Jeff Apel is a happy — and humbled — man.
| Lucas & Jeff Apel
When Apel, a Martin resident, put together a DVD entitled “The Journey Begins,” his intention wasn't to make anyone famous or garner any awards. His goal for the video "was our desire to come up with a resource that could help introduce young people to the outdoors and create an interest for them to start exploring it in their own way."
“The Journey Begins” was produced by Jeff and his wife, Esmeralda's, new production company, Straight Arrow Productions LLC. Jeff began filming the DVD in June 2006 and ended in January 2009. Editing and producing the 92-minute video concluded last June.
The video features Jeff and Esmeralda's son, Lucas, who was 11 when filming began, bagging his first whitetail deer, which he shot from the ground using a recurve bow. It also includes a world champion archer giving Lucas advice on making the pressure shot, beautiful scenery, wildlife footage, professionally produced songs by Jim Bowman and an interview with Linda Ringer from the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Apel said "The Journey Begins" was the first video of its kind devoted to youths. He entered the DVD in two national competitions, the DV Awards and the Telly Awards.
On Dec. 14, the Apels were notified by mail that the DV Awards had selected "The Journey Begins" as a winner in the Fall 2009 DV Awards competition.
"We were very excited and really humbled," Apel said. "I don't know how many entrants they had, but it is an international competition. This was the first project we ever did, so we didn't have any expectations that we were going to get an award. We're very gratified that we actually got something for this. We were really blown away.
"MovieMaker Magazine listed (the DV Awards) as a good thing to enter, and winning an award is a good thing if you want to promote your video."
Apel said he had received "a lot of nice comments" from people regarding the thousands of hours he spent in the field shooting wildlife footage for the DVD, so he decided to take a stab at some national publicity.
"There are a lot of interesting things to see in this DVD," Apel said. "Even non-hunters have remarked that they like to sit back and enjoy that portion of the video. We had gotten some really nice comments, so we said let's go ahead and enter and see what happens. It was flabbergasting to get that (DV Awards) letter."
Apel entered "The Journey Begins" in the long format nature/wildlife category.
"We are overwhelmed by this honor and will be receiving a beautiful acrylic sculpture and certificate in recognition of the achievement," Apel said.
The DV Awards is an international competition celebrating outstanding creative and technical achievements in the emerging world of digital video production.
The DV Awards website says, "From independent films, commercials, corporate communications and industrial videos to 3D animation, special effects and event videos, dozens of categories will be recognized. With the advent and increasing affordability of digital video, a rising number of outstanding productions are not being produced in multimillion dollar film and television studios, but in small desktop studios, manned by a few determined and creative individuals. The DV awards were created to honor these individuals and their accomplishments."
Apel also entered the DVD in three different categories in the Telly Awards competition. The winners are to be announced in the next month or so.
"We entered it in the outdoor category as a general category," Apel said. "We also entered it for cinematography and use of music, which were subcategories under that nature in wildlife category."
The Telly Awards was founded in 1978 to honor excellence in local, regional and cable TV commercials. Non-broadcast video and TV program categories were soon added. The Telly is one of the most sought-after awards by industry leaders, from large international firms to local production companies and ad agencies. The Telly Awards features more than 200 separate categories.
Last year's Telly Awards received more than 13,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents.
For more information on "The Journey Begins" call Straight Arrow Productions at 419-340-3013 or visit www.straightarrowproductionsllc.com. A trailer of the DVD is on the website.
The $20 DVD can also be purchased at Reloaders One-Stop, 3401 Woodville Rd. in Northwood or at Miller's New Market in Genoa.
"Sales have been OK," Apel said. "We're not setting the world on fire, but the sales have been steady. We're hoping things will pick up once we get a little more recognition."
"The Journey Begins" is also featured on the NRA website www.nrahuntersrights.org.
"They wrote a real nice article about it," Apel said. "We also had a review done by Bowhunter Magazine, which did a real positive review. It's starting to get a little momentum, which is very helpful."