Free Solo: A Conversation on Risk-taking in Front of the Camera
"I’ve spent years debating my responsibility in glamorizing, demonizing, or anatomizing that fact."
I got a chance to speak with the filmmaking and life partners Jimmy and Chai on their new film about Alex Honnold, and also ruminate on my own experiences when it comes to risk when filmmaking within the climbing world. Above is an excerpt from my introduction.
"The particular act of filming a free solo is a thorny subject in the climbing community, and for good reason. On the one hand, it’s a dramatic subject: Doesn't the examination of life or death perfectly fit the point of filmmaking? On the other hand, free soloing is usually a private, highly focused act where filming could inadvertently create enough distraction to cause the climber to fall to his or her death.
There are darker implications. Is filming the free soloer, at its philosophical core, entertaining an audience whose joy is predicated on the possible outcome that the climber might fall—in essence, commodifying death? These are questions non-fiction filmmakers wrestle with in all fields; here, I don’t claim to know the answer. Almost 10 years ago, I interviewed climbing legend John Bachar, who is referenced in Vasarhelyi and Chin's film. A few months after our interview, Bachar died free-soloing. I’ve spent years debating my responsibility in glamorizing, demonizing, or anatomizing that fact."
Read the full story here.