Wednesday, 7 October 2009

'Slate Monkeys' MSMD Part 1 of 4

In this series of four posts I want to give you some background and a sneak preview of each of the four films on Hot Aches Productions’ new DVD ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ or ‘MSMD’ as the kids call it.

Hazel Findlay on the MSMD disc artwork. Photo by Adrian Trendall, design by Ifan Bates.

MSMD Part 1 – ‘Slate Monkeys’

I was very fortunate to get this footage, it wasn’t exactly a planned shoot. Matt Segal was on a four-week climbing trip to the UK and although I had planned to catch up with him, we had no plans to shoot anything on the slate. I met him a week into his trip in the Vaynol Arms in Nant Peris.

Also in the bar that night was the young British climber, Hazel Findlay. After a lengthy debate on conditions and weather, we made plans to spend a couple of days climbing in the slate quarries of Llanberis.

Matt and Hazel in the Vaynol (pics Tom Kirby)

The next day while Matt and Hazel were attempting the esoteric slate classic Gin Palace, who should turn up but Johnny Dawes, nicely completing the line up for the film. What followed was six hours of them taking it in turn to besiege this crazy route. You’ll have to watch the film to find out which of them makes it to the top.

Matt Segal (pic Adrian Trendall)

I think one of the things which makes this film interesting is the contrast between the climbers: A professional sponsored athlete from the US, a young student from England, fairly new to the scene, and the British rock master.

Rock Master, Johnny Dawes (pic Adrian Trendall)

The Score

Very early on in the edit stage I commissioned my friend and regular collaborator Chris Hall to compose the music for the film. I asked him to write a theme for each climber, based on their personality. Later, these themes were arranged to make the score for the film. I wanted to be able to tell who was climbing just by listening to the music.

Chris Hall

Chris then scored the music to match the climbing action. Since Chris is a climber himself he’s able to appreciate the situations that the climbers face, dilemmas over whether to move a left hand or a right foot first, that tentative feeling which comes with a sketchy foot or a razor sharp crimp. He also included several subtle musical cues which follow the action on screen, for example as Hazel’s foot slips there’s a ‘twang’ of a guitar string.

Here’s a two minute clip from the film:

I think the star of this film isn’t the sponsored athlete, Matt Segal, or even the rock master, Johnny Dawes. In my opinion, it’s the new girl, Hazel Findlay, who steals the show:

Hazel Findlay attempting to onsight 'Rainbow of Recalitrance' E6


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