Lisa de Speville’s FEAT

Lisa de Speville

The founder and presenter of FEAT and www.ar.co.za

FEAT, short for Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks, is coming to Johannesburg in October.

We asked Lisa why she started it and where she wants FEAT to go:

Why did I start FEAT?
There were a few things that led to the creation of FEAT, outside of my personal participation in adventure racing and ultra running and my friendships with adventurers. I’ve been watching TED Talks for many years and only rarely do they have an adventurer on stage. I’ve thought many times, “How cool would it be to have a TED Talks-like evening but only with adventurers”.

Then, this time two years ago, I was following Pierre Carter’s adventure at Red Bull X-Alps, which is a non-stop 860km mountain trekking and paragliding race through the Alps. I couldn’t believe that outside of friends and family not a soul knew that this was going on. That was the next seed that really put across how publicity around adventurers and expeditions is so neglected. And yet, tell anyone about a guy running across Provinces, a woman who has circumnavigated the country, a solo row across an ocean and people are captivated and inspired.

I approached a few companies offering my publicity and writing services to get out publicity about the adventure athletes that they sponsor; not one fish bit. I figured that if you’re putting thousands of Rands of sponsorship towards athletes you may as well get some publicity out of your spend?

And then, in May last year, I was running with a friend, Deon Braun, the editor of Go Multi Magazine at Suikerbosrand and I mentioned my idea. Without hesitation he said,”Go for it! I’ll give you support from the magazine”. I emailed a few adventurers I knew and they replied within 24 hours to say, “Count me in” and with amazing support from Biophys, Buff, Capestorm and Hi-Tec the first FEAT event took place in Jo’burg five months later.

Where do I see FEAT going?

My first step was to create the FEAT Talks platform. Supporting this is the website, which posts news of adventurers, their expeditions, where they are and who is doing what. The presentations are all recorded and they’re available online for people to watch. The videos are cool, but being there, in the theatre, is way, way better. It truly is a magical evening. Partnered with this are the obligatory Facebook and Twitter feeds.

New addition is the FEAT Award, which is a cash award of up to R10,000 to contribute towards making someone’s adventure happen. I’ve only received three application to date; entries close end-August.  I’m looking for interesting, different and creative.

The next phase is a FEAT Film Festival, a celebration of adventure-themed films from two minutes to a full-length feature made in South Africa, by South Africans or featuring a South African. A number of South African films have won awards abroad, but with little to no recognition here. The Film Festival should also help to stimulate and encourage the making of adventure films in SA. Linked to this are filmmaking workshops. I’ve been sitting on all of this for a few months it is really a matter of timing and funding to make it happen.

Sponsorship is obviously a big factor. It costs a small fortune to present FEAT; venue, AV, videography, photography, flying in and hosting speakers… it all adds up quickly. Without the support from Black Diamond, Capestorm, Hi-Tec and 32Gi, the ticket prices would be hellva expensive and FEAT would not be feasible. There are so many other elements I’d like to do and include it is just going to take time. FEAT is not quite a year old so I have just got to hold back those horses.

Thanks Lisa, we wish you all the best!

Make a date for an evening of seven-minute talks by nine speakers in the expedition and adventure sports genres.
Date: Thursday, 6 October 2011
Venue: The Alexander Theatre, 36 Stiemens Str, Braamfontein
Secure, undercover parking available in the Liberty Life building (corner Ameshof and Melle Streets). Entrance on Melle Str. R10.00 fee. Limited on-street parking is available outside the theatre. Security guards employed by FEAT will be on Stiemens and Melle streets, around the theatre, from 18h00 for peace of mind.
Time: Doors open at 18h30. Start at 19h00
Tickets: R140.00. Available from Computicket from Monday, 1 August 2011

Speakers include: Dan Skinstad, Gerard Finnemore, Grant Baker, Kim van Kets, Kobus Bresler, Ross Tucker and Simon Gear speaking on the topics of first time expeditions, post-expedition psychology, big-wave surfing, multidiscipline circumnavigation, microadventures, endurance sports science and adventure meteorology. A list of speakers, their talk topics and bios is available on the FEAT website.

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