SEARSPORT, Maine — Jeremy Grant wants you to get off the couch and go outside.
It’s nothing personal, mind you.
The Searsport-based videographer has an unquenchable belief in the possibilities that can happen when people engage with the natural world. He spends his life documenting the world to get people excited about it.
“I want to inspire people just to get out. Maine is cold, and it can be boring, if you don’t embrace it,” he said. “My catch phrase is, ‘Go discover something awesome.’ You’ve got to go just do it. There’s so many amazing things out there.”
In his own life, Grant, 34, endeavors to do as many of those things as he can, always with a camera or two in hand.
He shares his adventures with an ever-growing audience on his social media pages. The more than 17,000 Facebook fans of The Timber Cross, his film and media company, are quick to like and comment on the videos, which use soaring drone footage and solid storytelling skill to capture both the rugged beauty of Maine and the strength and gumption of Mainers.
“I’m so blessed by the community that follows my adventures,” he said. “That’s the whole point. We want to inspire people to build this incredible community and utilize social media for what it really could and should be.”
Grant, a rangy, excitable fellow who sports a bushy woodsman’s beard and whose born-again Christian faith informs his work, grew up rough in Aurora and Waltham in rural Hancock County. He doesn’t expand on his childhood, but there were hardships, he said. His home didn’t have running water or electricity, and his mom struggled with addiction.
But the woods were a place of solace for him.
After graduating from Ellsworth High School, he hit the road. Grant traveled all over the U.S. and Europe, doing various jobs and “having a blast.”
“I just needed to be adventuring, exploring,” he said. “There’s so much we can miss if we sit back.”
After five years, he came home to Maine, where he was ready for a change.
“When I came back from traveling, I was pretty raw. I got really lost and damaged,” he said. “And I got lucky. I ran into a really great friend that I used to run cross-country with, who invited me to church. I just kind of found Jesus. And it’s been phenomenal.”
Grant got married to his high school sweetheart, Katrina, and began working in construction. He was pretty good at it, but it wasn’t something that lit him up.
Turns out, his passion was drone photography. A customer first told him about the cameras when he was working at Viking Lumber in Hancock.
“It just sparked something,” he said. “It was one of those things that was so incredibly intuitive. I picked it up quicker than anything in my entire life. There’s so much freedom in it.”
Grant and a friend from church started the film and media company to tell “genuine stories.” They named it The Timber Cross, which was a nod to both their faith and the construction industry. A few months later, the friend dropped out, but Grant kept at it. About five years ago, he gambled that he could turn video and photography work into a full-time career.
“Everyone was like, ‘You’re so crazy,’” he said. “I was making good money at construction. I walked away, and just leaned into making these videos. When I went hard, that’s when the blow-up happened.”
As his viewership expanded, more opportunities arose. He made a deal with the owner of Weston-based guiding outfit Canoe the Wild: he’d spend a week on the Allagash and in exchange, make a short promotional film about the trip. The resulting video, “The Allagash — Canoe the Wild,” is 16 minutes of footage showing the grandeur and peace of the Maine woods. He used the drone and other cameras to capture shots of moose, eagles, river rapids and the star-studded night sky.
Jonathan Hayes, a St. John Valley musher, saw that video when he was planning a 261-mile dogsled trek to honor Togo, a heroic sled dog who led his team through harsh weather to transport a lifesaving serum to Nome, Alaska during a 1925 diphtheria epidemic.
Hayes reached out to Grant just two weeks before the trip began to see if he could document the March 2021 adventure.
“He dropped what he was doing and he said yes,” Hayes, of Saint David, said this week. “Jeremy was the right man for the job because he is a true adventurer and lover of the north woods.”
For Grant, the dogsled trip, which ultimately covered 280 miles from Fort Kent to Greenville, was an opportunity he could not refuse. It had it all — the beauty of the Maine winter, the drama of the arduous challenge, the rich history of mushing and the legendary story of Togo.
“Before I was even done with the email, I was like, ‘Yes, this is happening,’” he said. “I’m going to give it everything.”
Another opportunity that arose last minute was the chance to make a documentary of Mike Thurlow, a logger from Lee who for several years has donned a full logger outfit and carried a chainsaw to run the Millinocket Half-Marathon earlier this month. Thurlow, 66, and a team of similarly-costumed runners do this to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
But that time, it was Grant doing the asking — about a week before the Dec. 4 event.
“We struck off a good friendship, really,” the logger said. “I love his energy. I told him that, because I’m running out of energy. I just thought it was a great, great thing that he wanted to come up and do that.”
Grant brought cameras and borrowed a chainsaw from Thurlow. He jogged and filmed, and after the logger finished the half marathon, Grant decided to keep on going, finishing the marathon course later that night after all the organizers had already gone home. He came in last at nine hours and 37 minutes, and paid for the effort with bad blisters and a dislocated toe.
But it was worth it, he said. For him, it was great to come to Milllinocket with his wife and four young children, who cheered him on. It also meant a lot to be part of Thurlow’s team.
“We want these videos to be real,” Grant said. “We want to tell good stories. We want people to feel something. This video, with a 66-year-old, incredible man, who carries a chainsaw 13.1 miles, you see how incredibly proud he is to be part of this. I want people to feel that.”
In the end, that’s what drives him.
“I want to inspire people,” Grant said, adding that he feels very lucky that his wife is solidly in his corner. “She supports me in these choices. She believes wholeheartedly that we need to embrace our passions. That we need to be the most ourselves so we can really contribute to this world.”