Filmmaker Converts Sprinter Van into Mobile Studio to Create Adventure Travel Films

Hey, I'm Levi Allen.

I'm an adventurefilmmaker.

This is Florence, the adventure van.

The idea of living and traveling in a vehicle and kind of having this likeadventure platform that you could take places definitely came from when I was akid.

My dad had a VW Westfalia van and we'd take that on surf trips.

My firstkind of adventure vehicle was the classic small pickup truck and the car, but the ideal in my head was always moving towards like a larger van, expedition platform.

For me the value of a vehicle has always been, “where can yougo and what can you do with it?” Was kind of searching for about a year, stumbled on some small used car dealership.

I'd had just enough cash tobuy the van.

The first like six months that I lived in the van was just like bare cargovan with like some plywood and a sketchy foam mattress.

I realized this dream Ihad of like outfitting it to perfection was not actually conducivefor what I was trying to do at that time just make a film so I had tosimplify my vision.

Make it sort of accommodating, but a majority of thetime's going to be spent outside of it anyway.

It's going to be the home base solet's just be okay with how it is right now and be grateful for a roof over myhead and move on from there.

Okay so my van is a 2004 MercedesSprinter.

It's the longest wheelbase and highest height model.

One of my actualfavorite upgrades of the van that I've done so far, one of the most expensive ones, was actually to the outside and that's these knobbier BFG KO2 tires I put on.

They'rekind of a little bit overkill for a van but it helps make up for how much thisvan doesn't do well off-roading, but I like taking it up like mountain roadsand stuff like that.

So in stage one of the van I was living in the van inVancouver and I needed it to be as stealth as possible, but now the van iskind of moving into stage two of its life where I'm using it kind of onadventure productions and I'm not living in cities as much so I'm kind ofgetting ready to morph it more into where it's more obvious that it's anadventure rig.

So I'm thinking about putting some windows in it, thinkingabout giving it a paint job, a roof rack, and all those kind of things, but that'skind of further down the road.

Right now it's still kind of in a bit of a stealthmode where it's hard to tell someone lives in it.

What I like about this is right when Iopen the door I try to have all the bags that I want to access for filming withinarm's reach of kind of the door here because I found I was getting in and outa lot when I had the gear further back into the van.

So I try to keep the mostnecessary filmmaking stuff kind of as close and within arm reach.

Each one oflike my bags I try to make sure that oh people are going to hate that Idon't have lens caps on but, oh well.

Yeah I try to just kind of keep everything inthe same places and that just really helps keep things organized, but thenalso here this is where I, it's actually it's a, I mean it's a cooler, but Ikeep my food in it so this is also where I'll kind of take this out and cook offit.

This is a table that folds in the middle and changes height.

Often whatI'll do is leave this here in the van kind of up against the wall here so Ican prep my camera gear inside.

Underneath in back against the wall I'vegot my inverter, which is just a 750 watt inverter.

Back here I've just got twogolf cart batteries that are isolated from the main battery.

One day I'll getsolar, but that day is not today.

In here I just have like basic slacklining gearand things like that.

I've got ropes around and in the van, whichcomes surprisingly helpful especially if you ever get the van stuck.

The wallskind of look sort of finished and I essentially just took slats off palletsand just like fastened them to the wall.

This is super bare-bones purely just forthe aesthetics of making it look slightly finished and I'm a big fan ofthe cabin vibe.

My dream's to have like that cedar tongue-in-groovethat's become a little bit trendy with van stuff.

I just love the way it looksand I think it looks like a cabin, but if we look on the roof or anything likethat like it's I just really threw it together in about a week and I'msurprised it's kind of lasted this long.

Over here just like a really basic lightLED strip that I threw up in there.

Kind of up here on the bed areawe've just got like a six inch foam mattress that is about a queen size.

Likethis is where I have my clothes just in a duffel back here.

That's where I keepmy clothes.

This is one of my camera bags that I take out.

It's really nice to havea place for everything to go and this is kind of like the generic catch-allbecause sometimes you just need a place to put thingsbecause when you start driving stuff just goes everywhere in the van.

It'slike super basic in the sense that there's no shelving, there's no anythinglike that.

Definitely the dream one day is to kind of have those shelves at thisheight all around and add a bit more like kind of permanent storage areas, butfor now it's been serving me really well to just like have everything in likecases like this.

So stuff like my monopod and tripods and things like that thatI'm using all the time, these don't necessarily like have a place so theykind of get just left around so there's like stuff like my motion controltime-lapse ladder like it's fantastic but it's kind of a pain in the butt topull in and store somewhere so I often will just put it on the ground here.

Things like my hiking poles.

And then up here we've got upgraded captain chairsof some kind that I pulled out of just an SUV in the record lot.

Someone madethis for me, gave it to me.

I always say life's better when you make stuff.

I alsogot my sailboat.

I really like sailing and this is kind of like my land yachtso I like picturing it that we're going on some sailing adventures.

So the backis the part that I'm most embarrassed about it's my messy garagebut I put in this door, off one of the Sprinter vans in an auto wrecker.

I gotone with a window because my other door was bent and janky.

Inside here, this iskind of just where the catch-all of everything goes.

The bed structure itselfis just a basic 2×4 frame raised off the side ledges of the van and then kind oflike anchored in through the walls.

My favorite sport to do myself is actually mountainbiking, being able to carry bikes inside the van is pretty important to me.

I lefta bit of a space in-between where the bed ends and where the end of the van isbecause I thought I might want to prop bikes up in here.

I'm realizing I don'tdo that as much as I thought I would so I might actually move the bed back inthe next version of the build.

The dream would be to have like a big drawer thatcould pull out on this side and then have like a water tank and kind of otherthings on that side but just haven't gotten there yet.

We don't realize but we're likeconstantly telling ourselves stories about our own life about what we can andcannot do, where we came from and the opportunities that are ahead of us.

Tryto find out what those are so that way you can actually challenge them becauseonce you like see a different way of going about it, it's weird to say it, butit like makes the hardships fun like suffering is completely optional.

Hardships, barriers in life, conflict, all that stuff is all a guarantee.

Everylittle piece of that like you don't have control over those things, but sufferingthrough them and like just drudging through them, that's totally a choice.

I don't feel the right to tell someone else that they have to change theirperspective, but I truly just feel that suffering's optional.

Hardships are aguaranteed.

You can just find so much joy in overcoming them and that's like somuch fun.

There's something like really liberatingabout knowing what the worst case scenario is and like visualizing that in your mind, keeping that aware as you're trying to like make these decisions in your life.

And for me some of those nights spent in the van sleeping on the cold metal floorof the van and I just remember some of those nights of just feeling like if thisis the worst like this isn't so bad.

That just like changed my perspectiveentirely where I just felt so grateful to have a tube of metal to sleep in andthat just like has shifted the entire perspective of how I'm making decisionsfor the future.

I just know if everything goes to crap I can just sleep in a vanout on a forest service road.

I can hit reset.


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