Keith Bradbury interviewby Björn Pohl - UKC Nov/2009
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Here's an interview with Keith Bradbury aka Uncle Somebody, the man behind Between the trees. Again, I can't take credit it for this one as it was made by my friend Pierre Délas who works for Kairn. So if you prefer to read it in French, you can find it here.
Let's start with the presentation. Where do you live? What?s your job? Pro climber? Tell us more about yourself!
A few months ago I moved from the UK to Innsbruck, Austria. I decided that I would be able to get more from myself over there and give myself a better opportunity to do what I love to do, which is rock climbing! I don?t have a job at the moment, which is good and bad. I graduated last year with a BSc in Mathematics and Economics, but I haven?t looked for a ?real? job yet because I am still focused on my climbing. I have no climbing sponsors, which is for one reason only; I once asked 5.10 for sponsorship and they told me I wasn?t good enough, but were kind enough to list the criteria. Once I reached that level I didn?t even consider emailing them because I think a company should support not the best climbers, but help the ones who are trying to become the best along their path. I hope that now things are different for other people.
It?s not the first time you are involved in a climbing video production. What is your experience? Some words about last year?s North Face Euro road trip?
In 2008 I kind of fell into making a film about my trip to Fontainebleau, and I ended up putting it on my website for everyone to download for free. It was a donation based system, which was also an interesting experiment for me. I read a lot of literature on economics, so this was a chance to test some of it out. A lot of people saw L?Étranger, and some were impressed! After a recommendation to The North Face I was asked if I wanted to join the Summit Series Road Trip as cameraman! It was a really great trip and was a unique opportunity to do something amazing that only a big company like TNF can support.
How have did you come up with the idea to produce films about bouldering in Font? Why in France and not make something about climbing in the UK? When have you done the shooting?
I love climbing in Font. I don?t know why I love it so much but for me it is my favourite climbing area. Perhaps it?s because it was the first area I ever visited abroad, or maybe it?s just because the rock is perfect and the setting beautiful. There are so many blocs in the forest and I just want to share it?s goodness with other people. Originally, I didn?t intend to make a film, but L?Étranger just sort of happened naturally. This year I knew that spending some months with Tyler would provide plenty of footage, so I thought other people would be interested to see it. For me, climbing in the UK is not so inspiring. There are some world class routes and boulder problems, but not so many, and I don?t really like climbing on Limestone. I have very bad skin which tears very easily and I am quite heavy (73-75kg), so I find it very difficult and unpleasant to pull on small sharp crimps!
Speak about the spirit of your first production ?L?étranger: 85 days in Font?. In the spirit and the content what is different (except the size) with this new movie ?Between the trees??
L?Étranger was never meant to be a film. I just filmed all my days climbing and after my trip I thought ?wow, I have a lot? so I just put it all together. My original idea was just to film them for me to remember those special moments, but then I thought maybe other people would like to see how great the forest can be. Between The Trees was different, because I always knew it would be a film about Tyler?s trip. L?Étranger was a lonely trip in some ways, but this year it was very different with Tyler. He would always support me and I would always support him! We had two sayings which we would use a lot ?P.M.A? (positive mental attitude) and ?La reve est vie?! We said these things many times every day!
Another difference was that I wanted to show people a little of the character of Tyler. L?Étranger was like a guidebook, but I think Between The Trees is more human as you get more insight into Tyler and me.
How and why did you get the idea to cooperate with Tyler Landman?
Tyler is a really good friend of mine. We spent the end of 2008 together in Switzerland and whilst stuck in the snow a plan was made to go to Font! It was the last big area which Tyler had never visited, so it made sense to go there! He had crushed everything else, but he didn?t know if he would (or could) crush Fontainebleau! It was a new challenge for him! I am always motivated to go climbing with Tyler because he is always positive, he is always encouraging, and he is fun. This is the most important thing! We had a lot of fun!
Do you follow a precise plan, thought or methodology before catching some images? Or was it done on the place, with feelings of the moment, where you decide afterwards what you will make of the footage?
That?s a good question. We never really went out at a certain time of day, or went back to boulder problems to film them. Everything you see in the film was filmed on the actual ascent (maybe with the exception of 1) so it was all very real. What the camera records is how we actually live our lives. We wake up and we go climbing because it is what we love to do. We didn?t make plans to film certain problems on certain days, no, we just went climbing and I tried to record everything as best as I could.
How many cameramen? What equipment did you use?
Cameramen? Ha ha. Just me. Sometimes Tyler would become cameraman number 2, but I?m not a professional and Tyler is a better climber than a film maker! I recorded everything on a Canon HV20 with a number of lens and microphone accessories.
Your video production and film references? (climbing films and cinema movies)
I love sparse films, like Gattaca, or Solaris. I also have a huge huge love for all Wes Anderson films (Life aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited, etc). I love films that contain beautiful composed shots and are coloured in a certain way, much like Gattaca. Also films like Old Joy, and many indie films which are just beautiful but not so much in the public eye. In terms of climbing films, I rate The Real Thing very highly, but I also love Rampage (for it?s in the moment style), and also Memento for it?s exceptionally high production value.
Do you have any anecdote to describe (from when you were filming)?
We forgot to turn the microphone on a lot of the time. Or I would do a problem and Tyler would say ?errmm, I think you will need to do it again because I moved the camera?. I also forgot to press record one time! The outtakes (on the DVD) give an idea of the fun we had trying to film the intro, where it often took more than 1 attempt to get it right!
An advice to follow for making good climbing videos?
I don?t think I?m qualified in this arena! Maybe ask Josh Lowell or Ben Pritchard! My only advice is show people what you love. If you?ve done that, you?re work is complete.
Your favorite area in Font (and why ?)
That?s very difficult. I love Rempart for all the amazing blocs, but I hate it also because it is too close to the crowds of people. For me, no area is the best because there are such good blocs at each one!
Your favorite boulders in Font (and why ?)
For me, Partage is one of my best ever memories in climbing. To me, it is one of the best lines in the forest. Other favourite boulders include Amok, Ubik, and Gecko. Each has such perfect moves, but also many of the blocs in Between The Trees are personal favourites. Things like Peter Pan and Rencard and still enjoyable even though I have done them before! Also, the classics are important, so Karma is at the top of that list!
Other projects (videos, trips, sends,...) for the future ?
The future is an open book. I don?t know what it will bring, but I once heard a wise man say ?Look after what you love, and what you love will look after you?. I feel like life will lead me down a good path. I have a lot of trust in things always working out... but life has never let me down yet!