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Filmmaker with Errington connection sees documentary beamed into space by NASA

Bjorn Stickle’s grandparents live in Errington
(Submitted photo)

Errington holds a special place in the heart of a young man who spent 64 days travelling across Canada and the U.S. to make a documentary which was later beamed into outer space by NASA.

Bjorn Stickle is a Canadian-U.S. citizen who lives in New York, where he studies psychology, but has fond memories of Errington and mid-Vancouver Island.

“I spent summers going there to see my grandparents,” he said. “Going up to Englishman River Falls and riding the ponies in the area, going to Goats on the Roof.”

His documentary, 14,000 Miles, features interviews of dozens of people he met on a 2019 road-trip that saw him drive from Vancouver down to California, then through Texas, eventually making his way to Boston, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Illinois, Wisconsin, Alberta and then back to B.C., where he made stops in Kelowna, Kamloops and Abbotsford before stopping in Errington and Nanaimo.

Stickle set out to interview as many people as he could, from a wide variety of backgrounds, to get their thoughts on various philosophical and religious questions.

“The whole point of it was trying to figure out what their question was and seeing how it connects to my world views,” he said. “And if it could challenge my world view along the way.”

Stickle met a wide array of people including teachers, billionaires, blue collar workers and professors.

“When I would talk to them, I’d have a set of questions I would ask and then by using those questions you’d find out their question,” he said. “Because every person has their own question they’ve thought about.”

His project began on Kickstarter, while he was taking a gap year from school and living in Vancouver, and he was able to raise $2,400 to cover gas and lodging for the trip, but he did not spend a lot of time in hotels. Instead he used his social network to find places to stay.

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He was interested in the different ways people would answer the same question. The more educated a person was, the longer it took them to answer his question. Stickle said he didn’t consider a long answer a bad thing, but did admit, with a chuckle, that they were more difficult to edit.

Although his documentary began as a small Kickstarter project, Stickle managed to catch the attention of an investor while visiting New York City, who paid for large advertisements in Times Square and Vancouver’s Granville Street.

It was through this investor’s connection with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that Stickle’s film ended up being sent into space. Stickle said NASA sends media out to the Voyager satellite to ensure they are still in contact.

Once the film was successfully transmitted, he was surprised to receive an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol Building, at the request of Washington State Senator Patty Murray. Stickle grew up in Bellingham, WA, near the Canadian border. His Canadian father and Norwegian mother met while attending medical school in the U.S.

“The achievements I have received would not have been possible without the help and support from my Errington roots,” Stickle said in a letter to the PQB News.

Stickle completed his film in 2021 and is in discussions with Amazon about streaming it. 14,000 Miles will be screened in a Mount Vernon, WA theatre this September. After the premiere, the documentary will be viewable on his website.

Stickle said he hopes to return to B.C. after completing his education. His goal is to become a clinical psychologist and use his knowledge of film to educate and treat young children.

He is currently working on a new project, which explores world events that happened while he was filming and editing 14,000 Miles, including the war in Ukraine, the Johnny Depp trial and the Chinese housing crisis. He said his goal is to complete the project in 2024.

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Bjorn Stickle received an American flag, flown over the U.S. Capitol Building at the request of Washington State Senator Patty Murray. (Submitted photo)