Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Story of The Best of Horsetooth Reservoir Bouldering Video

The two covers I used for the video.

Back in 2000, I was inspired to make a bouldering video after watching Josh Lowell's film "Big Up: Bouldering in the Gunks." Josh's film was fun, but what actually inspired me about it was how amateur it was. I thought "I can do that." Today Josh makes films that are so professional they discourage me. "I can't do that... I'll never try to sell a bouldering video again." Bouldering was still pretty new to me. I had made a couple trips to Hueco, and felt that Horsetooth bouldering and bouldering in general, hadn't gotten the exposure they deserved. I was still in the stage of bouldering where beta was really important. Now that I've been climbing for many years it's usually pretty easy for me to figure out how a problem can be climbed. At the time I needed beta, and I felt like other people needed it too. To promote bouldering at Horsetooth, and help myself and others get beta I started making the film.

I bought a digital 8 video camera, and Ashley bought a 5 gig Mac Powerbook with the first version of Imovie on it. I wrote down in a notebook what I believed were the 25 best problems at Horsetooth, and began filming. I enjoyed filming the problems. I let friends choose problems from the list that they wanted to climb. When no one else was out there, I filmed Ashley or myself. Sometimes I saw people climbing that I didn't know, and I asked to film them.

As I started editing the film together it began to feel more like work. With only five gigabytes of space on the computer, I had to edit the film in sections. I sent the first half of the film to John Gill, and he agreed to be interviewed. One of the highlights of making the film was meeting John, getting the interview, watching his garage workout, and talking with him about lucid dreaming.

More filming and editing followed. By the time I finished the film, it was hard to be excited about it. Scheduling the last few problems took a long time, and I saw all the footage so many times I could no longer tell if it was good or not. I tried to get rights for the music, but ASCAP didn't have a reasonable process or price to buy music rights for such a small film. I ended up cutting corners at the end. I used music from bands I thought could use some promotion without getting permission. I decided to use photos I already had in my collection for the cover rather than making another trip to Rotary to shoot one. The photos were pictures of me. I was accused of self-promotion for putting myself on the cover. My true motivation was laziness.

The worst part of the film making process was making the tapes, getting them into stores, and getting paid for them. The tapes were recorded in my VCR. I ordered the cases, cut the covers, and glued labels on all the tapes myself. Getting stores to carry the video often took several trips. The stores would buy a few at a time, and tell me I'd get the check in 30 days. Often I didn't get a check in 30 days, and I'd have to make calls to get paid. A lot of wasted time for 10-20 dollars of profit.

Over the next year and a half, I sold about 200 copies. About 130 sold in Ft. Collins and Boulder, about 30 through the website New England Bouldering, and 40 went to a climbing video dealer in Japan. I learned first hand how hard it is to make and distribute a climbing video.

I still enjoy some clips from the film. Here are my two favorite problems. Some of the most inspiring climbing I've ever witnessed.

1 comment:

chuffer said...

Nevermind the haters. I suspect your relationship with Horsetooth is a lot like mine with Flagstaff. Clearly, making a movie was something you were driven to do. It is important for all of us to engage in the creative process.