Ryan Van Duzer hasn’t had a written resume in years. He’s made a living having adventures, making videos of them and giving inspirational talks about the approach to life that has him venturing off the beaten path on a daily basis.
“I live a very charmed life and I’ve created a life where my job essentially is to have fun. I get paid to go on adventures and document them,” he says. “I’m definitely a very lucky boy in what I do for a living.”
What he does now sounds pretty awesome already — but Van Duzer is still psyched to be in the running for Tourism Australia’s “Best Jobs in the World” contest. The marketing campaign saw tens of thousands of applicants for demanding, difficult jobs like being a park ranger in Queensland, a lifestyle photographer in Melbourne or a taste master in Western Australia.
After submitting a 30-second video that quickly recaps his adventurous approach to life, Van Duzer was notified he was among 25 semi-finalists selected from all over the world for consideration as an “Outback Adventurer.”
“It’s kind of like the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory story,” he says. “Everybody gets this golden ticket and they’re all from different walks of life and they all want this amazing job and that’s kind of what it feels like.”
There are definitely solid candidates out there, he says, but having had a career that has centered on having fun and telling those stories for outlets like the Travel Channel, National Geographic and Discovery Channel, he says, he hopes will set him apart.
"I do think I’m a little bit older and I’ve got a lot more experience a) in adventures, b) in documenting adventures — and c) being a total goofball. I’ve really mastered that,” he says. “You’ve got to be comfortable in your skin, and that’s definitely me.”
In 2009, Tourism Australia ran a similar contest for a single job. This year, they posted six.
If selected, Van Duzer would go to live in the Australian Outback in the Northern Territories for six months.
“My job would be to go on adventures every single day and document them through blogs and videos and photos in an effort to inspire outside travelers to come to the Outback and check it out,” he says.
It’s really not that different from what Van Duzer does for a living now. He’s already a self-described adventurer. He’s just never been to Australia, despite always having a dream of going to Australia — and a long time admiration of Steve Irwin.
“I’ve done all sorts of crazy things around the world and I am a storyteller, I’m a filmmaker. I work with video all the time,” he says. “So I think I’m a pretty good fit as far as if they’re somebody to be able to convey these interesting stories in a professional, fun, engaging way.”
The wild and crazy lifestyle started when he spent two years in the Peace Corps in Honduras and decided to bike the 2,000 miles home to Boulder. He’s since ridden his bicycle across the country twice, and down each of the country’s coastlines.
“I like traveling by bike because you move so slowly — I call it life at 15 miles per hour,” he says. “You see things that you would normally miss in a car or a bus or an airplane. You stop in these little villages and you meet people and you’re really on ground level experiencing every inch of a journey, so that’s why I like riding my bike.”
Van Duzer took video skills from a broadcast degree from the University of Colorado and uses them now to film his own stories — and “Mama Picchu,” a short film about his mom’s experiences getting in shape for and then trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru, which was an official selection in the 2012 Adventure Film Festival.
“Usually, when I do these videos, I’m the main character,” he says. “It’s hard because a lot of times I have to film myself, so that’s a tricky thing to do. I have to stick the camera on a tripod or something, like when I do these bike rides, I would document these rides through almost daily videos. I’d be riding in a beautiful area, I’d be like, ‘Oh I should get this shot.’ I would set up a tripod, hit the record button, run back 200 yards and then ride my bike in front of the camera so it looks like I have a camera man. So that’s just like the constant struggle of filming yourself and making it look like you actually have a crew when you don’t.”
Maybe the real challenge is putting himself out there, time and again — being willing both to be a loud, goofy guy on video and to open up to moments like crying on national television. It takes a thick skin, he says.
Having lived this way for years, he says, is ample training to ship off to the Outback and do it there.
“The model of my life is every day is an adventure, so I like to turn every little thing into some sort of fun and exciting new way to look at the world,” he says. “I just tell people to get outside and go on a hike and goof around, and just do things differently, and then every now and then I do the big adventures, but usually every day I find something to do in Boulder. I don’t drive, so I ride my bike everywhere, that’s an adventure in itself, I pick different routes through town just to see different things. I’m easily entertained.”
He’s making another, longer video to submit for the next stage in the application process, as well as gathering up supporters and references to vouch for his ability to be the best outback adventurer for the job. He finds out May 15 if he’s in the top three candidates, who will be flown to Australia to interview in mid-June — and funny enough, for the first time in years, he’ll have to submit a written resume.
Follow up on his adventures at www.duzertv.com.
Ryan Van Duzer’s latest video application to Tourism Australia in his campaign to win the best job ever, outback adventurer — a six-month gig of having fun in the Australian outback and telling people about it — is off and running. Check out Duzer’s tour of Boulder, and his ongoing efforts to prove why he’s the man for the job, here: