Pismo twins paddled 3,300 miles. Now they’re making a documentary — but need your help

Ryan and Casey Higginbotham aren’t big on self-promotion.

Over the past four years, the Central Coast natives have paddled 3,300 miles from Alaska to the tip of Baja California — virtually unassisted —and completed their journey void of major sponsorships, all while documenting their experience along the way.

The twins have poured countless hours and dollars into the culmination of their paddleboarding journey, a feature-length independent film titled, “By Hand.”

As it stands, the film is one hour rough-cut, with just a few more steps ahead for it to be fully realized.

But now, along with friend and filmmaker Kellen Keene, who has produced films for Yeti and Patagonia, the brothers are asking for help to bring the film to fruition.

They have raised nearly $50,000 of their $64,000 goal via Kickstarter, which would allow them to enter the film into festivals and seek distribution. The funds will also be used for animation, map design, sound design and music rights, which require hefty fees to secure master and sync licensing.

Ryan says they are hoping to enter the film into major independent film festivals such as the Tribeca and Sundance, as well as smaller ones.

The page includes different price points for donations, ranging from the opportunity to paddle or train with the brothers, to receiving a digital copy of the film once completed.

The nature of Kickstarter fund-raising is that it is all or nothing. If the brothers reach their goal, they will receive the funds and can finish the project. If not, the money is returned to the donors.

There are only six days remaining, but Ryan isn’t worried.

“We’ll make it,” Ryan said without hesitation.

Those words hold the same unwavering belief which carried them through both expeditions, despite broken boards, thirst, food-poisoning and more.

While the Higginbothams had a few gear sponsorships for their trips, including Bark paddleboards and Watershed dry bags, a major sponsor hasn’t materialized.

Ryan says that they have been in talks with various sponsors, and if the right one came along, they would make a deal in order to see the project through.

What’s important to Ryan is that they take time to do it right.

“It’s easy to do a quick cut and throw it up on Youtube,” Ryan said.

The brothers have secured interviews with surfing legend Kelly Slater and mountaineer-film director Jimmy Chin, each of whom are pioneers in their respective fields.

“It’s pretty cool that those guys did that and were willing to talk on it,” Ryan said. “It’s a huge honor.”

Snippets of these interviews can be seen in the ”By Hand” teaser. “You could almost say it’s like summiting Everest for the first time,” Slater says of the twins’ journey in the teaser.

Ryan is taking the summer off of salmon fishing in Alaska — which he had done the past two summers to help fund the Baja expedition — and will stay home to focus on the project. Casey is working as a lifeguard in Oceano. Nearly all of their free time is going into editing the film.

“We’re just rolling with the punches and being humble,” Ryan said.

The fundraiser will end June 21. The page can be found by going to Kickstarter.com and searching “By Hand, The Film” or by following this link.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune