Editor’s Note, Dec. 14, 2022: Credit to Realization Films was added.

Julia Drake must not sleep very much. As the co-owner and founder of Wildbound PR and Wildbound Live — the literary publicity and events production businesses she runs out of her home in Alpine Meadows — she somehow manages to fit more into a single day than most of us can imagine. “Every day feels like a marathon,” Drake says. “But it’s usually fun running that marathon. I thrive on filling in every minute with something.”

What she and her husband, Jared Drake, are undertaking is making a world of difference to creative people locally and beyond.

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The Drakes are the power duo that represents best-selling authors and major publishers from around the globe, and they’re also behind some of the biggest live and virtual events and film projects in the North Lake Tahoe area.

Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche, the award-winning documentary film that premiered in theaters this fall? That was the doing of Realization Films, made up of Jared and two additional partners. The feature film Weak Layers, starring comedian and skier Katie Burrell and set at Palisades Tahoe, due out in 2023? Also a Realization Films project. The Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series, which brings in high-profile athletes to sold-out crowds both in-person and online? A Wildbound production.

In addition, the company puts on virtual poetry and fiction workshops for the Community of Writers and organizes events for the Shane McConkey Foundation. The client list goes on and on.

California roots

The business started in 2008 solely as a boutique literary public relations agency to help authors promote and sell their new books around the world. But it’s expanded significantly since then into a wider array of services, and these days Julia and Jared say they’re happy to use their time and energy to promote Tahoe-area initiatives, whether organizing events that raise money for local nonprofit organizations or working with writing workshops in the region.

“We love this community, and the more we can do to contribute locally, the better,” Julia says. “That’s where our passion lies. That’s where we want to lean into more.”

Julia and Jared met in 2003 as undergrad students at UCLA. She had grown up in the mountains of southwest Germany; he in the mountains of western Washington. They were both drawn to UCLA to study film, and after college they teamed up to direct and produce an independent film called Visioneers starring comedian Zach Galifianakis. Julia earned a master’s in screenwriting at the American Film Institute and Jared was doing film and commercial work.

Around 2010, after finishing her degree and while still living in LA, Julia started helping New York Times bestseller author Hope Edelman promote her latest book. “I was always interested in the writing aspect, and I was a huge book nerd,” she says. “There were other authors with books coming out, and it snowballed. Someone said, ‘What’s the name of your company?’ I said, ‘What company?’” She named her business Julia Drake PR and she soon hired Jared — the two had married in 2008 — to come onboard for film and promotion work.

Most of their work promoting authors and arranging book tours and events around the globe was being done virtually, so after a fateful trip to Tahoe, the couple — who longed to return to the mountains — decided to uproot their lives in LA, and they moved to Alpine Meadows in 2014. “That’s when we renamed the company to Wildbound, as an expression of where we saw our future,” Julia says. “It meant follow your path, go into the wild, don’t feel like you’re restricted. Anything is possible.”

Their son Bo was born in 2016; and his little brother, Monte, followed in 2018. These days, they juggle family life with running their own business. (Julia also finds time to compete at a high level in Spartan World Championships, an obstacle course race; and they’re both active outdoors enthusiasts.) Wildbound employs one additional person, Julie Coryell, the company’s director of publicity, who works remotely from LA.

THE DRAKES: The power duo represents best-selling authors and major publishers from around the globe, and they’re also behind some of the biggest live and virtual events and film projects in North Lake Tahoe.

Broadening local

When Covid-19 hit, they had to transition their business, which relied heavily on in-person book events and book tours in far-flung cities. When they heard that Tahoe City’s Alpenglow Sports was canceling its beloved Winter Speaker Series due to the pandemic, Jared and Julia reached out to Alpenglow’s owner, Brendan Madigan, to see if they could help him pivot the event to a livestream. The virtual screenings of the talks that year drew in thousands of viewers and the events have collectively raised more than $1 million for local nonprofit organizations.

“Jared and Julia single-handedly revolutionized a 20-year-old event and turned it into a global event,” Madigan says. “We would never have been able to grow in this fashion without their help.” Last year, the five-part Winter Speaker Series was held with both live audiences and virtual events put on by Wildbound Live, bringing in 35,000 people virtually and 5,000 in-person. The program returns this season in the same dual format with speakers Jeremy Jones, Adrian Ballinger, Brette Harrington, Anna Pfaff, and Dave Nettle.

This year, in addition to numerous best picture awards for Buried, Jared produced the Kirkus Prize Literary Awards in Austin, Texas, and won the NewTek TriCaster Director of the Year Award (which honors those producing live virtual and in-person awards shows) for their work producing the National Book Critics Circle Awards — essentially the Oscars of the literary world. Wildbound also launched a live video podcast called Place and Purpose with author Greg Sarris, chairman and tribal leader of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and naturalist and author Obi Kaufmann. It streams live from the top of a mountain in Sonoma County. 

Are Julia and Jared worried about doing too much? Or doing too many different things? Not really. “We follow the energy and where our hearts are and what we enjoy, and worry about our branding later,” Julia says. She does have one important rule, though: No working on weekends. “We work from home so there’s some degree of flexibility,” she says. “But on the weekends, I will not look at my phone or computer. That’s the holy time. There’s no work. It’s about trying to find balance.”

Meanwhile, they are helping to spread the Tahoe vibe, making it possible for creators to share their views of the world and reach wider audiences. That’s priceless.

Author

  • Megan Michelson

    Megan Michelson, a Tahoe City-based freelance writer and editor got her start in journalism in Tahoe, then left for a decade to work at Outside Magazine, Skiing Magazine, and espn.com. She returned in 2012 and is teaching her two kids to pick up litter, ski on storm days, and hike farther than they want to.

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