Film transcends extreme sport stereotypes

Film transcends extreme sport stereotypes

CPIT graduate Josh Neilson‘s beautifully shot film offers a very different explanation about why some people willingly base-jump off cliffs, free-dive down into a dark ocean or kayak off waterfalls.

Transcendence, which screens at CPIT on 2 May in DL Lecture theatre at 7pm, is a new style of adventure documentary - thoughtful and creative with a firm grounding in latest extreme sports psychology research.

“People think we are adrenalin junkies but it’s often not the case,” Josh said. “The perception of when the adrenalin rush happens is different to what people imagine. When you are going over a waterfall you are very calm and at the time there is a feeling of control and complete focus – the adrenalin rush happens afterwards. It’s an intense situation but you are focused and aware. It is an amazing feeling to know that you have the skills and preparation to pull it off.”

Josh speaks from experience. “I was asked what I wanted to do when I finished at CPIT (in 2005). A lot of my classmates went into education but I said ‘I want to pack my bags and go kayaking around the world’.”


Thailand, Uganda, California and Zambia, among others, followed. Josh’s passion is expedition style exploring – finding new rivers and new waterfalls, and of course filming the journeys. Any proceeds from early films went to charity to “give something back” for all the adventures; mostly kayaking charities but also the malaria clinic where Josh was treated in Uganda after an expedition on the White Nile.

Seeing the film through to completion is a huge achievement for Josh, a CPIT Outdoor Education graduate who first picked up a camera during his studies to film his classmates’ kayaking adventures.

“I’ve done everything from writing, filming, editing, funding and publicising the film,” Josh said. “I picked up jobs and as soon as I had money I worked on the film.”

Researcher Dr Eric Brymer, Queensland University of Technology psychologist and sports scientist, was delighted to share his research into extreme sports psychology and a number of kayaking related companies have also supported Transcendence.

After the Christchurch screening Josh will embark on the next stage of his adventure - touting his documentary at film and adventure events in California, Brisbane, Colorado and Norway before returning to work filming on the White Nile in Uganda.

Transcendence premiered at Hastings City Art gallery on 13 April.

Catch Transcendence in Christchurch at CPIT on Wednesday 2 May in DL Lecture theatre at 7 – 7.45pm, tickets $15 cash only. Watch the Transcendence trailer at