The Devil's Road: A Baja Adventure

A group of adventurers set out across Baja California on a 5,000-mile journey to recreate the century-old expedition of two prolific and obscure naturalists.

Their search takes them on a thrilling quest—by motorcycle, airplane, boat, and horseback—to recreate the historic, unprecedented expedition across Baja. Along the way, they bear witness to the vibrant culture and unforgettable people, endure the challenges of the road, and get a glimpse into this extraordinary place and its uncertain future.

The Devil’s Road is rich with adventure and shows the interplay between past and present. A film about discovery and change, it acts as an environmental call to arms that pays homage to the strange and awe-inspiring Baja California.

  • JT Bruce
    Director
    Juicehead Galaxy Lounge
  • JT Bruce
    Writer
  • Todd Bruce
    Writer
  • Todd Bruce
    Producer
  • Bri Bruce
    Producer
  • JT Bruce
    Key Cast
    "Director"
  • Todd Bruce
    Key Cast
    "Producer"
  • Greg Meyer
    Key Cast
    "Scientific Advisor"
  • Bri Bruce
    Key Cast
    "Associate Producer"
  • Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra
    Key Cast
  • Dr. Jose A. Mercade
    Key Cast
  • Wallace ‘J’ Nichols, Ph.D
    Key Cast
  • Dr. Jack Dumbacher
    Key Cast
  • Dr. Matthew James
    Key Cast
  • Moe Flannery
    Key Cast
  • David Kier
    Key Cast
  • Ignacio Vilchis Ph.D
    Key Cast
  • Jon Rebman Ph.D
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Adventure, History, Science, Biology, Culture, Conservation, Nature, Natural History, Environmental
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    100,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Mexico, United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Big Bear Film Summit

    Best Documentary Feature
  • Baja California International Film Festival
  • Adventure Travel Film Festival
  • Glendale International Film Festival

    Best Feature Documentary
  • Red Rock Film Festival
  • Golden Gate International Film Festival

    Best Travel Documentary
  • Chico Independent Film Festival

    Best in Show, Best Documentary, Best Director
  • Lonely Wolf Film Festival
    London
    Best Documentary Editing Archival Usage and Best Documentary Interactive
Director Biography - JT Bruce

JT got his hands on a VHS camcorder in the early 90s and has been making movies ever since. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in television, film, and new media production from San Diego State University, he cut his teeth on nearly every aspect of the filmmaking process. After graduating, he took a job at a production studio working on myriad nature documentaries, experimental films, and animated shorts. Also a musical artist, his fourth full-length album, Vandal of Fortune, was released in June of 2015. For the past 10 years he’s been working as a professional freelance animator and visual effects artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Devil’s Road is his first feature as director. More of his work can be seen at www.subjectruin.net.

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Director Statement

Four years ago, our crew set out to bring a historic expedition out of obscurity and create a phenomenon out of the lost lessons of the past.

Our film—The Devil’s Road—comes at a time when we as a society are finally realizing that our natural world is changing, and that human activity is the driving force behind it. Scientists have known this for decades, but now the changes are so large, and happen at such a high rate, that it is apparent to anyone who looks. This scientific consensus could not have been built without the sweat of early explorers, who traveled to distant inhospitable lands to study and catalog what they found. Only through a comparison between past records and modern observations can we definitively show that things are amiss in ecosystems worldwide.

Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman are not household names, and they were not the first explorers of Baja California, but their work in the early 1900s brought together all previous studies performed there and laid a foundation for all future ones. They were a bridge between viewpoints.

The Devil’s Road is about navigating between perspectives. We shine a light on the past to contextualize the present. Many seem to consider our current problems as fully unique to our time period, disconnected from history. But historical context is a tool that can help us make sense of problems happening today and can even help us find a way forward. To know where you’re going, it helps to know where you’ve been.

This is what I hope our film accomplishes. It’s not just a historical documentary or motorcycle road movie. It’s not a reprimand on the audience for some perceived failure to protect the environment. It’s a chance to gain a wider perspective and view the trajectory that our planet’s ecosystems are on, and to help people make their own decisions about how we should approach the future.

Travelers are quick to think that everything worth finding has been found. That people like Nelson or Goldman are the last explorers able to make significant discoveries. That Earth has essentially been conquered, or worse, that the decline into catastrophe has begun and is irreversible. But scientists today continue to push the envelope, to make new connections, to discover new forms of life and advance our understanding of the world we live in. Men and women of science are in the unique position of seeing both how much there is left to discover, and how easily it can disappear.

The future of earth’s ecosystems will reflect our actions today. There is no better lens through which to view these ideas than Baja California—a place where history, nature, and adventure collide.