CONFESSION: I have been a fan of Sender Films for so long that this profile is way past due. For those who don’t know Sender by name, you’ve almost certainly seen their work.
Their annual REEL ROCK FILM TOUR (which they produce in partnership with Big UP Productions) has grown to an iconic event in the climbing community, showing up in over 400 cities worldwide and featuring a “who’s who” of climbing legends: Chris Sharma, Dean Potter, Alex Honnold, and Sasha DiGuilian to name just a few.
I attended a Reel Rock 7 event in Hermosa Beach, California last fall and it was an awesome, crowd pumping show. Especially “La Dura Dura” a climbing showdown film that pits the super chill Chris Sharma against the howling Czech upstart Adam Ondra. The route (a 5.15c in Oliana, Spain) withstood both climbers during the shooting of the film.
On February 7, 2013 Climbing magazine reported that Adam succeeded finally in conquering the route. After nine weeks. Nine. Talk about wanting it.
This brings us to the heart of what I think Sender Films does best. Pete Mortimer and his partner Nick Rosen pride themselves not just in groundbreaking cinematography, but in great storytelling. With humor and passion and just the right dose of interviews, they invite us inside the heads of the men and women undertaking these amazing challenges.
You can feel their passion for the sport in every shot. They are just incredibly creative filmmakers, designing, rigging, and probably inventing every kind of camera system imaginable to get the shot.
HOW DID IT START?
Like all good stories, it starts with two friends doing what they love. Climbing in Colorado. Pete Mortimer and Nick Rosen met in college, then regrouped after graduate school when Nick joined Pete’s Sender Films and the two got busy making some pretty serious mountain films.
There was the First Ascent Series for National Geographic TV, a six part project digging deep into the lives of Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, Chris Sharma and their own close friends and cameraman, who died tragically in an avalanche on Mt. Edgar, China in May of 2009.
There is a kind of fearlessness in such filmmaking. Not just for the physical risks to get cameras into position, but for the kinds of personal exposes that unveil the obsessions, the anger, and sometime the downright madness of their subjects.
None of this will be news to the fans of the Reel Rock tours, who show their loyalty and appreciation year after year by packing little movie houses all over the world. But if you don’t hang in this world, if you haven’t seen what Sender Films sends, you’re in for a treat.
Just click on their tour schedule to see if one of these screenings is coming near you. And if it isn’t… think about banding together with some folks to host one. It’s a damn fine use of two hours and you might even make a few new friends doing it.
How’s that story start again? Two friends meet while climbing…