Filmmaker Jen Randall (that's me) and climber/writer Andy Kirkpatrick are teaming up to make a creative documentary based on Andy's Boardman-Tasker winning auto-biography, 'Psycho Vertical'. We shall call it... 'Psycho Vertical'. This is going to be a film about identity, about love, it will be funny, moving... all the things that make life brilliant, hard... worth it.
Andy Kirkpatrick is a world-class climber and alpinist who lives a life of conflicting desires and responsibilities. Though he knows the pain of living in poverty, pursuing his dreams comes before making a living. Though he battles with severe dyslexia, he has turned himself into an award-winning author. While compelled to share his life online and make audiences crumple with laughter on stage, he chooses to test himself on some of the world’s longest and most difficult climbs totally alone. And while a proud and doting father, he cannot help but put ambition over security, even if that means risking his life time and again.
By diving head-first into his past, his present and his motivation for pushing his limits to the absolute extreme, our aim is to explore themes of conflicting identities, the strength and futility of ambition, how our pasts shape us, drive us forward and stay with us all of our lives and of course... what it's like to solo a frickin' big wall... in detail. For real. YOLO.
The film will weave together four strands, which will include:
- An aid-solo ascent of El Capitan - the through-line of the film.
- Live performance - in stark contrast to the solitary time Andy chooses to spend/endure on El Capitan.
- Landscapes of the past - visiting Andy’s upbringing via a selection of significant personal landscapes and using excerpts from his book.
- Interview - an in-depth, one-to-one interview about life, climbing, motivation and everything in between.
To get a flavour of what a solo ascent of El Capitan looks like, check out Andy's self-shot video of Sea of Dreams:
Better ask Andy this one:
'Psycho Vertical, although I wrote it, is a really really good book, and it deserves to be made into a really really good film. I was always looking for a filmmaker to work with me on this idea, and then I ended up meeting Jen Randall. I’ve loved all the films that she’s made, no one else makes films like that. I think Jen has a very gentle, poetic kind of touch with her filmmaking, and that will work well with this idea. There’s going to be some poetry to the filmmaking and the story and also some really instense stuff about climbing and about people… I think we’re going to produce something with real depth and quality.'
I met Andy in Yosemite 2012. A friend and I had just realised we were far from ready to climb El Capitan, and Andy and his climbing partner Paul took us under their wing and gave us the confidence to go for it. We did, and we succeeded.
In 2014 Andy approached me with the idea of making this film, and I immediately knew it was an opportunity I couldn't let go of. I've always admired his brutally honest writing and performances as well as his gnarly climbing accomplishments and warm personality, and it turns out he admires the humanity and spirit in my films. It's been two years since he suggested we do this, and with films such as Project Mina and Operation Moffat under my belt via Light Shed Pictures, I feel ready to go for it. As a team I believe we are going to make something truly fresh and unique, and if you think so too then there's no doubt we will. Should I mention I've won loads of awards for my films? Loads.
This wave of fundraising has been set in motion to get the 'Psycho Vertical' team to Yosemite and a little ways beyond, landing us in a position to raise a second wave of funding to complete the film. As my biggest, most ambitious project to date, based on a book which deserves to be adapted thoroughly, authentically, and as Andy might say, really really well, I am determined to raise enough money so that we can put together the best team, get hold of the best kit and afford to put in the time, love and effort this project deserves. So far I have made a personal investment and we have received generous support from BMC TV and Montane, but we are a long way off securing all the funds we need to make this film happen. Not for long!
We're happy to share what this crowdfunding money will go towards - and that is largely to the people involved in making it, such as additional camera operators, safety guides, post-production specialists, music rights, and some of my own time directing, producing, shooting and editing the film. We will also be covering travel expenses, equipment hire, studio hire, insurance, marketing costs and Kickstarter fees. A lot of campaigns add a vague sort of pie chart here, we thought a money pie might be nice instead.
Our ambitions for this project are big and achieving them will come at a price - we need your help to make it possible!
It's our intention to build a community and spread the psyche for adventure through this project, and all of our backer rewards have been chosen with that idea in mind. We're thrilled to be able to offer what we feel are a great selection of thank you's in return for your support, from exclusive annotated copies of Andy's unique instructional books 'Me, Myself and I' and '1001 Climbing Tips' to gear from Montane and tickets to our Ask Andy event and the premiere in 2017.
Rewards will be delivered upon our return from Yosemite in November 2016 and all film downloads will be delivered post-premiere, pre-release.
Spread the Love Elsewhere
These days support also comes from views, likes, shares and followers, and you can do all of these things to help spread 'Psycho Vertical' in the following places:
Twitter: @psychovertical / @lightshedjen
Instagram: @psychovertical / @lightshedpictures
Thank you for your support and we'll see you at the premiere!
Risks and challenges
Every film poses challenges, often the kind you can't predict. As a filmmaker I feel my biggest challenge here is adapting a beloved, popular book into a film, maintaining it's tone and integrity while making something new. With my track record of films and Andy's support I believe I can do this, and with my recent experience of using Gwen Moffat's autobiography 'Space Below My Feet' as inspiration for 'Operation Moffat', I think I'm in a good position to do 'Psycho Vertical' justice. I also have the wisdom and knowledge of Steve Robinson, a producer and filmmaker with 25 years of experience making documentaries in wild places under his belt, to help guide me through this project.
Then there are logistics. Just being on a big wall is a massive challenge, so filming on one is even bigger and I won't lie - I'm daunted. I'm attacking this by arming myself with the most experienced team I could ever find - Andy of course, and Paul Tattersall who is a mountain guide and long-time climbing partner of Andy's. This way I know I'll be safe and can focus on getting creative.
There are lots of other challenges we will face, but truth be told I am quietly confident that we will get through the tough times and use them to make our film even cooler.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)