 12:00 PM
Paddle to Seattle 10/15/2010 12:00 AM
Paddle to Seattle 10/15/2010 4:00 PM

Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/12/2010 12:00 AM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/12/2010 4:00 PM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/13/2010 10:00 PM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/14/2010 2:00 PM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/16/2010 9:30 PM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/17/2010 1:30 PM
Pedal to the Midnight Sun 10/20/2010 11:30 AM

Stay tuned to emails from Dudes on Media. Very soon the dudes will depart for India to packraft the length of the Ganges River.

Thank you!

J.J. Kelley and Josh Thomas
Dudes on Media
“It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.”
– The Seattle Times

A Photo Update

2009 Port Townsend Film Festival

“Paddle to Seattle: Journey through the Inside Passage,” premiered on the Olympic Peninsula before two sold-out crowds of 350, and 150. Our feature documentary won the Audience Award. All three filmmakers Ben Gottfried, J.J. Kelley, and Josh Thomas were able to attend.

Read about the visit

See photos on Facebook