I was recently contacted by the online adventure film site SteepEdge enquiring about my short documentary Surf Shaper, I began crawling around their site, liked what I saw and got that kind of sicky excited feeling in the pit of my stomach, you know, the one where you feel like you’ve stumbled across a group of like-minded and niche pals. The site hosts rows upon rows of inspirational adventure films, professionally shot movies rubbing shoulders with amateur-produced flicks, documenting something as simple as one man’s outdoor nemesis and obsession, climbing an epic rock face which has until now, remained un-scaled – like a jagged yet shapely currently unmolested body of organic goodness.
When this genre of filmmaking first began to emerge, Brian Hall and friend John Porter wanted to help create a platform for these films to be shown and shared, they founded the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in 1979 and in 2008 transferred the running of the enterprise into a community charity, by then it had developed into one of the world’s leading mountain festivals. SteepEdge is a natural satellite endeavour for these guys showcasing niche mountain and adventure related films, available 24/7 to the worldwide outdoor community. Films for the climber, mountaineer, skier, trekker, polar explorer, mountain biker, BASE jumper, kayaker, glacial scientist, , snow leopard zoologist, artist, photographer, environmentalist and even Buddhist philosopher.
I tracked down SteepEdge Co-Founder Brian Hall who also happens to be the go to dude for mountain safety of movies such as the BAFTA award winning ‘Touching the Void’, it’s sequel ‘Beckoning Silence’, James Bond ‘Die another Day’ and the spectacular ice climbing opening sequence of ‘Alien vs Predator’.
Where are you right now?
I’m in Queenstown, New Zealand, I have a view of the hills which have a line of snow across them as only happens down here. Went climbing at Wye creek yesterday and mountain biking today.
How did you come up with the idea for SteepEdge and why did you decide to follow this idea through to fruition?
It was working and developing adventure film making for almost 30 years and during the success of the Kendall Film Festival that stimulated John and I to start a website making adventure sports films available to the public 24/7. Another important element for us was to allow film makers another avenue or ‘shop’ to sell their films and get a financial reward for all their hard creative work.
What have been the biggest highs and lows working on SteepEdge?
The biggest high was developing and launching the site. It took over a year and technology was and still is rapidly changing so the goal posts kept changing. But we made it and the site exists. The biggest low is trying to persuade some filmmakers that it is a good idea. This is particularly true with USA filmmakers who are hard to persuade, the concept being that the more outlets selling their film, the better it is for everyone.
Tell us a little about your adventuring background…..
I am a mountaineer and climber and spent my 20’s and 30’s as a professional climber and mountaineer. Then I trained as a mountain guide, set up a business in Chamonix, France taking people climbing in summer and skiing in winter, we called it ‘Mountain Experience’. This developed into specialising in providing film crews with safety, logistics and rigging and we changed the name to Film and Mountain.
What is your greatest outdoor adventure memory so far and why?
Climbing Jannu which was my first Himalayan peak alpine style as a small team of four. Because it was hard but we succeeded!
What are your aspirations for SteepEdge?
To develop the site further by getting 500 films on the site which will give the public a great service and resource to enjoy adventure sports films and also provide much needed income for film makers so they can continue making more great films.
You’ve got some incredible films listed on the site, if you could pick your top 3 that have blown you away, which would they be and why?
Amongst our greatest supporters have been Leo Dickinson, Alastair Lee and Paul Diffley. I would choose any films from these wonderful filmmakers.
Where do you live and what do you spend your time doing?
I spend half my time in the Peak District, UK and the other half in Queenstown, New Zealand. I am an IFMGA international mountain guide specialising in providing safety, logistics and rigging for film companies. I also work as a consultant for Scarpa, Grivel and Mountain Equipment, then I also help to run SteepEdge.
When you’re not up a mountain or rigging up crew and actors and have some downtime, what will be find you doing?
Rock Climbing or Road Biking, hanging out with my wife Louise and drinking a glass of wine or beer and listening to music.
If you could give 15 year old you one piece of advice what would it be?
Do not think that you have to make rigid decisions on what you are going to do in life. Accept that things will continually change throughout your life and you need to go with the flow and do what you are good at and enjoy doing. Live your life to the full
What do you have on the agenda for the remainder of 2014?
I worked non stop for the first 4 months of the year and have already been round the world twice so now I’m renovating my new house, going climbing in Provence then going to Glastonbury Festival (for the first time)!
Please finish the following sentences:
My pet peeve is: Bureaucracy getting in the way of progress, work and enjoyment. Imminent Danger is: No wine or beer in the fridge.
The swear word I use the most is: fuck
Nobody knows this but sometimes I…… Dream of being young again
Is there an adventure that you’d love to take on but haven’t as yet?
I have just bought my self a triathlon wetsuit and learned to swim freestyle. I’m trying open water swimming and recently did my first half Iron Man. Along with climbing and biking I have no more time or energy for anything else. I much prefer doing things well and to some depth and skill rather than trying a load of things at a superficial level.