Mountainfilm Blog

Mountainfilm's blog has evolved quickly and steadily to become the engine that drives Mountainfilm.org. This steady current of images, words and action carry global news about Mountainfilm themes, issues and personalities. Please join in the conversation, and let us know what you think about the cultural, environmental and socio-political issues and  heroes of adventure and activism that we highlight.

The Beauty of Creating

In this world there are creators and consumers. I have always had mentors who told me that it is better to create than to consume, no matter what the creation. Whether it’s words or images, creating something is to give, to provide inspiration, even lessons, to others and to share with the global community. In creating, you are more closely connected with those around you, your work influencing and shaping the thoughts of others.

But sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a creator. Many of my friends work in the film industry, creating tangible things, and I have been known to doubt my own abilities. This probably happens to any creative, no matter what their field.

Protecting Wilderness: The Highest Act of Self-Respect

Something within us yearns to know the unbroken portions of a map, those areas not crisscrossed by roads or even foot trails. Similarly, we yearn to know which bird sings so sweetly from high in the forest, which plants feed the mule deer, or where the bear by the lake sleeps in winter. This world of mystery anchors the lives of all species, ours included.

I never thought about wilderness as a child. We grew beefsteak tomatoes and crookneck squash in our Tennessee garden, caught crawdads and turtles in the creek and spent hours climbing our respective branches of the sprawling mimosa tree, counting its seeds like money. My Brooklyn-raised father thought wilderness was an empty lot down the street from his brownstone where he played stick ball with his friends.

Show Everyone Your Heart: An Interview with Animator Jilli Rose

Who, or what, inspires you and how does that translate into your work?

Two Fathers of Fame

Growing up as the son of two of the world’s most renowned alpine and high-altitude mountaineers has been no ordinary childhood. My father, Alex Lowe, was off in the mountains more of than he was around me. On October 4, 1990, seven days before my second birthday, he became the fortieth American to reach the summit of Mount Everest successfully. I flew to Thailand with my mother to meet him, making my first intercontinental travel as a two year old.

I’ve gotten used to meeting people and them asking, “Lowe, like Alex Lowe, the climber?” As I move through life, I’m continually amazed by the people who knew my father and looked up to him, not only for his prowess as a climber, but for his integrity, compassion and life-loving nature as a person. I was first exposed to the magnetic effect he had on people after he died in 1999 in an avalanche on Shishapangma, a peak high in the Tibetan Himalaya. Over the next few months, my family received hundreds of consoling letters from friends, coworkers and even people who had never met Alex, sharing how he had influenced or impacted their life.

The Art of Storytelling: A Filmmaker's Tip

As a mountain person I am familiar, all too well, with the stories that present themselves in the mountains — the quest to go higher, the drive to push farther and the epically stunning imagery waiting to be captured at the top. There is the ever-present danger of death, methods of survival and related tales to tell about each adventure. I know. I was caught in an avalanche…once upon a time.

But here's the catch: We don't want our friends or family to encounter danger and hardship. So how do we plan to find compelling stories in the mountains without putting lives on the line?

This is the contradiction I face every time I make a film about mountain adventure.  To document something "risky,” we’re counting on real life danger for dramatic effect.  I generally choose the alternative: Find a story in another piece of the human experience.

Wilderness Joy from an Artist’s Perspective

When I was asked to make the awards for Mountainfilm 2014, I was thrilled about taking on a new challenge. But as always with new opportunities, the excitement soon waned and madness set in. My inner voices whispered, "Why the hell are you taking this on?" and "You don't know a thing about making an award." And the scariest one nailed it: "What, exactly, are you going to create?" That anxiety continued for at least a week with sleepless nights and unwelcome inner voices — a kind of temporary insanity that is part of my creative process.

DamNation: Undercover

Why bother making a film about dams if you don’t have footage of one blowing up?

Dam removal, on this scale, was unheard of. This was historic. The dam’s owner and demolition crew denied our requests to film the event. Knowing they had allowed other filmmakers to install remote cameras near the blast zone was infuriating and awoke some dormant issues I have with authority. (Being chased incessantly by rent-a-cops for skateboarding when I was little messed with my head. Those cops didn’t respect that I was doing something creative and positive, and I didn’t respect that they couldn’t run down a 14-year-old in baggy pants.) I took the denial personally, as if the powers that be were saying our film didn’t matter.

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