I am ready

So, enjoy the freeform brainstorm. Writing is part of my process now…which is not something that was involved in any of the other films that I have done. 

It’s weird okay? Coming “back” to making a movie on any topic, after a forced 3 year hiatus for any filmmaking, it’s super strange. I am super excited, but yeah, it’s super strange also.

I just finished watching “The Offer” on Paramount+ as inspiration. I want to try things in this movie that I have never tried before. But before I really start cutting things down on the timeline I need to have a mantra. I need to know what it is for. Why am I about to spend about 80 hours making this thing when I could otherwise be outside, doing yoga, paddleboarding, swimming, hiking, making new friends?  Why? What’s it all about anyway…you know?

Taking stock, by the numbers:

-I have about 6 hours of footage on the timeline in the sequence everything was shot. 

-The 6 hours is the combination of 5 separate days of filming in 5 different locations.

-All the footage involves myself and John solely, with different natural areas playing the other characters. 

-It’s a straight up documentary, no acting, nothing is staged, complete non-fiction. 

-I began filming in 2017.

-My last day of filming was May of 2022.

-I never thought that this film would take 5 years to make. I planned on having it done in 2018.

I can’t really start unless I write down why it has taken 5 years. Other projects of immediacy came into play…my favorite forest was about to get cut down…so I made a movie against that. Another favorite forest connected to my family was about to be turned into a 400 foot deep stone quarry forever, so I made a movie to raise awareness about that one as well. I discovered by accident what was going on with factory scale farming of salmon in the oceans around the globe and then began a big project on that topic. I wanted to have this film daylighted and seen…but the timing wasn’t right. Then came my mom’s dementia and cancer and my sudden move to where my parents lived to help them out. All film work ceased for 3 years. Oh…and there was a worldwide pandemic. While everyone else was finding their inner creator and launching podcasts…I was living in a very tough situation as a full time caretaker as my mom lost her mind and her life…not a good time to edit a movie. 

Everything happens at the right time. Even when we don’t want it to be the right time, when it happens, is when it is right. I am glad that this movie has taken so long to get to. Because now I have a fully different approach to what this footage means to me. The outdoors, it saved my life. While being a caregiver, being outside and furthermore, bouldering- (rock climbing without ropes or gear) was what helped me hang on to sanity. Wildness saved me. The feel of stone under my fingertips and the pinched toes in my La Sportivas helped me remember what is good in life. And that is what John was telling me back in 2017. He was always holding the museum quality pitons or other gear from the late 1960’s…sure. But what he was always talking about was how climbing was about friendship and sharing the adventure, and being in beautiful places and protecting the places you love to recreate in. His message makes so much more sense to me now than when we began. 

I will admit that I feel no small amount of pressure to get it right. I want this movie to communicate clearly to a climbing and non climbing audience, what is good in life. How does one make a film about climbing that doesn’t have any actual climbing footage in it…and keep the audience engaged? For me, to my way of thinking…that is my task. I have to choose which parts of John’s illuminations and ruminations rise to the top. It’s a bit daunting. I think also the pressure is on because this movie is the first one I am working on since my life had that major 3 year detour. But also it’s on a topic that is near and dear to me. If any label describes me thoroughly, it’s “climber”…more specifically “boulderer”. I have been climbing now since 1991. Check the calendar. 30 years ago I started bouldering and I haven’t stopped yet. It matters to me a lot. And so, this film is quite special to me. My hope is that those who watch it either discover or rediscover how bouldering or climbing is such a rarified and special undertaking.

The transcripts are done and marked up.
I have post it notes splayed out all around.
I am ready.

Follow the journey on https://oldschoolstone.wordpress.com

Me. June 2022. McKenzie Pond Boulders, ADK, NY. Doing research for the film lol.

Yo, Where is Charlie?

Right now I am listening to Hwa Sa “TWIT”. If you don’t currently watch Kpop, and the way that they edit and light videos in South Korea, you are really missing out. This week I was also blown away by an intro for Season 1 Episode 8, “The Widow” on Amazon. The music featured a song by Cage The Elephant. Even if you don’t watch the episode, just watch the intro until the music starts. What I appreciate about it, is that without a single word of narration, the visuals and the music show the true cost of where the materials inside of our cell phones come from. It’s ugly. It’s true. It’s powerful. It’s beautiful. It’s a good use of video.

Right now I am working and temporarily still bouncing around houses in Warren, VT. But (drumroll!) I have finally acquired housing in Plattsburgh, NY. Why? Why Plattsburgh? I admit, it’s not exactly a place people are flocking to live. It’s got an odd post industrial vibe for sure and needs a lot of work. But the rents there are so much lower than in Burlington. And Burly is where I will be mainly working on my non video stuff. From June til November I will be working at the University of Vermont full time on a very fun project. I will still be doing video work, consulting and non profit stuff. But I am very excited about finally having a place to put my feet up for a while. It also gets me closer to Saranac Lake and Mirror Lake. Two fantastic winter destinations that I adore.

The best part about living in Plattsburgh is the commute to work. I have to take a ferry to cross Lake Champlain. I like ferries almost as much as I like skiing.

Anyway, I have been busy working on making connections for my Caretaking: The Untold Story . I had a great convo today with a woman who has been working on the topic of dementia for decades.

I have also been starting to slowly envision where I want Old School Stone: A Climber Looks Back to go. I have a deadline…the Carrboro Film Festival is accepting submissions until August 1. My old mentor Bradley Bethel is the organizer. He helped me get my start in making a living by making short films and video editing. I don’t expect any special favors though lol..he’s a tough critic! But this is yet another film that has been on the backburner for far too long. John, the subject of the film, lives in Carrboro. If I can finish the film, and it gets accepted into the festival…and he can go and sit in that audience and watch it, that will be totally amazing. To be blunt, John is over 80 years old. I want to get this thing locked in while he can still totally enjoy it.

Finally I am working locally on a gig where I am helping someone do a major overhaul of all of their digital assets. They have roughly 50K images in their iCloud Photos. Yep. A lot. And they have images on various older phones and laptops and SD cards and so forth. What the mission is, is to take all of these images and organize them by year and then park them on a new 18TB NAS drive. NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage”. I have had to do so much with file storage and management during my time editing videos and photos, that I have developed a real knack for this kind of thing. I understand drives, all storage media formats, and can switch back and forth easily between Mac and Windows. It may sound like boring work, but I like it. And honestly tons of people are in my new client’s situation right? Who hasn’t lost control of where all their photos and videos are located?

Another highlight from this week was when I was interviewed for a podcast. Pic below…

Howard’s podcast is called Plant Yourself. We had a really great conversation. The interview isn’t live yet, but it’s coming! I will definitely post it here once it is ready. I think it may also be included in video format as well. He asked me a lot about process. About how and why I got into being a documentarian. It was really rad.

Soon I leave my housesitting gig here in Warren. Then I head south in early May to visit my dad. Then I will be in NC for nearly a month, visiting friends, my daughter. I will also be doing a bit of additional filming for Old School Stone.

I will also be taking a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course with Landmark Learning. I am so so so psyched to be taking this class. The reason most of my work is centered around the outside world is because I spend so much time there. Just check out my Instagram for the proof of that. Being a WFR (again) has been a long time dream of mine. With the WFR I can be on ski patrol, lead outdoor trips, volunteer at medical relief shelters and be well informed for all my own trips, which are often in wilderness areas.

It’s hard to describe the relief of knowing that I will l finally have housing for 4 months. Yeah I am excited about having a place for only 4 months. That’s what happens to you when you are out here in this housing crisis madness…even 4 months in one apartment seems really exciting and miraculous.