As part of the Nat Geo presentation at Deadline’s fourth annual The Contenders Emmys, the filmmakers from the Oscar- and BAFTA-winning documentary Free Solo joined me to discuss the remarkable human feat of free solo mountain climber Alex Honnold, and how they managed to capture it all on film.
Joining me in front of a packed audience of TV Academy and guild voters at Paramount Studios lwere co-director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of photography Clair Popkin and film editor Bob Eisenhardt, who won the ACE Eddie award for his work on the project. It all took four years of work to bring those few hours of Honnold’s historic free climb of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan in 2017 to fruition, and the film, now eligible for Emmys due to its run on Nat Geo, was also one of the top-grossing theatrical docus last year.
Vasarhelyi describes how challenging their work was in translating the experience of Alex’s climb to the viewer. Popkin, an experienced climber, says that for the artists behind the cameras they also had to be adept and familiar with the mountain. Eisenhardt discussed how he weaved it all, from multiple cameras, into a compelling story on different levels, and how music (the score is by Marco Beltrami) and sound also were so key in bringing it all home.
Check out our conversation in the video above.
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