Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson4
The Ten Best Extreme Sports Directors
Extreme Sports videos has been pivotal in the success of you tube and vimeo and the hundreds of videos that are uploaded to these viral instigators are seen by millions throughout the world. But there are some that do it better then others. We give you the Ten Best Extreme Sports Directors from around the Globe
Sebastian Montaz-Rosset is a Frenchman on a mission – a mission to capture the incredible achievements, and incredible risks, of some of the world’s bravest human beings. His documentaries about BASE jumpers, tightrope walkers and parachutists show much more than just the preparation, intense concentration, skill and sheer foolhardiness of these people, they also provide a glimpse into why they do these things. We see them launching themselves off impossibly high precipices, but also sharing moments of friendly banter beforehand, and battling with a whole range of emotions in the run-up to a jump. All this comes together to give the viewer a feeling that he is the one taking that first step out into the abyss along with the others, which is a terrifying but also an amazingly liberating experience.
Another look at BASE jumping, this time from the perspective of one woman, the Norwegian Karina Hollekim. This film, and the inspirational story it tells, go further than Montaz-Rosset in conveying the dangers that BASE jumpers deal with every time they jump, and how they cope. It provides an in-depth picture of Karina, her motivations, and how she nearly lost everything pursuing what she loves. The best part is watching Karina slowly rebuild her life and regain confidence after shattering both legs in a BASE jumping accident, showing just how much determination and spirit it takes to enter the world of extreme sports.
Stacy Peralta was one of skateboarding’s biggest names in the 70’s, part of the generation that revolutionised the sport and turned it into what it is today. But he was also a keen surfer, a passion that stayed with him and in 2004 prompted him to make the definitive surfing documentary, ‘Riding Giants’. This movie is about the death-defying antics of those who choose to ride the biggest waves, some of which reach up to 70ft. It traces the history of the sport, giving a picture of successive generations of half-men, half-fish who brave the ‘giants’, driven by a soundtrack of greats such as David Bowie, Alice in Chains, The Hives, Moby and Basement Jaxx.
‘Devinsupertramp’, real name Devin Graham, is one director who is serious about bringing you, the fun-hungry internet patroller, into contact with some of the strangest and most exhilarating sports you’ve never heard of. Titles such as ‘World’s Largest Rope Swing’, ‘Human Slingshot Slip n’ Slide’ and ‘Trike Racing: The Fast and The Furious’ deliver just what they say on the tin, along with seemingly endless shots of beautiful teens having the times of their lives. Jealous much?
Kevin MacDonald is the well-known director of great films like ‘The Last King of Scotland’ and ‘State of Play’, but arguably one of his best films is the 2003 documentary ‘Touching the Void’, a retelling of the story of two mountain climbers whose ascent of the Siula Grande in Peru nearly ended in disaster. Stranded in a heavy snowstorm, Simon Yates faced the hard choice of cutting the rope his friend was dangling from, or being pulled to certain death himself. The documentary follows this remarkable survival tale, with in-depth interviews and reconstruction of the fateful climb.
James Marsh’s award-winning documentary ‘Man on Wire’ pays homage to the daredevil Philippe Petit, who in 1974 performed a high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Centre. The film explored contemporary reactions to Petit’s death-defying 200ft journey, including his arrest by the police and subsequent psychological evaluation. This moving and well-researched documentary is an insight into just how far extreme sports have come from the Petit’s historical tightrope walk.
Once again we are back with the French, this time with the three friends Sébastien Foucan, Jérôme Ben Aoues, and Johann Vigroux, who in 2003 hatched a plan along with director Mike Christie to take the sport of free-running to the streets of London. The hour long documentary, ‘Jump London’, and its follow-up ‘Jump Britain’, see Sébastien, Jérôme, and Johann clambering and vaulting over some of Britain’s most recogniseable landmarks, including the Royal Albert Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Edinburgh Castle and the Giant’s Causeway. Vive la Français!
‘Let It Ride: The Craig Kelly story’ is another jaw-droppingly epic extreme sports documentary, this time focussing on one of the founders of snowboarding, Craig Kelly. Kelly was a trailblazer, a fearless adventurer who was in love with snow, mountains and pushing himself to the limit. Like Karina Hollekim above he had a moment of unluckiness while out doing what he loved best; unlike Karina, he didn’t survive, and the documentary is a touching send-off for the Godfather of snowboarding. Packed with stunts, flying powder and awe-inspiring slopes, this documentary still finds time to get across Kelly’s funny, heart-warming take on life.
Some of the documentaries already mentioned focus on the history of extreme sports; Jimmy Chin and his team the Camp 4 Collective are focussing on the now. Whether following a group of intrepid young athletes climbing, then skiing and snowboarding down the third highest peak in the world, or making a documentary about the amazing solo climbing culture of Yosemite Park, these guys have their fingers on their pulse of the extreme sports world. Chin’s collaboration with Alex Honnold is especially productive, bringing to life the hair-raising sport of solo-climbing – climbing some of the world’s most difficult mountains without team-mates and without any climbing equipment other than rock-hard muscles and steely determination.
Thierry Donard can claim to have a career just as monumental as the landscapes and extreme sports achievements he has been filming for over thirty years. This man has literally done it all. From the age of five, when he started skiing, and the age of twelve, when he shot his first footage, Thierry has put in an astounding amount of work trekking to some of the remotest places on the planet for his films. He shoots the best in skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kitesurfing, BASE jumping and more. One of the most jaw-dropping moments in his ‘Perfect Moment’ series (which include all of the above sports) is watching wind skiers half ride, half fly down near-vertical descents in an awesome display of skill.