Eco Voice Q & A: Matty Hannon, Director, THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA.

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Matty Hannon, Director, THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA.


Matty Hannon is a regionally based (Byron Bay, Australia) director with experience producing and directing short documentaries in challenging environments across 6 continents. He runs a small, multi-award winning production company called Thunderbox.

The Road to Patagonia is a stunning, intimate and unflinching series of love letters within a documentary – firstly, a love between two people, and secondly between humanity and the Earth. Ecologist Matty Hannon begins an incredible solo adventure, to surf the west coast of the Americas by motorbike, from the top of Alaska to the tip of Patagonia. But deep in the wilderness – alone with the wolves and the bears – the journeyer’s plans unexpectedly fall to pieces. After losing everything, and on the cusp of quitting he meets the girl of his dreams, a permaculture farmer named Heather. Shot over 16 years, the result is an adventurous exposé on the more-than-human-world, offering a physical and spiritual odyssey to better understand our place in Nature.

Matty Hannon, Director, THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA.

To provide insights about the physical and spiritual odyssey to better understand our place in Nature, Tim Langdon, publisher of Eco Voice, had the pleasure of facilitating a Q & A with Matty Hannon, Director, THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA

Q1. What originally ignited your passion to embrace film-making with a focus on Nature? 

While living in the remote Mentawai Islands of Sumatra for 5 years I wanted to find a way to show my family why I had left Australia and fallen in love with ‘the Madagascar of SE Asia’ (there was no phone signal, internet or    social media on the islands). So I picked up a video camera and just started filming. Before I knew it, I had almost a hundred hours of incredible ocean footage, endemic and endangered gibbons, hornbills or pit vipers and the rainforest as a whole. But it wasn’t until I started interviewing the indigenous Mentawai people, and learning about their struggles to maintain their way of life and protection of the rainforest in the face of globalisation, that I became transfixed by storytelling.

Q2. Why do you think Nature is so important? 

Because we are Nature, there is no ‘us’ and ‘Nature’. That dualist perspective is a recent invention fabricated in the last 2% of humanity’s history (The Old Testament and Rene De Cartes) and has been a useful philosophical tool for powerful groups to dominate the living world and maintain their lucrative and extractive practices.

The truth is, in 98% of humanity’s history we have not been anthropocentric people, but biocentric people who revered the living world (think Native American, Australian Aboriginals, ancient Celts and Picts, or anywhere across the world for that matter). Throughout global humanity there was (and still is amongst many people to this day) the recognition that humans are just one strand of the web of life, rather than our modern, blinkered paradigm that places humanity at the apex of creation, with everything below subservient to our needs.

Nature is important, because we are Nature. We will either realise our place in the world and change our unsustainable trajectory, or our societies will collapse, in a similar fashion to the myriad of past civilisations who championed glory and riches over relationships and community.

Q3. What are some examples of the challenges that you faced filming THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA? 

Filming was hard. There was no camera crew at any point – just us – which meant in order for us to get a shot with the two of us in it, we’d need to set up a tripod. We carried all the gear on the back of 2 motorcycles, and later 4 horses. We lived out of a small hiking tent for more than 2 years. The process of filming placed a lot of strain on our relationship too.

But filming was a breeze compared to editing. We had no funding for a couple of years, just a mountain of footage from a 2.5 year journey that had to somehow be reduced to 1.5 hours of a coherent story – it was the gnarliest jigsaw puzzle I’ve ever encountered.

Despite all its challenges, the filmmaking introduced us to inspiring people and their worldviews and gave us purpose during the journey, and now we are getting to share our small story in a way that feels rewarding and meaningful.

Q4.  How important are the networks that you have developed in supporting your passion?

Critical. I support a family through filmmaking now, it’s not just a passion (although storytelling still is my passion). I don’t advertise my work or pay for any marketing, it’s all word of mouth through my networks and their networks. It’s relationships.

Q5. What are some of the physical and spiritual highlights of filming THE ROAD TO PATAGONIA? 

Physical highlights: Arriving on horseback to remote surf breaks with the swell angle, size, wind and tide all aligned perfectly to ride mind-blowingly beautiful waves with not another soul around. Standing on top of the world in the Andes mountains. Surviving in the Alaskan wilderness amongst the bears and wolves. Playing in the bioluminescence in Baja, Mexico. The list goes on and on.

Spiritual highlights: Living with our horses on the beaches, in the forests, in the mountains and the grasslands and tuning into their rhythm of life, and their big heartbeats. An Ayahuasca ceremony in Peru that opened my heart. The delight of a wild patch of berries. The gift of a handful of quinces from a stranger. The epiphany during the editing process as to how to communicate these esoteric ideas and experiences.

Q6. What are your top 3 tips for the wider community to embrace a better understanding and connection to nature?

1. Sit outside, if you can find old growth to sit in, even better. Then listen attentively, as if hunting.
2. Grow food, or at least eat your locally produced foods.
3. Climb walls, get tubed, bag peaks, ride trails, shoot rivers, find stoke.

Q7. How can publications, such as Eco Voice, play their part in promoting a connection to nature?

Keep telling and sharing the inspiring stories, the ones that make your heart fly.


First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.


The lives of two strangers are changed forever when they cross paths on the surfing adventure of a lifetime, discovering love, downshifting and four charismatic horses.


Further screening information and tickets are available here.



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