Black Series Community Spotlights are our chance to tell your stories of adventure. They’re also an opportunity for you to get to know the owners, ambassadors, and friends of Black Series who are out there, right now, taking their off-road trailers to truly wild places. These Spotlights are authentic accounts of explorers and overland go-getters utilizing Black Series campers to assist them in their endeavors.
Harlan Taney // Professional Videographer & Storm Chaser
Black Series Ambassador, Harlan Taney, owns and operate two outdoor film production companies – 4 Corner Film Logistics and the film collective Sandcast Media. In his career as an adventure-film creator he’s produced content for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, REI, CNN, and others.
Harlan grew up outdoors and naturally fell into work as a river guide on the Grand Canyon where he’s guided 180 trips down the river. A side gig running rivers as a competitive whitewater kayaker? Sure. He’s done that, too. After competing and guiding in some of the world’s preeminent outdoor locales, Harlan parlayed his penchant for epic outdoor sports into a career filming the wild places he’d grown to know so well. Before long he’d racked up the aforementioned client list – a who’s-who of iconic brands in the outdoor industry.
Now, he’s a single dad to 9 and 11 year old daughters who are bad ass lil adventurers themselves – skiers, whitewater kayakers, mt. bikers, climbers, aerial artists, you name it. We recently caught up with Harlan to ask him about his most recent project, how the HQ15 off-road trailer has helped his film endeavors, and what, exactly, a day in the life of a storm chaser and adventure videographer actually consists of.
Getting To Know Harlan…
BSC: What does a day in the life of Harlan Taney look like?
Harlan: A day in the life is never boring for me. I am either off on the road with my kids going on adventures, planning/working on our next film project. When home, we make sure to get outside and hit the trails almost daily. I’ve worked hard to build a life where my work and passions overlap significantly, and thankfully I get to do the majority of it with my kids.
BSC: What’s the Monsoon Project? Why do it? How’d it go?
Harlan: The Monsoon project was a 15-day film project, based in Southern Arizona. The purpose was to chase and film lightning by getting as close to the thunder cells as possible before they actually let off bolts. Each day, we would study the weather models and drive sometimes hours across the Southern Arizona Desert to find and capture lightning with highly specialized cameras. One of said cameras is one of only two of its model in existence. The Black Series HQ 15 trailer was our mobile production headquarters while filming. It allowed us to have portable power supplies, make meals on the go between racing from one place to the next (most of the time in the middle of nowhere), and most importantly have shelter from the storms so that we could actively study where the next was going to spawn.
BSC: How did you come to do what you do? What’s the backstory?
Harlan: I was traveling the world as a sponsored expedition whitewater kayaker. This included doing many expeditions to class V rivers and doing multi-week, hundreds-of-miles-long first descents on rivers that have never been run. This is where I first realized a passion for remote film production. I was soon contacted by the Discovery Channel to be on screen talent and to kayak off a 100’ waterfall for one of their programs.
The producers were clueless on how to effectively generate content in these harsh conditions, so the production team brought me onboard to assist. I knew at that moment that there was an unfulfilled niche in remote film production. My decades of experience as both a world expedition traveller and a Grand Canyon River guide provided me the skills required for this. More importantly, I realized as a sponsored, Cliff Bar-eating, dirtbag kayaker that I could get paid for the entire two weeks instead of being paid for one day while risking my life performing in front of the camera. From there, 4 Corner Film Logistics was born and has now evolved into a thriving operation.
The HQ15: Best Features, Adventure Stories, and More…
BSC: Take a deeper dive into your adventures for us. How does your Black Series Trailer enable those adventures?
Harlan: I always strive to be off grid. This is where I thrive. This can mean driving far down remote roads in Baja on vacations, or finding iconic landscapes and settings for film productions. I have searched for years to find a vehicle basecamp solution that can withstand the rigors of where we go. I’ve looked for a rugged camper, an off-road trailer, and nothing I’ve seen tops what Black Series offers. The HQ15 has opened that door for us to have an off-grid basecamp. This trailer allows us to have indoor cover and storage in environments that typically destroy cameras, while also providing solar charging to keep production going.
“The Black Series HQ15 has opened the door for us to have an off-grid basecamp.”
BSC: What’s the most memorable adventure story you have during a trip with your Black Series trailer?
Harlan: We were chasing into a massive building thunder cell. Tight turns in and out of washes make this a road that is hardly travelled. I dropped over a hill and saw our other two vehicles (without trailers) both stopped and trying to figure out how to turn around on a deeply rutted and steep off-piste hill. Once the other two vehicles were able to escape, I began thinking of how to turn myself around and get out there. The storm had shifted and was now approaching overhead. Backing up the hill was not an option.
The only feasible exit was taking a very narrow, old off track that made a tight turnaround through Juniper trees. This however meant dropping down another steep hill. A 180° right hand turn over heavily rutted tracks in the middle of this descent was also required. My truck slowly navigated the ins and outs of the ruts, and by putting us fully sideways on this steep hill, I was able to put the Black Series in tow. At one point we estimated that the trailer was at a 30° sideways angle. This was a move that I would have hesitated to do even in my truck by itself. Yet, the HQ15 performed immaculately with no issue.
BSC: What are your favorite features on your HQ15?
Harlan: There are three features of this off-road trailer that really stand out to me:
The plug and play robust solar and battery charging system. There is no need to stress about finding a charging station if you’re low on battery. The onboard display panel also tells you exactly the state of charge on the system, how many watts of solar are coming in etc. We were pulling a hefty electrical load off it everyday without any issue. Definitely the most well-thought out and efficient charging system I have ever used.
“There is no need to stress about finding a charging station if you’re low on battery. The onboard display panel tells you exactly the state of charge on the system, how many watts of solar are coming in etc.”
The next feature I love is the effortless slide out, outdoor kitchen. I’m really not interested in cooking or being indoors unless it’s absolutely unbearable weather. To pull up somewhere and just slide out a whole prep table, sink and stove is absolutely amazing and the pinnacle of convenience. (Check out our trailer camping recipe for simple cast-iron pizza).
The third feature I would like to highlight is the chassis, suspension and build of the trailer. It is designed to go where we go and caters to our off-grid needs. This off-road trailer offers peace of mind, because we know that it can handle the terrain effortlessly. Wherever we go, the HQ15 lets me focus on my job and enjoy my surroundings.
BSC: In moments of downtime, what’s your go-to form of entertainment while off-road camping? What’s your favorite way to unwind at camp?
Harlan: Probably my favorite way to unwind at camp after a big day of adventuring is to play my guitar while enjoying an ice cold cocktail.
Off-Road Trailer Camping Tips, Dream Destinations, and Future Projects…
BSC: If you could take your trailer anywhere in the world for a week-long off-road expedition, where would you go?
Harlan: I would take my family from our home in Flagstaff, Arizona and drive to Tierra Del Fuego circumnavigating South America. Bring all of our equipment for adventure – kayaks, bikes, skis, paragliders etc but also spend time getting involved in the different communities along the way immersing ourselves into the cultures and landscapes. This obviously isn’t a week long excursion, but honestly a week isn’t enough time for what we really want to go do!
BSC: What is your #1 tip for off-road trailer owners who are setting out for a trip?
Harlan: Respect the natural places you go. Tread lightly and be a steward of those wild-places to help keep them wild.
BSC: What’s next for you?
Harlan: We have a multi-year film project currently happening in Tsegi Canyon on the Navajo Nation. This is an environmental film documenting the efforts to restore the land up this canyon to what it once was before overgrazing completely devastated this treasure. We will be going up into this canyon for a week this fall to film and check our multi-year time lapse cameras we built.
This canyon is closed off to all visitation, and requires special permission from the Navajo families that own the land. Once through the locked gate it is a three-hour 4×4 drive through a place where time stops, back up into a hidden canyon oasis in the desert Southwest that is quite possibly one of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve ever been.
Caravans shown in this post: