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‘Curiously Adirondack’ puts out 4th season

BLOOMINGDALE — First-grade plays are not your typical meeting place for entrepreneurs. One might imagine a more likely setting to be a factory-ceiling coffee shop or an art show opening, with artisanal cheeses decorating small, round tables. But “Curiously Adirondack” started with a showing of Josh Clement’s video of his son’s elementary school play.

“I thought this was really well done, and I immediately wanted to work with this guy,” Edward Kanze said.

Kanze and Clement are co-creators of the web series “Curiously Adirondack,” which explores the wacky and wild of the area. Their videos have featured moose, a local sawmill and the history of Native Americans on this land. They have just started releasing their fourth season.

The two, both residents of Bloomingdale, are a contrasting duo. Kanze describes himself as an outdoorsy type and a generation older than Clement. He is a naturalist, an author and an outdoor guide. He had aspirations of being the next David Attenborough, a personal hero of his.

Clement is younger — hair like the night that clashes with Kanze’s moon-colored mane. He has two kids in the Saranac Lake High school, and used to own the bar that is now Bitters & Bones. He also plays music and loves The Beatles — something Kanze and Clement share.

Their two styles and strengths differ as well. Kanze is the naturalist and the writer. Clement is the tech-savy wizard who throws together the hours of footage. They say it works, and now, years later, they’re still standing, still producing content.

It has been almost five years since the first episode of the series was ever released, and the two have enjoyed diving into the obscure and overlooked aspects of the region, but starting the series and keeping it afloat has been a constant struggle.

A national PBS grant first gave the idea legs. It was a matching grant, meaning that every dollar they raised would be matched with money from the grant. Through an Indiegogo page asking for donations they were able to raise almost $18,500. In 2018, however, while funding their third season, the two of them were able to draw in only a little over $7,000. Clement said that although they drew in far less in 2018 than in 2014 on Indiegogo, the total amount raised through other methods of procuring donations came to about the same, which he says is around $25,000. Clement said the difference in the two campaigns stems from increased use of online donation sites like Indiegogo.

“The first time I saw on Facebook someone saying, ‘Donate to this campaign,’ I thought, ‘It’s over for the creative people,'” Clement said.

So many people now have donation campaigns that Clement believes not as much is being donated to individual campaigns than when these services started several years ago. He also said many people prefer to donate in person or with checks rather than online, as one’s credit card information could be stolen.

This year, Clement and Kanze are sponsored by Adirondack Health, Guide Boat Realty, High Peaks Hospice and more. The internet has also helped draw in other sponsors. After sending a message to an online writing group he is a part of, Kanze received a message from someone at Scuba & H2O adventures magazine, asking if the magazine could be a sponsor. The watersports magazine from the West Coast also covers national and international news.

Kanze and Clement said they don’t enjoy asking for money. They would rather film, edit and upload. They hope word of mouth will be enough for their content in the future. But they do work on bringing in more views by finding groups that would be interested in their content.

One example involves their first episode of the third season, “Going ‘Ollywood:’ How A Modern Adirondack Sawmill Produces Old-Time Forest Products.” It’s about a scientist in Bloomingdale who runs a sawmill that makes rustic building material. Clement reached out to a Facebook page with 1.3 million likes called Woodworking Enthusiasts and said they might be interested in the content. The video, on all platforms and websites it is available, has around 50,000 views, according to Clement.

“That’s an organic takeoff without money. It’s like luck,” Clement said.

Either before or after the weeks of shooting, Clement looks to see if there are any special groups that are interested in the topics they cover. So far their videos have reached all around the globe. Some of their videos have even been watched in the Maldives, according to Google Analytics.

“We don’t have millions of viewers, we have thousands, but it’s a growing audience,” Clement said.

Their videos are around seven minutes long each. Each takes approximately three to four weeks to shoot and edit. Typically, they do two days of shooting. The first is to do interviews, and the second is to shoot action and scenes, like wood being chopped up or a boat floating down a river.

“We like to shoot from the hip a little, and it gives our videos a bit of a spontaneous feel,” Clement said.

The two will come up with an idea for a video and then over the coming weeks mold it into its finished form with a script and then edits, according to Kanze. The hours of raw footage are trimmed by Clement who hands it off to Kanze who watches it and tries to write a script from it.

The first two episodes of the fourth season have already streamed. They are titled The First Adirondackers Parts one and two. With the help of Paul Smith’s College and SUNY Potsdam professors and students, as well as John Fadden of the Six Nations Indian Museum, Kanze and Clement look at the history of Native Americans and how long they’ve actually been in the Adirondacks, which is an incredibly long time. Each Wednesday, over the next three weeks, the latest episode will be released on their YouTube page. The remaining episodes will look at OK Slip Falls, Ampersound music store owner Mark Coleman and Adirondack Health’s birthing team. There will also be a free screening of the new Curiously Adirondack episodes that will be open to the public at Saranac Village at Will Rogers at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17.

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