How do you film Earth as an otherworldly alien planet?

Andrew Studer is a professional outdoor photographer and filmmaker based in Oregon. He has a passion for capturing and showcasing the beauty of our natural world. He produced “Space to Roam” in 2019. It films an astronaut walking through dramatic and diverse landscapes of an alien planet. The only catch is that these otherworldly landscapes are in fact located in the American Southwest. His film captures the natural beauty of this region’s breath-taking scenery. It stands as a tribute to all those who dedicate their lives to preserving nature. It is a call to protect public lands. We spoke to Andrew to learn more about the behind-the-scenes production of his film. He also described the motivations that led him to create the film.

Where did the idea come from for your “Space to Roam” project?

Back in March of 2019, I had plans to road trip through the American Southwest with one of my good buddies, Kyle Hague. Less than a week before I was to fly out to meet him, I randomly had this question pop into my head: “Can people buy spacesuits?” After a quick Google search to scratch the curious itch, I realized that you in fact could – someone had listed theirs for a somewhat reasonable price. I immediately knew I had to get it for our upcoming road trip in the desert. 

After several visits over the years to the desert, I built up an immense appreciation for all the dramatic and dynamic landscapes of the American Southwest that made me feel like I was visiting an alien planet. Using the spacesuit, I wanted to produce something that directly conveyed how I felt about visiting these “otherworldly” locations. “Space to Roam” is what I ended up with. 

What were some challenges you faced during the project and how did you overcome them?

While having a real, airtight spacesuit lent itself to the realistic appearance of the astronaut, it also became a difficult element to overcome. We quickly realized that filming with the suit in the heat of the desert was far from ideal. Because it was airtight, there was absolutely no breathability. It made it extremely uncomfortable and even unsafe for Kyle to wear for extended periods of time. With my priority keeping Kyle cool, we ended up cutting out the many rubber liners and insulation. Even after all this was said and done, the suit collected surprising amounts of sweat. I owe a lot to Kyle’s tough-it-out attitude and willingness to put up with some crazy idea that I had. 

What future projects are you working on?

As far as personal projects are concerned, I am currently planning to do a second installment of “Space to Roam” in Iceland. I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken several trips out to Iceland and have developed an admiration for its unique landscape. There are so many incredible locations that lend themselves perfectly to the “alien planet” narrative. I couldn’t be more excited to get out and create. Other than that, I am also working on a narrative film in Bhutan.