Taking My Parents to Burning Man

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Taking My Parents to Burning Man
Taking My Parents to Burning Man poster.jpg
Directed byJoel Ashton McCarthy and Bryant H. Boesen
Produced by
  • Joel Ashton McCarthy
  • Bryant H. Boesen
StarringBryant H. Boesen
Music byBrett Statham
CinematographyJoel Ashton McCarthy
Edited byJoel Ashton McCarthy and Bryant H. Boesen
Release date
  • April 5, 2014 (2014-04-05) (Sonoma International Film Festival)
Running time
82 minutes

Taking My Parents to Burning Man is a 2014 Canadian documentary film directed by Joel Ashton McCarthy and Bryant H. Boesen that follows the latter's adventures with his 60-year-old parents at the "infamous", annual Burning Man arts festival in Black Rock Desert.[1][2] Their journey takes them on a road-trip from Vancouver, British Columbia to northern Nevada in a 35-foot school bus.[1] It provides a, "intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for, the journey to and the adventures at the least-likely family vacation imaginable."[3]

Selling out seven consecutive screenings, it won the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at both the 2014 Sonoma International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, and the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival.[4][5][6] It also won the Micro-Budget Feature Award at the 2014 Maui Film Festival.[7] It held its Canadian premiere at the Rio Theatre in May 2014.[8]


Boesen wanted to make a documentary about Burning Man, "so that the people that won't make it here; people like my parents, can see what it's all about and we'll try to define it for a bunch of people who have never been."[9] According to Boesen, it was his parents' decision to attend Burning Man, "I already wanted to shoot a documentary about the event and asked them [Charles and Lilice] if I could follow them on their adventure with a camera."[1]

Boesen approached McCarthy while the two were finishing film school to make the documentary.[10] In April 2012, after McCarthy maxed out two credit cards, he and Boesen launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.[10][11] After successfully raising over $10,000, Kickstarter refused to deliver payment due to an "administrative glitch" and despite Boesen having proof of being a dual US/Canadian citizen.[10] The incident is incorporated into the feature.[12] In December 2012 they relaunched their campaign, this time using indiegogo and again reached their $10,000 goal.[13][14][15]

About 40 hours of footage was shot, including on-location from August 27 to September 3, 2012, with the approval of Black Rock City, LLC.[16]


Peter Mehlman described it as, "Funny, oddly heart-warming and beautifully produced. But most importantly, this fim portrays Burning Man honestly."[17] Fellow Vancouver filmmakers the Soska sisters called it, "A truly moving, honest piece that bridges the generation gap and brings people together in the real spirit of Burning Man."[18] Chelsea Rush praised its depiction of the family bonding, "that can't help but tug at your heartstrings," and that it, "truly grasps the experience of Burning Man."[19] Tommy Cook, although liking it, mentions it becomes, "an exercise in creativity-shunned, where the only answer to rampant corporate greed and the monotony of the '9 to 5' is to regress back to a constant state of adolescence."[20]


  1. ^ a b c Paolozzi, John. "Q&A with Taking My Parents to Burning Man producer Spry Bry". music.cbc.ca. CBC.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  2. ^ "The Disneyland of debauchery". The Sonoma Valley Sun. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  3. ^ "'Taking parents to Burning Man' film to be screened at Sebastiani Theatre". Sonoma Index-Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  4. ^ Robinson, Bruce. "'Taking My Parents to Burning Man'". http://radio.krcb.org. KRCB. Retrieved 23 June 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ Fudge, Jakob. "Siddharth wins world feature at Sonoma". screendaily.com. Screen International. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  6. ^ "2014 Newport Beach Film Festival Jury Awards". Newport Beach Film Festival. Archived from the original on 11 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Maui Film Festival Awards". Maui Film Festival. Archived from the original on 29 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  8. ^ Wawryk, Amanda. ""Taking My Parents to Burning Man" premieres in Vancouver tonight". news1130.com. CKWX. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  9. ^ Stewart, Pamela. "Artist Interview: Spry Bry Takes His Parents to Burning Man and Films the Adventure". IgniteChannel.com. Ignite Channel. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Gest, Kyle. "Taking My Parents to Burning Man". TheLapse.org. The Lapse Storytelling Podcast. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Taking My Parents to Burning Man - ...a Black Rock-umentary!". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  12. ^ Fenwick, Chris. "DCC050 – Taking My Parents to Burning Man (feat. Bryant "Spry Bry" Boesen)". DigitalCinemaCafe.com. Digital Cinema Cafe. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  13. ^ "TAKING MY PARENTS TO BURNING MAN, VANCOUVER FILMMAKER". vancitybuzz.ca. Vancity Buzz. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  14. ^ Stephens, Mark. "Taking My Parents to Burning Man". adventureparents.com. Adventure Parents. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Taking My Parents to Burning Man: a Black Rock-umentary!". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  16. ^ Love, Rick. "Joel Ashton McCarthy and Bryant Boesen Taking My Parents to Burning Man Rick Love Interviews". SonomaTV. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  17. ^ Mehlman, Peter. "Mehlman pull quote". Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  18. ^ Soska, Jen and Sylvia. "Soska pull quote". Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  19. ^ Rush, Chelsea. "Artscapes: "Taking my Parents to Burning Man" at NB Film Fest". newportbeachindy.com. Newport Beach Indy. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  20. ^ Cook, Tommy. "Sonoma International Film Festival 2014 Recap and Reviews for BESIDE STILL WATERS, JADOO". Collider.com. Collider.