Glenwood native captures adventure, passion for rivers in ‘Liquid’ |

Glenwood native captures adventure, passion for rivers in ‘Liquid’

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paddler Tye Spencer hits whitewater in a scene from "Light in Liquid: a kayak collage of movement and sound," a film made by Glenwood Springs native Adrian Matthew Glasenapp. (Contributed photo)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Adrian Matthew Glasenapp speaks simply and passionately about why he first picked up a video camera.

“I just wanted to make people feel something,” he said.

After four years of filming, it seems the Glenwood Springs native is getting his wish.

His movie, “Light in Liquid: a kayak collage of movement and sound,” is a 55-minute homage to kayaking and the folks who love it. Shot on location on rivers throughout the United States and Mexico, the unique, sometimes ethereal take on sports films is apparently speaking to audiences in the way its creator intended. Recently featured at river fundraisers, it’s raised about $10,000 for different water causes.

So far, it’s also played at a half-dozen film festivals in the United States and Canada and has taken home several awards. Currently, it’s traveling with Banff Mountain Film Festival’s “Radical Reels” tour.

And while Glasenapp, 33, seems proud of the accomplishment, he doesn’t want to come off as “some rad dude who made some rad film,” he said. Though it features him and a few dozen of his paddling buddies, this movie isn’t only about them.

“Recognizing these magical rivers is part of what this film is about,” he said. “They really are the lifeblood of all, of everything.”

He’s felt that way for a long while. Born near the ocean in Santa Cruz, Calif., Glasenapp was raised in Glenwood, a few blocks from the Colorado River. While earning an art degree at Colorado State University, he spent his summers in Glenwood and guided rafting trips down the Colorado. He also dived into kayaking.

In his 20s, Glasenapp took river trips with friends to Costa Rica and on his own to British Columbia. No matter where he was, being in a kayak was a “zen” experience, he said, one where he had to be completely present. Boating also introduced him to gorgeous, remote settings he might not have known otherwise.

When Glasenapp set out to make a film about the experience, he didn’t have a plan ” only a desire to share and help preserve the waters with which he was so enthralled.

“I think that a very large part of conservation is just showing people what is out there in the world,” he said.

Shooting footage began not long after he’d taken a job at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo. (where he still works). He made the movie in fits and spurts, whenever he could. Many a weekend, he’d come home after a 40- or 50-hour work week, just to keep shooting or editing, or finding the right music for a sequence.

Sometimes filming a scene was as easy as stepping out of his boat, he explained, while other times, he’d be hanging onto a slippery cliff and desperately trying to get the right shot. Though he admitted to a “love-hate” relationship with “Liquid,” he never let up on the project ” even after putting more than $10,000 of his own money into it.

“I just had this drive, this insatiable drive to create this thing,” he said.

What he ended up with is part travelogue, part buddy film. Many scenes capture kaying buddies playing around ” and then hurling straight into whitewater. Since several of Glasenapp’s friends helped out with the filming, there’s plenty of footage of Glasenapp himself.

Helmet-cam shots give the audience the stomach-churning sense of shooting the rapids. Contrasting these adrenaline-inducing scenes are several abstract, quiet ones ” rain drops falling onto glass, a small child jumping into a kayak. They’re calm and surreal, and they’re exactly what sets this apart from the adventure film norm.

“It’s the perfect synergy between my passion for adventure and creativity,” said Glasenapp.

“He always was a sensitive soul,” said Sheri Tonozzi, Glasenapp’s mom.

She also half-joked that she wished he’d find “another hobby.”

In one “Liquid” scene, Glasenapp apologizes to her and “all moms everywhere” before shooting off a waterfall.

“I hate that part,” Tonozzi said.

But, she’s a proud of her son’s accomplishment, nonetheless.

“It gives me chills,” she said, of the movie. “It’s really exciting. You just feel like you’re there.”

Terry, Glasenapp’s dad, a local college teacher and filmmaker, recounted a trip he’d taken with his son to the West Coast in the early ’90s. They were searching for “beautiful things,” he said.

As Terry filmed, Glasenapp took stills of the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, the San Juan Islands. Within a week or so, Glasenapp had shot almost five rolls of images ” nearly all that his dad had allotted for the weeks of traveling. It was then Terry Glasenapp realized his son had stumbled onto something that mattered to him.

“It’s so important that we let that voice come out of us ” whatever it is,” said the elder Glasenapp. “I think Adrian has done that with making pictures and making films.”

Though filming wrapped months ago, there’s still work to be done with “Liquid.”

Glasenapp needs to go through red tape to get the movie released on a DVD, and he’ll continue to use the film at river benefits and such.

Yet, that daily sculpting of the movie is forever finished, leaving Glasenapp to reflect on its making.

“I was so inside this film,” he said.

To watch clips or find out more about the film and Glasenapp’s production company, Creative Under Velocity, visit Glasenapp may be reached at