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The Point – 10 Years of Project Upland Films

The Point – 10 Years of Project Upland Films

Project Upland celebrates 10 years of filmmaking and the evolution of those who tell your stories.

“I will never have a perfect dog. I will never be the perfect shot. I will never understand everything about Ruffed Grouse. Those layers, for me, are the point. The point is that I can endlessly try and never actually reach that goal. That goal will always be pushed further and further away. That’s the point.”

Founder of Project Upland, A.J. DeRosa

If you had told me back in 2014 that Project Upland would evolve from the random wanderings of a New Englander into an award-winning film series, I would have laughed. As a New Englander, my curiosity was always there, but my worldview was limited to those around me and how they discovered a love for the uplands. I grew up hunting over my father’s Brittanies; in the 1980s, you could still find ruffed grouse regularly in the central parts of New England. Although the seeds were planted then, my true love for the uplands did not fully develop until I pressed record on a camera. With each story I had the pleasure of telling, I found myself more enchanted by the wonderful and complex world of the uplands. Favorite dog breeds, game species, shotguns—it felt like the ultimate “choose your own adventure” book.

This film was presented by:
💥 Kent Cartridge
🧭 OnX Hunt
🦻 Tetra Hearing
🔫 Upland Gun Company

The first film released under Project Upland was called “The Experience,” a story about a New Hampshire native who found love and connection in the grouse woods of New Hampshire, a way to feel closer to those no longer in his life. Not long after, I received a phone call from Tripp Way, who was then the Northeast Regional Director of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS). Over the next couple of years, I traveled more, met Tripp many times in New York, and volunteered for RGS, releasing each film to promote the organization. Things kept growing; my only true goal was to spend more time hunting.

As time went on, the films became more complex and started exploring beyond New England, reaching all over the United States. Project Upland evolved into a website, a purposeful series, and eventually, in 2018, a print magazine. But the essence of this story is about film—the challenges and concepts that evolved to capture the essence of the uplands in its most emotional form: the dog work, the landscapes, the shotguns, and the unique birds that connect us across the globe. New stories emerged, such as the origin stories of European gunmakers, conservation issues, and much more.

New filmmakers came on board. My biggest goal was to mentor a filmmaker not just in film but to become a devoted and obsessed bird hunter. I found that in Kevin Erdvig, and what started as a novel idea snowballed into his journey with his English Setter, Finn, and a never-ending curiosity about this culture. It was crucial that the core filmmaker of Project Upland understood the complexity of the uplands—the dog work, the wide range of subcultures, the pressing conservation issues—and truly felt the weight of each. That’s the only way these stories could truly resonate.

Kevin and I have traveled together for weeks on end, sharing camps, kennels, and theories of life. We have brainstormed on how to film, the next big goal in film, and how to fundamentally tell stories that withstand the test of time. While I have mentored him in the woodsmanship of grouse and woodcock, he has challenged me in film, adding a level of expertise I could not have achieved alone. This growth has been ever-present over 10 years of Project Upland films, enriching my life in ways I can never fully express. We will continue to raise the bar in film, in storytelling, and in what we do. And in our motto: To expose the uplands to the world, capture defining moments, push our passion and culture forward, bring our community closer, to make us feel.

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