A conversation with Peter Mortimer, REEL ROCK co-founder.

For the upcoming REEL ROCK Film Tour screening of “Valley Uprising,” I had a chance to sit down and talk with Peter Mortimer, co-foudner of REEL ROCK and founder of sender films. For the 30 minutes I spent talking to him, I learned a lot about the world of climbing, film making, and how to work iPhones.

Would you rather fight a hundred duck sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

“I see where you’re going with this. One horse sized duck. In fact, that is REEL ROCK every year. Do we make one monstrous horse sized duck film or a hundred duck sized horses films?

What was your reasoning for starting REEL ROCK?

“I started making climbing videos in my twenties and kind of realized it was super fun and a little business model. It grew from there so I teamed up with my good friend, Josh Lowell,  and we started making money. We then pooled our resources and hired a team to run a tour.”

What is your favorite thing about filmmaking or the filmmaking process?

“I like the big picture stuff and the idea of taking something in your head or something that you see and communicating it in the big sense. I like the emotion and the feeling of it on film and ow its so multifaceted that a day on the job can differ so greatly.”

He insisted on telling me what he doesn’t like about filmmaking. 

“One, how f@#$ing long it takes to get anything done, and you can quote me directly on that. It’s so f@#$ing hard to get stuff done right. Second, I still get so incredibly stressed out when the films get screened. I get so hung up on the little details. Emotions I can keep at  bay in my emotional landscape, but when my films get screened its so miserably stressful.”

How did you get introduced to the world of documenting rock climbing?

“I grew up climbing in Boulder, Colo. and then went to college in New York and I knew I wanted to do film. A professor asked me to make a film about something I know. I was really passionate about climbing and Josh Lowell had just made his first climbing video so I went all in and raised $10,000 to put my first product out there.”

At this point our call dropped, so I had to call him back. He answered and apologized. He was getting a lot of phone calls on his phone and it was distracting him so I told him how he can turn it off. 

“Dude, no way! I can’t believe it! Thank you so much, you have no idea how helpful that is. I’m going to send you something in the mail.”

I could hear a voice in the background.

“Do you know of a way to turn off people notifications?”

I decided to move on. What was the inspiration behind “Valley Uprising”?

“This is the big film in our world. This is Yosemite, the birth of the lifestyle. All of the major evolutionary steps in American climbing happened here, it’s like the proving ground for the rest of the world. [The film tells the story of]  an incredible lineage of guys who dropped out of American conformist style, [and] went to Yosemite to explore the walls.”

He mentioned the name of Alex Honnold, one of the most talented free-solo rock climbers in the world.

“For me what’s really powerful is, you are understanding that Alex is just part of this linage and this history. [He is] the latest super human who has dedicated his life to this pursuit. I just think it’s really powerful, it’s the cradle of counterculture.”

What’s the scariest rock climbing story you have?

“Not my personal climbing, but it was with Alex Honnold [while he was] free soloing on the phoenix in Yosemite, the first ever attempt. [He’s] in this outrageous position, just hanging by his fingertips in this little crack. When I zoomed in through the lens, I could see how precarious his connection to the rock was. It was so frightening that I had to zoom out so I could see him in a broader scale, it was so sickening to see.”

As the conversation ended, Mortimer said he hoped people come out of the film feeling energized and happy for life. Don’t miss your chance to catch a glimpse into the exhilarating world of mountain climbing and the individuals who pioneered the whole movement.

Watch “Valley Uprising” on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m in the CWU Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC) Theatre. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and advance tickets are $10 for Recreation Center members and $15 for non-members. Day of, tickets will be $15 for all attendees. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at the Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals office by the SURC East Patio, or at the SURC Theatre on the day of the event.

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