Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eat this.

We are just back from Fontainebleu and the weather was great! Cool and mostly dry, we climbed every day. Nalle was in good form and sending problem after problem as usual. Just one more segment to film, and pure will be complete! I'll do some more Europe blog posts later this week after I get back home and copy all my footage over to my big computer. I fly out of Zurich tomorrow morning, and I am looking forward to getting back just in time for Thanksgiving.

A while ago I mentioned that we tacked on a doritos commercial onto the end of the Nature Valley commercial shoot in California.

Okay, Here's the Doritos ad we made for the super bowl competition. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reality in the Alps

This evening I was on my way back from a mellow tourist day spent wandering around and looking at castles and the mountains, when I got on a train to take me up the hill to where Fran├žois Nicole lives. Also on this train were some other people including a man listening to euro-techno on his i-pod, some school girls, a young woman who stepped onto the train and politely said `bon jour´, and an older woman who was mentally unstable. This woman had the appearance of any homeless person in america, but minus the funny smells. She didnt smell like alcohol or cigarettes... she smelled sort of like detergent.

The train began to climb up the 45 degree incline and everyone on the train did what people normally do... avoid eye contact with each other and wait for the ride to come to an end. The homeless woman walked around the train and seemed to speak to imaginary people, and apparrently the imaginary people held up their end of the conversation and the lady seemed to have a nice and somewhat detailed discourse with them.

At the top of the train we departed and everyone walked up the stairs towards the center of the village. I was following the homeless woman and she was walking quite fast, seeming very intent on where she was going. The air was cold and I was curious to know where this lady was going to sleep tonight. In Denver, I often saw homeless people sleeping under bridges, or near steam pipes that remain warm throughout the night. As we approached the turn to Francois´ house, the lady turned abruptly and entered a building. The sign over the door announced the name of the shelter.

The people in Switzerland bear a huge cost for maintaining such an egalitarian society. Stuff here is expensive. Not just because of the geography of the place, but because the Swiss people insist on excellent public services and are willing to tax themselves and pay higher (some would say 'realistic') prices to achieve this. As I walk around the Swiss towns I often think to myself:

'Man, this stuff is expensive! Things are so much cheaper in Oman, where the wealth is built on the backs of cheap Indian and Pakistani labour... Things are so much cheaper in South Africa, where industry relies on refugee-labor to keep things comfortable for white people... Things are so much cheaper in America, where Mexican immigrants pick our vegetables for $2 per hour.'

Danielle Grangier, the wife of Fran├žois Nicole, tells me the immigrant labor force in Switzerland makes between 10 and 15 Francs per hour, which is about 10 - 15 dollars per hour, which amounts to a living wage. Even the lowest workers on the ladder are able to support themselves and raise a family.

Fucking Communists.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Switzerland and Fred

Switzerland is an amazing place. I have to say the people here have a very high standard of living. Things are expensive, but everything is clean and tidy and the trains are always on time. I have been filming Fred on some amazing stuff. Today we went to an area and as Fred was climbing there were huge orange leaves blowing across problem. Certainly some of the best video I've ever shot... an amazing athlete in a perfect setting doing incredible things.

Tomorrow I have a ticket to take the train down to meet Fred's brother Francios who is also a very strong climber. He will show me some new boulders he has and I am looking forward to adding another name onto the roster for Pure, especially someone so talented as Francois.

I have started my euro-english accent. Here's some stuff I said today:

"do you know where is the restroom?"
"he seems very sympatic" (french for 'friendly')
"what is the time of which these trains are running?"
"perhaps we first take a coffee and after that we catch the train."

Also part of the Euro-accent is speaking english slowly and more clearly than normal, so you all will have to forgive me when I get back to the US because I may speak to you as though english was your second language. sorry in advance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alex De'vaud, the Dreadlocked Swiss Guy

If you have spent any length of time in Hueco then you may have run into this interesting guy.

His name is Alex and I went bouldering with him yesterday at a sandstone cliff about one hour Southwest of Zurich. The area has sensitive access issues so I wont name it here. Alex is a great guy. Very strong, motivated for strange problems like 200-move traverses. If there were a 2000-move traverse, he would probably be on it right now.
His manner is strange but it's easy to tell that he posesses a very unique intelligence. Proof: his lifestyle. He works five months a year as a chemist here in Switzerland, and goofs off and travels and climbs the rest of the time. He spent the first two hours of our visit to the cliff picking up tiny bits of trash left by other climbers. Mostly cigarette butts and pieces of tape.

I dont think he brought any food for the whole day, but when he wanted to have some of my almonds, he said this:

"Do you know me to have some nuts?"

We climbed on a very hard problem for the whole day. I was told the problem was about V14 / V15, with only one repeat since Fred. Fred's beta looked interesting but I didn't even bother trying it because I find it slightly challenging to suspend my body weight on one finger with my feet pasted onto slippery pebbles. Alex gave me perfect beta but of course I tried my own way first and it didn't work, so his way was the best. On my best try I linked past the crux and then fell on the V6 drop-knee move. My hands were frozen and my forearms were completely dead. Darkness began falling and it was time for beer. I left empty-handed but it felt great to come so close to a hard problem. This was the first hard bouldering I have done since Rocklands this summer, and it felt good to pull hard again without too much pain.

I may have the opportunity to meet Fred's brother Francois who is also an amazing climber. Stay tuned for that. There is much happening here, especially when it comes to Fred's climbing. I wont discuss it here but maybe do a nice long post at the end of my trip. Long story short... Fred is the man. By the way, the above-mentioned V14/15 was first done by fred in 1994.

Pass the Humble Pie please.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I hope everyone is having a great day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not your normal evening

So at the end of the Nature Valley shoot we were all feeling pretty good, because we had shot some great material. We decided to work on a ad for Doritos that we will enter into the doritos super bowl ad competition. The odds of winning are low, of course, but it's worth a shot. And honestly, the shoot was so fun it was worth it no matter what.

Basically we found a bar called the Buckhorn and they have (not surprisingly) a deer head mounted on the wall. Darren and the rest of the team wrote some dialogue that basically set up the situation that the main character, Nelson, was in fact the hunter who shot the deer, and the whole situation is an awkward reunion. Nelson offers the deer some Doritos.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Today was day number two on the Nature Valley shoot. We worked very hard on the 'penultimate' nature valley shot, where our talent eats a granola bar and then we do some camera movement to reveal the landscape that they are looking at. It took quite a few tries to get the shot, but I think we were able to come up with some good material. Who ever edits the piece will have lots of options. It's a bit strange to be shooting a piece that will be edited by someone else. I'm very accustomed to shooting for my own edit needs and style, but not knowing what exactly the editor on this piece is looking for prompts us to be more thourough and make sure we have good coverage of all the various elements needed for the commercial.

Nelson has been in good form, lightening up the workload on me, and keeping things on the set light-hearted, which is very good to cut the stress inherent in the power-struggle that seems to be a constant source of frustration whenever producers and directors get together.

One interesting thing to note: during the interview portion of the shoot today, we had the athlete against a background of a high alpine lake. During the interview, with cameras rolling, a bald eagle dove to the surface of the water and took a trout from the lake. The actual take appears in the left portion of the video frame. Quite a coincidence... and very good luck.

Tomorrow we're working on a slightly different project. Details on that later.....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nature valley Mountain Biking

Today was day number one on the Downieville Nature Valley shoot. I am in California at the moment with a small crew and we are working on a commercial for the granola bar brand Nature Valley. Today was a 14-hour day (and it's not over yet) and we were out shooting from sun-up to sun-down. Right now the director is copying the video files over to their hard drive and previewing the take from the day.

This shoot is probably the biggest shoot I've DP'd (Director of Photography). Today there were as many as 6 people watching my work and offering advice and criticism and suggestions and opinions and questions etc etc etc. These gigs are stressful. My assistant Nelson did a great job of keeping us ahead of the tide of requests.

I have to say it's extremely nerve-wracking to have your work instantly reviewed by a gang of talented people. On the set today was:

Bret, the director
Derrell, the production company producer
Drew, our talent for the commercial
Wayne-O, the guide/ driver
Joe, the producer from the agency
Nelson, my assistant

Tomorrow looks like more of the same, but it's exciting to be at the focal point of a mainstream advertising shoot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I learned this in Kindergarten

There are people out there who are not nice,
and if you make something, they will try to tear it down.
But you should not be pulled to their level.
After all, they're the ones on the sideline.

I've noticed that most people are much meaner when they hide behind the mask of the internet. Is this because people are meaner than we think? Or are they just mean when they know the other side can't or chooses not to respond?

As a general rule, I dont engage in bad-mouthing anyone except republicans. It's hard to adhere to this philosophy all the time but I'm doing my best.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I wish I could afford the Biltmore.

Thank goodness, my worst fears proved to be false. I was worried that when Barack came out to speak last night to his supporters in Chicago, he was going to rip his face off to reveal George Bush, who would scream "HA!!! I got'cha A-Gin ya sunza bishes! THREE MORE YEARZ! er.... TWO MORE YEARZ!....

I don't really have too much to offer in the way of analysis of the election results, but I will offer this observation:

Obama's election party was in a public park in Chicago.
McCain's election party was at the Biltmore Hotel in Arizona.

I am happy with how the election turned out last night, and proud of my home state of Colorado for finally transitioning from red to blue. If I had to come up with a definition of the word Republican I might try this...

Republicans: A small group of intelligent, wealthy white men who use moral issues and patriotic rhetoric to leverage control over backwards-thinking rural simpletons, thereby reaching their true goal: getting people to fiscally fuck themselves with their own vote.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BJ Tilden

BJ Tilden has recently completed a very hard sport climb near Lander. I was lucky enough to get some footage of the route, called Orange for Anguish. BJ is a very talented climber and a good all-round guy. He was extremely hospitable and helped me get all the video I needed to make a cool video. If you would like to view the video at Momentum, follow this link:

BJ Tilden

This week I'm preparing for a commercial shoot in California and then I'm back to Colorado for ONE DAY before leaving for two weeks in Switzerland with my man Fred Nicole. Cant wait to chill with Fred again as he is a big influence in my understanding of the sport.