Up on the Mountain

Port Townsend, Washington | Film Feature


Up On The Mountain Film

1 Campaigns | Oregon, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $14,608 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

80 supporters | followers

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In burned-out stands of forests, along twisting mazes of logging roads, and up on the mountains of remaining wildlands, commercial mushroom pickers make up a network of migrants from around the world. Despite the sustainability of the harvest, they are repeatedly denied access to public lands.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

This film represents the perspective of vulnerable populations and our team is comprised of people who have direct experiences with projects that elevate voices from marginalized communities, while protecting their right to safe passage, shelter, and sustenance.

The Story

Set against the stunning backdrop of the American West, Up on the Mountain takes you to the confluence of immigrant rights, public lands, food politics, and the deeply committed subculture that has grown around wild mushrooms. While working as commercial mushroom pickers, Olivier Matthon and Michael Reis have packed cameras over several years in the migration over California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, capturing this largely invisible network of people working in rugged wildlands, carrying on the knowledge of an ancient food source.



In the late 1980’s, industrial logging and a liberalized Asian trade market radically changed many realities in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. With the disappearance of forest jobs that had been held by rural and migrant labor, people turned to new forms of income from the forest. Commercial mushroom picking, though elusive and largely unregulated, began to take off. It immediately attracted some of the most disenfranchised groups of society: Southeast Asian refugees from the Vietnam War who had difficulty finding work because of language barriers and discrimination, Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants escaping poverty from their countries only to be taken advantage of by U.S. employers, unemployed rural Americans facing the decline in the logging and fishing industries, and back-to-the-landers who didn’t fit in the growing tech and service sector lifestyle. Having little to lose, they took to the woods. They created a subculture of outcast gatherers who depend on a deep knowledge of nature and, most importantly, on one another.



For decades now, mushroom picking has experienced increasing controversy. Despite ample evidence of the sustainability of the harvest, critics of the industry have targeted commercial mushroom pickers and denied them access to public forests. While the Forest Service continues to subsidize the timber industry with large-scale logging contracts, the agency remains underfunded and lacks the staffing to adequately respond to newer commercial entities, like mushroom harvesting. As a result, a timber company can clearcut an entire forest from which a mushroom picker has been banned. Forest managers often find themselves overwhelmed by the sudden annual arrival of hundreds of independent pickers, seeking to harvest mushrooms on public land. Commercial mushroom pickers are often confronted by federal agents deep in the forest, far from support. Stories of racial profiling, anti-immigration, and elusive, discriminate rule-making regularly put mushroom pickers in unsafe situations.



And still the demand for wild mushrooms continues to grow. With new restaurant markets expanding—following the increase in urbanization of the American West—migrating mushroom pickers are often the only source for distributors. Unlike other harvested food, many of the desirable types of mushrooms are not responsive to cultivation or realistic agricultural products. Knowing where to find and how to identify the correct, edible species is a shared practice and carries back hundreds of generations.



Up on the Mountain highlights the stories of three groups of commercial mushroom pickers as they travel into the forest and up on the mountains. Filming has already begun and will be completed by the spring of 2019, representing the four seasons of picking. The funds from this campaign will be essential support in the completion of filming. All funds raised above our goal will go towards the next phase of editing.


For more information, visit our website, and watch our 3-minute teaser below:





Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Director of Photography

Costs $4,400

This will pay for the minimum amount of shooting days left.


Costs $1,000

This will pay a team member to log, review, and pre-edit the footage during production.

Wireless Microphone Kit

Costs $1,645

The audience will forgive bad video, but they won't forgive bad audio!

Sound Recordist

Costs $4,400

This will pay for the minimum amount of days left recording audio in the field.

Travel and Lodging

Costs $2,549

A minimum of 4722 miles will take us from Washington to Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Olivier Matthon (co-director) Olivier first obtained a grant from the Evergreen State College Foundation to conduct an ethnographic study of wild mushroom pickers in 2012. The resulting story, Under the Radar, was published by Pioneers Press. He has been working as a commercial mushroom picker ever since. Olivier was an undocumented immigrant for three years, working in the reforestation industry at the height of the Border Patrol roadblocks on the Olympic peninsula, in Washington state. His writing and photographs have appeared in the UTNE Reader and in High Country News Magazine. He graduated with a B.A. in Ethnography, Political Ecology, and Nonfiction Writing from the Evergreen State College.


Michael Reis (co-director) Michael works as a broadcast coordinator, technical director, and IT network director at a public access television station where he specializes in documenting the unique nuances of rural life. Additionally, Michael works in public outreach and technical training, assisting amateur filmmakers and teaching them how to best use their equipment. He also works as a commercial fisherman every summer and has been a commercial mushroom picker.


Erin Yanke (consulting producer) Erin is a documentarian who works in the mediums of audio, print, and video. Her work focuses on themes of the untold story, the unheard voice, comparative experience across identities, and the clean and sharp edit. She is the co-director of the award-winning documentary Arresting Power, the Program Director at KBOO Community Radio, and the Board President of Outside the Frame, an organization that changes the way homeless youth see and are seen by teaching them filmmaking.


Patricia Vázquez Gómez (translator) Patricia works and lives between Portland and Mexico City. Her practice includes a range of media, from painting and murals to video and socially engaged art projects, and it is deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and social justice movements both in content and in the methodologies she uses. Patricia’s work can be explored at http://cargocollective.com/patriciavg


Amy Wheeler Harwood (consulting producer)  Amy has been involved in forest conservation and public lands advocacy since 1998. She has worked at Bark, a watchdog group for Mt. Hood National Forest in various roles for over fifteen years. She has led hundreds of hikes and backpacking trips, educating people on the threats that face our remaining wildlands. She is also a co-founder of Signal Fire.

Current Team