A Charismatic Camel

Ian Durkin on Finding a Narrative with Like-minded Folks.

Director Ian Durkin doesn’t waste time easing you into his style or story. Camel Finds Water is playful, but lean. When it starts, it’s immediately apparent we’re in a different world. A stylized, super-8 looking world. A man pops up into frame. “This is a story about Trevor Gordon,” a charming narrator says. It’s been 10 seconds, and you’re invested. There’s nothing in this piece, just shy of 9 minutes, that feels unnecessary or unearned.

Camel Finds Water

The Camel coming along. Photo by Erin Feinblatt

Maybe it’s the camaraderie among cast and crew that makes Camel so easy to watch. “Trevor’s a good friend of mine, and we’ve been making films together for the past 8 years or so,” Durkin says. “He always has a project that he’s either thinking on or in the works. It just came to a point where we wanted to make something and he’d always been wanting to make a boat. He had a good lead on the hull of what came to be the Camel.”

Camel Finds Water follows Gordon as he refurbishes the boat with Tosh Clements. The two surfers have dreams of catching a wave in British Columbia- but will the vessel be seaworthy before the rainy season?

You’ll be able to find out in Ottawa Adventure Film Festival’s Mayfair Program A, currently set for an online and in theatre presentation.

To tell the story with his signature style, Durkin says he drew inspiration from favourites Michel Gondry, Warren Miller, and Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer. 

As for the charming voiceover, Durkin says he was drawn to the idea of having “a narrator guide you through the journey.” Tyler Walker is a fellow director and friend of Durkin’s, but this was their first time working together in this capacity. 

“At first he was just going to lay down the scratch voiceover for it, and he was helping editing on the project too,” Durkin says. “When I heard his voice I was like ‘oh, this is perfect. We don’t need to find somebody else, you nailed it… I always tell him he has the golden voice.’”

Camel Finds Water

Photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Walker has become a go-to for Durkin’s voiceovers. He seems to collect people as he goes, building a team to tell adventurous stories with. “I think it’s more fun to work on stuff with friends. There’s a degree of trust,” he says. “And if people feel invested in the project itself, it’s not like they’re just doing it for a cheque, I think it’s always a more rewarding creative experience.”

Don’t be fooled by the film’s breezy tone and rag-tag crew, the stakes behind the story were high. 

“Getting the boat ready to go was a bit of a mad dash towards the end,” Durkin says. “There were a lot of last-minute hiccups that resulted in long nights. Siphoning gas out of the engine because we thought we’d flooded it… the trip got postponed at least a week just due to last-minute stuff… but that’s kind of how every project goes.”

So, after all the twists and turns, how did the Camel find water? You’ll have to watch and find out. For now, here’s Durkin’s personal list of future boat names:

Half Price

Camel Finds Water

Drink in the beauty of The Camel, photo by Jeremy Koreski.

C Q Cumba

Real Fast


Fast Boat

Who knows what aquatic adventures lay ahead?