The Road Less Driven

I came across Andrew, creator of The Road Less Driven, on Jalopnik where I come across many others that write and film interesting things – all car-related obviously.

Andrew has some very cool videos here.. https://www.youtube.com/user/cohorts2006/featured

Here’s more about Andrew and the Road Less Driven.

Torque Affair (TA):  What was your first car ever?
Andrew:  It was a 1991 Legacy Sport Sedan 5spd, taught myself how to drive stick by just doing it. The shell of that car is currently in Vermont awaiting a full restoration as is my sister’s which is an automatic 91 Legacy Sport Sedan.

I learned how to work on cars out of necessity, had a ’94 Legacy LSi wagon, ’95 LS wagon, ’02 Impreza Wagon, ’08 WRX and currently ’06 S4 Avant.

Favorite car I’ve ever driven is my friend’s 991 Carrera with the C7 Vette coming in a VERY close second followed by a ’72 Firebird 455SD.

Torque Affair (TA): So, tell us a little about yourself.
Andrew: I went to University Of Nevada Reno right out of high school in Vermont (where I grew up), studied journalism for a year and then decided to take time off to focus on my snowboard career and made two independent snowboard movies, something I’d wanted to do since I first picked up the sport.  It was a completely different landscape and honestly, I grew up in a really small town, just moving to California and making those movies felt like success to me.

After that first year off though I knew I wanted to go back to school and study filmmaking, all aspects of it. I went back to Vermont, went to school in Burlington but it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I was lucky to have a really amazing group of teachers in high school that instilled a healthy desire to get out of one’s comfort zone and though I love my home state, it just felt too easy. So I applied to a bunch of film schools, got denied by many of them because my grades were pretty shit. I got accepted to Columbia College of Hollywood in Tarzana, CA aka. “The Valley”, visited LA, had a blast and decided it was gonna work for me. I’m still here 6 years later so I guess it was a good call.

TA: So are you a filmmaker?
Andrew: I’ve always had a wild imagination and at this point I’m not sure if I’m a filmmaker who loves cars or an car guy who loves filmmaking but thanks to the internet, I don’t think I’ll have to choose any time soon.

TA: How did you transition from film school to filming cars?
Andrew: My first real gig out of film school was directing web review spots for Auto Trader, that gave me quite a bit of experience with how the industry works, I attended my first auto show that year and quickly realized that the automotive industry is actually pretty small. I had already been blogging for a couple years and would write car related posts from time to time but wasn’t wholly focused on automotive. I really admire the website GearPatrol and was essentially trying to do what they do but by myself. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was going to work my way into an early grave if I tried to keep going at that pace so I began to focus on the automotive content.

Shortly after that I was chosen to participate in Ford’s “Fiesta Movement Remixed” and that opened a couple new doors. Nothing like being handed the keys to a Fiesta ST for six months and delivering a piece of content each month in exchange.

Through the Fiesta Movement I began to understand more about the direction that automotive content was heading in and thought that there was an opportunity there. So when I went to the LA Auto show last year I interviewed brand reps and pitched them on the concept that would eventually become The Road Less Driven.

At the time I was setup to be a contributor to The Motoring Journal but that ended up being a dead end in terms of the kind of content I wanted to be producing. I knew I wanted to have a YouTube channel where I could put out short pieces inspired by the “soul” of the car in addition to reviews that focus on how the vehicle fits your life vs. the by the book, numbers approach.

TA: Ah, so that’s how Road Less Driven started?  Can you talk more about that?
Andrew: I launched The Road Less Driven and here were are in October with me having had a bit of front page success thanks to guys like Tom McParland, Matt Hardigree and Travis Okulski at Jalopnik. The funny thing is that I’ve never met any of these guys and they really have no reason to support me other than that I apparently have a small shred of talent in the writing department.

It’s a trip really because the things that I love most in this world, telling stories and beautifully crafted products intersect in the automotive community. I’m so lucky that technology is where it is because I don’t think I would have survived the old model of working at a magazine for years and years before getting to review cars.

Today if you’ve got an iPhone you can go out and make a car review video and if it’s good, it’ll get traction. It really doesn’t matter what the quality of the actual video is, it just matters that people watch it.

TA: You have another site “This Nice Life” – what’s that all about?Andrew: This Nice Life was the first blog I started back in 2009 and it’s been a constantly evolving thing. I’ve never considered myself “a blogger” but rather someone who just enjoys writing and sharing content via the web. Currently I’m focusing all my energy on The Road Less Driven but I still find time to share things on This Nice Life. I’ve actually always enjoyed interviewing friends as part of my ongoing series “Hard Hitting Investigative Journalism” and I have a pretty interesting piece coming out soon with Daniella Grace Almedia. You’ll want to keep an eye out for that, Google her name, you’ll see why.

TA: So what’s next in your future?
Andrew: I can only hope that the future holds more opportunities to work with interesting people and the ability to speak to a broader audiences. The reason that I’m in this business is not for money or notoriety or access to amazing vehicles. I’m doing this because if I don’t I will certainly go crazy with all the ideas rattling around my head, just dying to get out.

I write when I have something to say, take a photograph when I see something to save and make films when I have something to share. Of course all of these are interchangeable and that’s the beauty of each medium. If I want to write a collection of short stories based on my many trips across the US I can do that because I have a blog to share them on. If I want to print a coffee table book comprised of images of all the cars I’ve photographed in my travels, I can do that. And if I want to make a film about car culture in the 21st century, how forums, blogs and YouTube have connected a huge chunk of the population, I can do that too.

I really believe anything is possible in this day and age. If you can’t afford to do something you want to do, find a way to do it at no cost for a little while and if you’re good, somebody will take notice and they just might give you the support you need to go bigger.

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