A Journey to Treefort

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - With his winning smile and shock of unruly brown hair, Zach Voss comes across as everybody's hipster kid brother.

But don't be fooled. This 23-year-old is both a filmmaker and entrepreneur.

Voss operates Retroscope Media out of a warren of offices in a brick building in Boise's historic Hyde Park neighborhood. The office dcor might lean toward minimalist, but that's because Voss runs a lean and mean operation, his staff included.

"One. Myself," he says, grinning.

He's kidding, of course, because even a short film is a marvel of complexity and requires the dedicated effort of a team of creative types, including videographers, costumers and location assistants.

"I depend greatly on my cast and crew," Voss says.

His latest project is a series of online videos promoting the upcoming Treefort Music Fest. Each video builds toward the next, and all center around the festival's symbolic Treefort monster. To hear Voss tell it, his idea was a no-brainer, and was readily accepted by Treefort organizers.

Hunched over his computer, Voss offers a timeline.

"So I wrote a story, cast it, got together with a bunch of other people, so Treefort has a visual component to this year's marketing campaign," he says with a point of pride. Voss says the key to the project's success is that the videos focus on the monster.

It was Voss's job to translate what started as cartoons and sketches into something tangible, if not quite scary. After all, the monster is a rather crude construction of ordinary materials like styrofoam and shoelaces.

"It was important for us to make a creature that looked like it belonged in an Idaho environment," he said.

In other words, both home-grown and home-made.

The narrative of the monster chase, though, is just one aspect of the campaign. There's also the issue of the on-screen titles advertising all the groups who have agreed to appear at Treefort. This is, after all, a series of commercials.

So, how did the filmmaker feel about bold lettering splashed across his carefully-scripted adventures?

"At the end of the day," he says ruefully, "it certainly can be troubling, when you've put so much into polishing dialog, composition of the shot and then slap a big text graphic at the end."

Voss, though, is realistic. The videos are proving popular with fans of the fest. The first one already has had 2,000 hits.

Voss beams when he says that, because while he's building the Treefort brand, he's also building his own. Staring out his window high above the swirling snow, Voss isn't worried about the destination.

He's focusing now only on the journey, one taking him through an undiscovered country, with a Treefort monster right on his heels.

Road to Treefort: Part Two from Zach Voss on Vimeo.