On July 8, 2015, atombash.com was on the scene for a New York special screening of new documentary “Meru,” which is being released by Music Box Films. Jon Krakauer served as host for the evening. He was joined by directors/producers Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi. The screening was held at Cinema 2 in midtown and a very cool party followed at The Explorers Club. In the documentary, after suffering dramatic setbacks in their personal lives, three close friends (Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk) who are among the world’s best professional climbers battle their complicated pasts, inner demons and nature’s harshest elements in an attempt to confront the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most technically complicated and dangerous peak in the Himalayas. Newsweek said that the film is one of the best documentaries of the year. Jimmy Chin is also known for his work on “The Wildest Dream.”
Chin said that he always wanted to make a film that spoke to the things that were really powerful for him in climbing and spoke to the experiences that he had as a climber and really gave an honest look at what it is to be a professional climber. The mentorship, the friendship are really what climbing is about, and not the other way around. He thinks that most of the film is about what happens around the climbing and he hopes that it gives people a really good understanding and view of what it is to be a professional, and the risks, and the complex decisions, and often very difficult decisions that you have to make.
Read our exclusive interview below:
E: Jon was talking about the new Everest movie and the difference between this film and that, so can you share your thoughts on that?
Jimmy: Well, I haven’t seen the film so I can’t really speak about the film, but I have been to Everest and it’s a very different type of climbing and very different type of experience. It’s not better or worse, but it’s different and I really wanted to show what the cutting edge of big mountain, high altitude, alpine climbing is. I think that people only equate mountain climbing with one thing and they think it is Everest, and I don’t believe that Everest is necessarily representative of all types of climbing so this is a look at a very different type of climbing, a very technical side of climbing. And like I said, the film is really about the mentorships and the friendships and the impossible decisions that you are faced with sometimes.
E: And since you were also the cinematographer, can you also talk about the challenges of climbing and filming at the same time?
Jimmy: Yeah, it’s definitely challenging to add the filming on top of the climbing but it really was a culmination of my experiences as a climber and as a filmmaker to make the movie. But we didn’t have unlimited power and we didn’t have a DIT, we weren’t looking at dailies. We had to shoot very selectively and so we had to be a lot more thoughtful and slow down a bit and take and get the right shots but in this type of climb it was critical for us not to slow down the climbing from the shooting. Climbing the mountain was still the main objective and shooting was secondary. So, we did a lot of – just trying to be really careful of when we shot and how we shot.
E: The entire film talked about going up the mountain and moving upward but I’m curious as to what it is like going down the mountain so can you share the process of going downwards?
Jimmy: Coming off the mountain is very dangerous because statistically, most accidents in the climbing of big mountains happen on the descent because you have kind of let your guard down a little bit. So you have to be extra vigilant on the descent. Not a lot of people think about that because you have summited – if you are not necessarily aware of and have that experience, it is easy to get complacent in the descent. And we, as professionals and having done it a lot, you know that you have to be hyper vigilant on the descent.