CSUN Alumni Treks Arctic with Her Father for Documentary Exploring Literal and Figurative Journeys of Fatherhood

  • Emily Hibard stands on pathway surrounded by bushes and greenery with her father, George.

    Emily Hibard stands on a Canadian pathway with her father, George. Photo courtesy of Hibard Group

Sure, Emily Hibard’s dad would appear in her documentary about fathers, but on one condition: He insisted his part be filmed while he drove from Orange County through Canada to kayak with his family in the Arctic Ocean — a trip that would take nearly two months by car.

Naturally, his part was filmed last.

Hibard ‘14 (M.P.A., Nonprofit Management) got the idea for a film she called “Honor Project Documentary” partially because she wanted to explore fatherhood as a woman, and partially because she began thinking about all the fathers that she knew who were doing the same thing her dad did for her: giving their children the best childhoods they could by being the best fathers they knew how to be.

“Dads are to the family as the skeleton is to the body,” Hibard said. “They have this innate ability to keep things in order and working right.”

While her parents began their trip in July, making one- to two-day stops along the way, Hibard started coordinating her first documentary and sat down with 20 different fathers from different backgrounds. Some of the dads came from different countries, such as Guatemala, some were raised in single parent households, some worked, while others stayed at home with the kids. One dad was even a trained singer and lent his voice to the documentary’s soundtrack. Hibard wanted to give these men an opportunity to express, in their own words and ways, why fatherhood is so meaningful to them. 

“I didn’t post a casting call asking people to refer me to men they think are really great dads,” Hibard said. “I didn’t have to; I already knew who they were.”

According to George Hibard, four things make a good father: being able to provide, offering security, being compassionate and “showing them how to do things,” he said. “The rest will follow.”

After a month of filming, directing and producing the original soundtrack at her nonprofit recording studio, Idle Tuesdays Recording Studio, in Los Angeles, Hibard flew out to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, in August to join her parents for three more weeks of driving.

Together, they drove for about five to nine hours a day past green hills and frost-covered plants through heavy snowfall, filming her father as he cleaned dirt off his SUV and posed for the camera. Once they arrived at the Arctic shore, Hibard joined her father in the kayak and wore a GoPro camera on her head backwards to film him as they rowed in the 29-degree weather through the waters of the Arctic ocean, gray clouds painting the sky.

Once they had been out on the water together, the Hibards made the 3,700 mile return trip to Los Angeles together.

George Hibard had always loved the Arctic, and he and his daughter had always shared a love of traveling. Since the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway — a road that leads all the way to the Arctic through Canada — had been put in in 2017, he knew he had to take advantage of it with his family. Not doing so would feel like they would be missing out on an amazing opportunity. Once they got there, save for a few locals, they were alone, with no one there to disturb them.

“It’s like getting to go to the Louvre without all the tourists around,” he said.

The “Honor Project Documentary” is set to premiere on Father’s Day, June 16, starting at 4 p.m., at the Desert Reign Church, located in Downey. It will be open to the public, and those interested can purchase tickets on the documentary’s website, https://honorprojectmovie.com/. 

Hibard intends to roll out a red carpet for the occasion, to honor all the dads who took part in her film.


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