Location: Chamonix, France
Job Title: Filmmaker, mountain guide
Watch before reading on:
I believe I can Fly (Flight of the Frenchies)
1.How did you start basejumping/tight-roping , snowboarding…all of it?
I grew up near the mountains and was snowboarding and skiing from a young age, like most kids I knew.
2.You are a self-taught film man? Why didn’t you just enrol in a course?
I just started filming while working as a guide and got more and more interested in it. There aren’t really any courses near to where I live, and I didn’t have time to be able to do a course anyway.
3.What was your day job before your filmmaker career took off?
I have always worked in the outdoors – mountain guide, ski instructor, now filmmaker.
4. How do you turn profit in a career like this?
I don’t think I do yet! My work is getting more attention and requests for commercial projects, but my documentaries have been self financed so far.
5.What kind of training do you have to do for the kind of jumps featured in your videos?
All extreme sports take a lot of time and commitment to learn and practise them. For basejumping everyone starts with skydiving, and you’re not really able to basejump until you have completed around 200 skydives.
6.How do you attach the lines connecting the cliff edges?
We use standard techniques from mountaineering – using slings and pulleys around boulders and pillars to attach the lines.
7.Is there any fear in jumping off a cliff?
Of course there is – this is talked about in the film. Fear is always a part of extreme sports, but it’s controlling your reaction to it that’s important.
8.Have you had any injuries from the extreme sports you participate in?
Where we live, climbing, skiing, snowboarding etc are what most people do. It isn’t exceptional… I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any injuries.
9.Your film has been very success, has the success impacted your life?
It hasn’t been such a success to make an impact – it’s not like it won an oscar or anything! It’s been a bigger success than we expected which is great, and I now have more work from other projects… so I guess the impact is that I have even less time now than before!
10.What camera and camcorder do you use?
I film everything on digital SLR – canon 5D & 7D, so no camcorder.
11.How important was it to keep the dialogue in your national language?
It’s better for the way I like to film, in that it’s all natural and nothing is staged or forced… but for the audience it’s probably better to be able to make films in the English language.
12.The scenery is epic, do tourists see these places in the world or are they all local secret spots?
Tourists can see some of these places, but a lot of the filming is done in places that are hard to get to, and you have to do some mountaineering to be able to access the spots. They aren’t secret, but this isn’t a very common sport so there aren’t lots of people going to the same places doing the same things.
13.How does someone learn to be a basejumper/tightrope walker?
As I said earlier, basejumping comes from learning to skydive. Highlining normally starts with slacklining, which lots of climbers do – it’s the same but much closer to the ground and not in the high mountains.
14.What is the next big thing you want to do?
We have a few exciting film projects coming up this year – the second highline film will be great.
15. Do you think everyone has the kind of opportunities you did on their doorstep?
No of course not… not everyone lives in the same type of place. But the guys in the film aren’t from here… they discovered climbing and then decided to spend more and more time in the mountains. But there are lots of things to do and ways to do them… and life would be very dull if we all did the same things. We are very lucky to live in such an amazing place, and to have the chance to do what we do.