posted by dpm on 01/28/2011
Many people do not know Nathan Bancroft, but after REACH, they will. Nathan’s first full-length feature has been getting a lot of commentary and traffic, especially for a somewhat “unknown” filmmaker. However, if you caught a glimpse of the Timy Fairfield piece featured during the Reel Rock Tour several years back then you know he is capable of creating striking imagery (even in the middle of the night). We should expect nothing less than quality from him, yes; this is a lot of pressure but the few clips floating around show that he is up for the challenge. DPM caught up with Nathan between trips to the editing room to ask him about his filming experience and his first full-length feature film REACH.
DPM: Who was the most interesting person to film and why?
DPM: What was the most interesting problem and why? Good or bad?
Nathan: I think Felipe’s ascent of “Into the Wild” (V14) was one of the more exciting moments we captured. I certainly didn’t have any expectations when we were there but Felipe was on a mission. It was really motivating to see and it couldn’t have happened in a better situation- the sun was setting, the waves were huge, and there was this shaft of light coming under the boulder that lit up the main rest in the problem. Everything came together in that moment and I think we came off of that with a lot of motivation for the rest of the trip.
DPM: As a filmmaker you grabbed some big names, how did you coordinate that?
DPM: With everyone shooting with new DSLRs what are you using? Has the influx of online vids been good or bad for the industry?
The influx of online videos has been, again, both good and bad. It’s great that there are people all over the world climbing and shooting and having fun with it. It makes our world more interesting now that we can watch a video from anywhere made by anyone. On the other hand, I think online video has caused a lot of people to just want everything for free. It’s not cheap making a feature film and when people complain about how much downloads cost and how DVDs are too expensive, it makes me concerned for our industry.
DPM: You filmed a segment for the Reel Rock Tour a year or so back, what did you learn in the process?
DPM: What shot are you most proud of that people either won't notice or won’t necessarily fixate on?
Nathan: I think it would have to be split between a couple of different shots. Jon stretching below the Cabron Arête in Brazil was one of my favorite shots from that trip. Dave’s section on The Mote in God’s Eye came together in an interesting way that I really like, and Jon’s slow-motion shot on the crux of Evil Backwards gets me really excited every time I see it. I’m also really happy with a couple of the crane shots of Zach at night in Sedona. So there is a shot or two from every section that I hope people appreciate as much as I do.
DPM: Did all the climbers in fact climb these problems from start to finish? What are your thoughts on uncut footage and its relevance?
Nathan: Yes, every problem was completed by the climbers.
Let me preface my answer about uncut footage by saying that all video and photographs lie. They are selectively shot from a certain point of view and perspective and ideally capture what the photographer or cinematographer intends. Fisheye lenses, telephoto lenses, boosting saturation or contrast, Photoshop, digital post production; all of these things make accepting any imagery as “truth” or “proof” impossible. Calling it truth is an assumption that a lot of people make and it is a dangerous one. Footage is always manipulated (either by the camera, the photographer, even the very angle the camera is pointed at a problem will prove controversial because you may not be able to see every hold at any one time) and with high-end digital video editing software becoming more accessible to the average person, accepting imagery as truth is impossible. A question we have to ask is: Where does it end?
With that in mind, I think this debate is far less interesting than the forces that have created it. I see this discussion as having been triggered by the major climbing media platforms that have begun defining themselves directly though competition and the search for which climber is the ‘best’. By focusing on these aspects that, at their most basic level, divide the climbing world, the public image of rock climbing has lost its biggest asset: the ability to inspire. The negative aspects of the sport have become more important than the positive, and that is going to hinder the growth of our sport.
DPM: Worst day filming and why?
Nathan: Honestly, I don’t think we really had a bad day filming. If anything, traveling was the hardest part. There was a lot of sitting in airports, squeezing into tiny cars, driving, and general craziness you have to just deal with. Hiking 60 pounds of gear out of Wolverine Land every day in the dark was probably the most unpleasant aspect of the entire shoot.
DPM: Who are your backers in the film? Any sponsors?
Nathan: The film was completed with a great deal of support from The Island, Adrena Esporte e Aventura, and Singing Rock.
DPM: Thank you for your time. We look forward to your flick!