In 2002, editor Nick Callanan and art director Kristen Kaiser founded No Umbrella – A Reader for River People in The Forks, Maine. With its tales of river accomplishments, outdoor sports photography, humor and more, No Umbrella quickly built a following among the outdoor freaks of central Maine. Alas, with competition from internet advertising and the looming economic hardships affecting many of its advertisers, No Umbrella had to close its doors in 2007.
Flash forward to early 2012, Maine business-owners (and raft guides) Nick Callanan, Nick Bowie and Joe Christopher talked about reviving the spirit of the old river rag, using the prevailing medium of the day! The three men plotted how to create a Maine institution where film and the outdoor lifestyle converged; a film festival celebrating Maine’s broad array of beautiful places, recreational opportunities and creative people.
And later that year, on August 25, 2012, in The Forks, the Maine Outdoor Film Festival came to life. The grass and picnic tables were packed with over 200 people, laughing and gasping as the big screen lit up with local adventurers’ storytelling. Nearby, a bonfire blazed while local craft beer and sandwiches satisfied the palettes of attendees, who watched films and later told stories of that day’s river trip down the rapids of the Kennebec River.
The next year, MOFF expanded its programming to other Maine towns, bringing outdoor films to Maine people where they are. MOFF tour stops from 2013 to 2015 included stops in 16 towns in nine counties.
Also in 2013, we began our tradition of a December MOFF Awards Show in the big city of Portland, where MOFF filmmakers, sponsors, jury members and fans can get together for a Mountain Formal affair to celebrate the best outdoor filmmaking in the state.
Another important milestone in 2013 was MOFF’s partnership with Teens to Trails. Since the 2013 MOFF, the film festival has donated its proceeds to Teens To Trails, 501(c)3 based in Brunswick, who supports Maine high school students and outing clubs cash grants, organizational support and programming. MOFF loves helping Teens To Trails help Maine kids discover the outdoors!
In 2015, MOFF became a wholly owned subsidiary of No Umbrella Media LLC. Joe Christopher’s company Three Rivers Fun will always be a trusted friend of the festival.
In 2020, MOFF began its multi-day flagship event in Portland. With the pandemic in full effect, it was a challenging year to begin, but by following state-mandated recommendations the festival was able to hold a safe, fun event.