Tuesday, 20 October 2009

'Monkey See, Monkey Do' - DVD Released

‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ is now available to order from our webshop and you can now watch the trailer here. Thanks go to Ben Knapp for his work on the trailer.

Thank You Benjamin Knapp

'Single-Handed' Premiere

This last weekend saw the premiere of ‘Single- Handed’ when it played to a packed house at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival.

The reception was fantastic, Kevin received a huge round of applause when he took to the stage after the filmed was screened. To get an idea of what an EMFF crowd sounds like, see:

‘Single-Handed’ went on to be awarded ‘Best Climbing Film’ and the ‘People’s Choice’ award. Thank you to everyone who voted, I’m glad so many of you enjoyed the film.

‘Single-Handed’ is also a finalist at the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival, together with ‘Slate Monkeys’. Both of these films will also play at the Kendal Mountain Festival and maybe a few other festivals over the next year.


Friday, 9 October 2009

‘Single Handed’ MSMD – Part 2 of 4

The second film on the DVD is a profile of someone who must be one of the world’s most psyched climbers, Kevin Shields.

Kevin Shields (pic Steven Gordon)

All top climbers talk about calculated risk, but Kev pushes the margins of his ‘calculations’ closer to real limits than any other climber I’ve ever seen. It can be terrifying to watch. Even the detachment from the action that comes from being behind the camera does not offer any protection from that terror.

Kevin Shields (pic Steven Gordon)

I’ve been filming Kev since early 2006. Some of the footage I shot then was used in Committed Vol I, but the rest of it has gone unseen until now. This year I’ve filmed Kev both in the Peak District and the Highlands and, without wishing to give away too much of the story, have captured some really special moments, from ecstasy to extreme tension. Even during the editing process, watching short clips back has left my palms damp…and I already know what happens!

For me good films are all about emotion. For a film to be great it has to make you laugh and make you cry. Films that do both stick with you. One emotion that you should experience when watching Single-Handed is frustration. This was highlighted when I was adding subtitles as an option to the DVD. In this scene Kev is struggling with the crux move on an E7.

00:14:31:23,00:14:33:17, That's just never possible.
00:14:33:17,00:14:34:17, F**king F**K
[Big fall /slide down the slab]
00:14:37:05,00:14:38:11, Oooh ya f**ker ye
00:14:38:21,00:14:39:21, F**K F**K F**K

"F**K F**K F**K"

00:14:57:14,00:14:58:14, Argh F**K IT
00:15:02:02,00:15:03:15, Nah, it's just never gonnae work, Gaz.
00:15:04:15,00:15:05:15, Lower us down now.
00:15:07:20,00:15:08:20, F*ck

So just for Kev we've added a special warning to the DVD cover:

"Warning contains some effing and blinding"

The Score
‘Single-Handed’ has a light score in terms of music. We recorded some good location sound from the radio mic Kev was wearing, so I wanted to make maximum use of that in the mix. You may have noticed in other films that the breathing of a scared climber can add much more tension than any music, so most of this film uses an atmospheric soundscape rather than a musical score.

The one track I have used is by the singer/songwriter Francis Hayes and is called “Friday, Saturday, Sunday”. I had this track on an old CD that was recorded live in a pub in Stirling. I really liked the track, but the recording quality was quite poor.

singer/songwriter Francis Hayes

Since this was the only version of the song ever recorded I managed to persuade Francis to re-record this track especially for the film. This allowed us to adjust the length of the intro to match the opening sequence. Francis and I spent some time in Chris Hall’s home recording studio to get the piece just right for the film. Chris added some bass guitar to Francis’ original acoustic and worked his sound engineer’s magic to complete the track.

Chris Hall happy with the track

This short clip from the film shows Kev enjoying the wonderful line of ‘Traveller in Time” at Ramshaw Rocks in Staffordshire.

World Premier at EMFF

The World Premier of Single-Handed will take place on Sunday 18th October at 7pm at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival in the George Square Theatre. Kev will be there to answer a few questions after the film.

Tickets and details can be found here:

I’m really excited about seeing the audience’s reaction to this film. I may not manage to make everyone laugh and cry, but I'm sure its a film that will generate some emotion and leave your palms damp.


Kev is sponsored by

Mountain Equipment and Wild Country

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