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 AquaBurn "Dare To Take A Trip !"   

AquaBurn has become a Burning Man cult classic.   Director and Filmmaker Bill Breithaupt is a 19 year Burning Man veteran.  AquaBurn received a standing ovation from an audience of over 300 at its premiere and has screened in over 20 film festivals, including New York and London, where it headlined.  AquaBurn won "Best Director" at the Beverly Hills film festival and "Best Documentary" at the Coney Island film festival, and "Special Jury Award" at the Action Cut LA film festival.

AquaBurn, is an award-winning documentary film by director Bill Breithaupt. Unlike conventional documentaries on the Burning Man Festival, Aqua Burn captures the true feeling and excitement of the event itself, transporting the viewer to a hot, dusty wonderland without ever leaving home.  Aqua Burn features many of the incredible Burning Man art installations, the imagination and originality that went into their creation, and the artists who conceived them.

    AquaBurn: Official Screenings

             Beverley Hills Film Festival - (Best Director)

           Coney Island Film Festival - (Best Documentary)

           Action Cut Film Festival - (Special Jury Award)

            London Burning Man Film Festival - (Headlined)

          New York International Independent Film Festival

       Santa Cruz Burning Man film Festival - (Standing Ovation)

                        Cinequest Film Festival

                       Crested Butte Reel Fest

                          Flint Film Festival

         Healdsburg Burning Man Film Festival - (Headlined)

                    Under The Couch Film Festival

                        Hi Mom Film Festival

     Beverley Hills Film Festival - (Best Director)

AquaBurn introduces you to artists like Peter Hudson, who created Sisyphish, a life-size 3D zoetrope of a swimmer, Nate Smith, who conjures a 20 ft. fire tornado, David Best & his crew’s 78 ft. Temple of Joy - a tribute to 9/11, Deirdre DeFranceaux’s beautiful sculpture of singing sirens, Shane Rogers and the Sky People show off their sky diving skills over Black Rock City, Terry Shreck’s glowing metal sculpture Beacon, and Kiki Petit’s incredible fire waterfall Egeria.

Burning Man Head of Media Operations, Jim Graham offered Bill Breithaupt a spot in the 1st annual Burning Man Film Festival held in Santa Cruz, CA.  Jumping at the opportunity Breithaupt headed to Burning Man for his fourth year in a row, filming the entire week as usual. Aside from the beautiful time-lapse footage and cinematic shots he’s known for, he also captured some fantastic insight from his fellow burners.

When Bill returned home he locked himself in his studio and edited, determined to make his best film yet. With only three weeks between the end of Burning Man 2002 and the day of the film festival, he began burning the midnight oil, editing 14-16 hours straight, rarely sleeping. At the end of this crazy schedule Breithaupt had edited a total of 180 hours, and was off to the festival without having slept for two days straight.

Breithaupt then logged a additional grueling 620 hours of editing time and then AquaBurn was finally complete. It also received approval for sale from the Burning Man Organization, granted to only a few select films. In a meeting with Maid Marian, Burning Man Org Mistress of Communications, she said "AquaBurn rocks my world!".

The final result was the film AquaBurn. The 300 + audience that packed into the Rio Theater that day were awed. At the end of the film they cheered, then quieted to watch all the credits, and then cheered again, rising to give Breithaupt a standing ovation (at the end of which he thanked his mom). True to form, he filmed the audience’s enthusiastic reaction, and was even quoted as saying "it was one of the best moments of my life".

AquaBurn was an official selection in the New York International Film & Video Festival, which he attended. After spending a week in New York promoting the film, he flew straight to London for the first international Burning Man Film Festival.

A more perfect venue couldn’t have been chosen than the über-hip Ritzy Theater in Brixton. Breithaupt was stoked to find out upon his arrival at the theater that AquaBurn was headlining the London Burning Man Film Festival. At the raging after-party at the Brixtonian Breithaupt bumped into Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man (who has been known to comment "AquaBurn, yeah, we like that one")

AquaBurn also headline The Burning Man Film Festival held at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg, CA. AquaBurn was once again earning recognition in the film festival circuit. The 2004 Action/Cut Short Film Festival screened and judged nearly one thousand films on the parameters of: subject originality, content realization, visual-storytelling, production values and viewing engagement of work. Having gone through such thorough scrutiny, AquaBurn received the Special Jury Award for Documentary.

  Beverley Hills Film Festival- ( BEST DIRECTOR)


 Coney Island Film Festival - (Best Documentary)


 Action Cut Film Festival - (Special Jury Award)

An onslaught of film festivals followed. In November that year AquaBurn headlined the Under the Couch Film Festival in Newport Beach, CA. In December it was shown as a Special Selection Kiosk Film at the Hi Mom! Film Festival in North Carolina. In February 2006 AquaBurn was chosen for the new Cinequest Online Film Festival.

AquaBurn was chosen as an official selection of the Flint Film Festival in May of 2005, and the Crested Butte Reel Festival in August. In September of 2005 Bill Breithaupt made the trip to New York once agan.

AstroBlaze was an official selection of the Coney Island Short Film Festival, making it the third consecutive year that one of his films had been chosen by this film festival. Founder Rob Leddy put on a fantastic film festival, with a smashing pre-fest party including a freaky side show & engaging burlesque performances.

It was an honor for Breithaupt to attend the festival and present the film to such an eager and appreciative audience. Also attending the festival to support AstroBlaze was one of the stars of the film, Kate Raudenbush.

Bill Breithaupt was again asked by Burning Man Head of Media Operations Jim Graham to create another film, this time to headline the 2nd Burning Man Film Festival in Santa Cruz, leaving him only one month between Burning Man and the film festival to edit a new film.

With less than two weeks till Santa Cruz, Bill took some time off from his grueling editing schedule to attend the Coney Island Short Film Festival in New York. Not only was AquaBurn an official selection in the festival, but it won the title of Best Documentary Short Film. Returning home with a cleared mind, Breithaupt resumed his editing schedule and completed Burning Karma the very morning of the Santa Cruz Burning Man Film Festival.

Burning Karma is darker and more intense than its predecessor, AquaBurn, yet it maintains a focus on the incredible art installations of the year's theme (Beyond Belief). Following many of the artists from AquaBurn, we see Terry Schrek’s project "In God’s Hands", Peter Hudson’s return with Sisyphish, David Best’s Temple of Honor, plus sky diving footage from Brian Burke & the Sky People, all set to classical music and hypnotic techno beats.  In February of 2007 Burning Karma was chosen to be the only film shown as part of the exhibit "Burning Man & Beyond" hosted for one month by the Santa Rosa Junior College.


                       AquaBurn                 Burning Karma                     AstroBlaze                   Are You Lost?

A few weeks later Head of Burning Man Media Operations Jim Graham once again offered Bill Breithaupt a spot in the 3rd and final Burning Man Film Festival in Santa Cruz. Breithaupt set out for the playa as usual, for his 6th consecutive year. While he was at Burning Man that year,  Breithaupt was greeted with the news of his win when he returned home from Burning Man 2004. As if that weren’t encouragement enough, Burning Karma was also beginning to gain notoriety. For the second year in a row one of his Burning Man films, this time Burning Karma, was an official selection in the Coney Island Short Film Festival. Rather than trying to make the trip to New York just days before the Santa Cruz Burning Man Film Festival this year he decided to stay home and edit AstroBlaze.

AstroBlaze, like its prequels, was edited in under a month and premiered at the 3nd annual Santa Cruz Burning Man Film Festival. A mellow, reflective piece, the film focuses on returning artist Peter Hudson and his mind-blowing life-size 3D zoetrope Deeper. Nate Smith’s project, the Singularity Machine, (the fire vortex from 2002 perfected) also gains attention. In the film we are introduced to new artist Kate Raudenbush and her project Observer/Observed, a 10’ x 10’ cube of 2 way mirrors that gives it’s entrants a new perspective. Another new artist featured is David Biggs and his project Constellations, a participatory piece invoking a deeper look at the ties that connect Burning Man participants to one an"


"ARE YOU LOST" is an award winning 5 min short film that combines several years of Burning Man into one short film. "ARE YOU LOST" won 3rd place in the URD online film festival.

Although not the first Burning Man film by Bill Breithaupt, AquaBurn has become the most popular. Breithaupt is a nineteen year Burning Man veteran, having attended and filmed the festival since 1999, when he ventured out to the playa for the first time and was blown away at what he experienced. Returning home he couldn’t stop talking about how amazing Burning Man was. Realizing that he never could quite convey the experience to others through words, he decided to express it through film, a medium he’s been working with for over 30 years. Breithaupt hunkered down and spent hours editing his footage into a film, The Burning Man Project, which featured Dr. Megavolt. When he came back to the playa the following year he brought with him 100 copies of Playa Project to gift to his fellow burners. This became his annual tradition, filming, editing and returning the next year with films to gift on the playa.


     The Burning Man Project 



   Director Bill Breithaupt is proud to present in its entirety his award winning film The Burning Man Project

                                               Burning Man 1999

In 2000 Breithaupt started screening his films at Flambé Lounge, a pre-Burning Man party held in San Francisco. At Club Cocomo he gave the video jockey a copy of Playa Project, which was promptly played on the screens in the club. It was a hit with the crowd, hailed as "hip, new, and exciting". The next year at Flambé Lounge they showcased his film, Got Fire? from Burning Man 2000.

           Got Fire?


     Director Bill Breithaupt is proud to present in its entirety his award winning film Got Fire?

                                       Burning Man 2000

There was electricity in the air as people embraced the year’s upcoming theme The Floating World at the Flambé Lounge Blue Ball in 2002. Breithaupt showed his 2001 film PlayaScape, and the crowd was ecstatic, cheering in unison as the credits rolled.


      Director Bill Breithaupt is proud to present his award winning film PlayaScape

                                   Burning Man 2001

         TIME BLUR

      Director Bill Breithaupt is proud to presents his award winning film Time Blur

                                   Burning Man 2012

                Drown in the NOW!

Director Bill Breithaupt is proud to present in its entirety his award winning film Drown in the NOW


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VideoClips and Images on this page are under copyright by Bill Breithaupt

Copyright ©Bill Breithaupt 1999,2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,

2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017, 2018, 2019


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Videographer Bill Breithaupt makes his 2002 film, Aquaburn, available online.

Posted by Burning Man on Wednesday, December 20, 2017