Renan Ozturk’s recent adventures have taken him around the world for Disney+, climbing the cliff walls of Tepui for National Geographic and scaling remote Alaskan peaks for Greenwich Entertainment. The director/photographer/fine artist that brought us the feature films ‘MERU’ and ‘SHERPA’ takes TV viewers and his million plus IG followers around the world, showing us not only how special it all is, but what we can achieve as humans when we put our minds to it. In addition to his doc and feature work, Ozturk directs commercials and branded content out of Beverly Hills, California based CoMPANY Films.

Renan underplays how busy he’s been, but admits many of his recent projects came together all at once. “It’s always impossible to predict when these expeditions and projects will come together,” says Ozturk. “They are the result of a lifetime of being curious and developing stories that are meaningful and it’s been quite the coincidence that a number of them have coalesced these last few years, even within the pandemic.” 

For Disney+ Ozturk directed EarthMoods, a TV series of arresting, colorful terrestrial images. Ozturk takes viewers over blue glaciers, arid deserts, lush rain forests and pulsating metropolises, propelled by a calming soundtrack. For the NatGeo doc, ‘THE LAST TEPUI,’ Ozturk brings us to the high, seemingly insurmountable plateaus in the Amazon while following a climber’s quest and one scientist’s mission to catalog the region’s amazing biodiversity. Ozturk also recently finished another doc ‘SANCTITY OF SPACE,’ paying homage to world-class outdoor photographer Brad Washburn by retracing some of his excursions to Alaska’s most majestic peaks.

Of the group, Ozturk believes his trip to Tepui represented the biggest on-location challenge. “The Tepui expedition for Nat Geo/Disney+ was one of the hardest to access since humans had never been there and we didn’t know if it was possible in the first place,” he says. “It’s the “real life” landscape for the Disney movie ‘UP.’ The cloud forest we traversed was the culmination of a bush plane ride, a dugout canoe river mission and weeks of jungle hiking. We discovered so many new species of frogs just in our short time there. The biodiversity was off the charts, which gave us so much hope for the planet… to see that such places still exist. This was one case where the Guyana government was also supporting these conservation efforts.”

Ozturk admits that before each adventure there is always a wild journey on the way. He adds, “This past summer we were on a 4-month expedition for National Geographic and Disney, sailing from Maine to Alaska across the northwest passage in the arctic.  We were in a small 47-foot fiberglass boat, which is pretty uncommon for this kind of ice ridden voyage, so the roadblocks were many. The biggest fear is hitting ice and having the boat sink in the arctic waters. At one point the sea ice came in and trapped us. We basically lost 2 weeks trapped in the ice fighting to save the boat from being destroyed every day while also trying to film and tell the story… none of the best adventures come easy.”

Because of Ozturk’s role as director, photographer and fine artist, he always has to pack carefully for each adventure. But surprisingly, it’s not his main priority. “Honestly, my personal items are last to prioritize,” he says.  it’s much better to focus on the tools to tell the story at hand, trying to bring the latest and greatest technology from camera partners. I normally try to bring a hand sewn sketchbook and raw canvases for some level of art and language learning but these days I would easily sacrifice every creature comfort if it meant elevating the story we are telling. I always fight to the death to bring the ‘paintbrushes’ for the cinematography to shine.”

One thing Ozturk knows for sure, is what story he wants each of his BIG ADVENTURES to cut through the clutter and be memorable. “We only get jaded when the images are flat with no backstory,” says Ozturk. “The true goal is to bring these arresting images together with powerful stories that go much deeper than quick click bait. If we can hold ourselves accountable to a certain level of depth to our “pretty pictures” they will never fade into the over-saturated sea of pixels that are out there.

Renan is currently off the grid for the next forty days, working on his next big adventure.