REI has launched Co-op Studios, an in-house content arm that will produce films, podcasts and editorial programs aimed at creating stories that entertain, enrich and explore the power of time spent outside. The studio also will put an emphasis on climate and racial equity, diversity and inclusion into its work.
Co-op Studios will prioritize “storytelling from people and communities that are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ, women, and any other historically underrepresented groups as well as stories that reflect the human impact and opportunity to protect the environment,” according to REI.
“The outdoors is for everyone, and content is a powerful and relevant way to bring that belief to our members and new audiences,” said Paolo Mottola, Director of Content and Media at REI in a statement. “We are supporting projects that explore this idea from a variety of perspectives, formats and, most importantly, from a variety of voices. Our plan is to share and promote stories that encourage awareness and inspiration, and celebrate the different ways communities spend time outside.”
The next scheduled release from Co-op Studios is The Trees Remember, a three-part short film series written and directed by Angela Tucker of TuckerGurl, another production company. The films explore connection to nature through the stories of three Black women, with each film set in a different decade. Other upcoming projects include:
- Hello Nature, a podcast series hosted by Misha Euceph launching in September 2021 that will explore the experience of national parks through the eyes of a Pakistani-American;
- New episodes of Miranda in the Wild, a digital series featuring REI employee, backpacker and hiker Miranda Webster aimed at helping break down barriers to getting outside;
- A digital show featuring James Beard award-winning chef, nutrition coach and rock climber Maria Hines that explores the intersection of nutritious food, outdoor sports and the environment.
Additionally, Co-op Studios will relaunch Uncommon Path, a digital publication for REI members, and introduce the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards, which will honor top-performing gear and apparel based on field testing, REI expertise, member and customer feedback and sustainability attributes.
This isn’t REI’s first foray into media: in 2017, the retailer launched the Force of Nature initiative to advance gender equity in the outdoors through efforts including the films Cycle of Ancestry, Pedal Through and Venture Out; and the podcasts Wild Ideas Worth Living and Camp Monsters.
In 2020, Public House Films and TBVE produced, in association with REI Co-op Studios, The Dark Divide, a feature-length film that explores the healing power of nature. The film was released theatrically and will begin streaming on Vudu, Tubi and IMDb TV at the end of May 2021.