More climbing…and the infiltration of the film industry

Yes, I am becoming progressively more and more obsessed with climbing. And yes, I am going on my first Midwest climbing trip this weekend (specifically, the “Horseshoe Hell” competition in Jasper, Arkansas). But alas, there’s more to this! The climbing community has become increasingly more and more open to documenting their experiences as they expand and develop. A new film by Andrew Kornylak and Josh Fowler, A Fine Line, sets out to document the journey of several boulder climbers from the deep south to the western states. Bouldering is different from top roping (what most people think of when thinking of rock climbing, with a person belaying the climber with a pulley-rope system) in that it requires no ropes, no harnesses, no attachment. Normally and in most gyms, bouldering is a quick experience in which you can develop specific skills for different holds and body positions, but it does not require the endurance of lead, trad or sport climbing or top roping. When I used to climb before college, I loved to boulder, and seeing these guys do it for longer periods of time on absolutely ridiculous rock faces, it’s equally mind-blowing and frustrating. It’s people like this that keep me going forward. Here’s the preview for the documentary film:


But besides the climbing aspect, I like how the docu-journalism (yes, new word) where documentary-style films are portraying the real life stories of people (e.g. climbers). These documentary-style pieces make it appealing to wider audiences in the same way that a regular movie does. The preview gets people excited, anticipated. While pieces like this aren’t necessarily (and don’t seek out to be) journalism, they tell an honest human interest story just as successfully and journalistically as a written piece or broadcast would.

Screen shot from A Fine Line.

I like the fact that real stories, not concocted, elaborate ones, have become a starlet of the theatre. With famous documentaries like Project Nim, exposes like Fahrenheit 9/11 and pseudo-documentaries like 127 Hours, The Motorcycle Diaries and Into The Wild, the “real life” aspect of film is becoming more and more popular. I think that interpretations like 127 are fantastic, but I also think that telling the real story with the actual people is fantastic when possible. Journalism seems to be gradually pushing its way into the film industry, and with film moguls and skyrocketing prices and costs, I see no reason why this is a bad change. The only issue would be if people were unable to tell the difference between fictitious stories, real journalistic stories, and reinterpretations/reenactments. This would be the responsibility of the film maker to determine how to portray and explain to the audience his or her piece.

Screen shot from A Fine Line.

This weekend, a fellow journalism student and climber got access to a film and a DSLR camera to document our experiences. I hope that some good stuff can come out of it. While I can’t take out equipment for that long and take it camping in Arkansas with me without making the J-school have a heart attack, I will definitely be taking some shots of my own. There’s no reason not to document life, and that’s what I love what I am able to do with the J-school and the climbing community. We’ll see if this develops into something fantastic later on!



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