Eugène’s filmmakers symbolize a rocky journey in “Climbing at Night”

Cue chirping crickets chirping and a bright headlamp. Action! The powdered hand of a climber and his blue t-shirt appear as the only spot-lit holes in an otherwise black void.

“We’ve been doing this for a year; this COVID thing, this loneliness thing, this distancing thing, ”climber Peter Hoffmeister intones. “In a way, we all climb at night, in the dark, each on their own rope, tied to a single ascender and hoping we can climb back up.”

This contemplative cadence opens “Climbing at Night”, created by Hoffmeister in collaboration with filmmaker Ben Madrid and sound producer Jordan Cox. After a planned climbing film in Yosemite with famous cameraman Max Buschini was canceled due to pandemic considerations and other priority projects, Hoffmeister pivoted to a script symbolized by climbing in the dark to the columns from Eugene. The resulting film is meant to be a message of hope available to those who see it.

“We want to bring people together,” Hoffmeister said in an email. “We realized we could do something completely different, something better for the community after this past COVID year. “

The video begins as a meditation on this dark time, following hands seeking a grip in a sea of ​​ink.

“2020 has been a pretty dark time for a lot of people,” said Madrid. “I say, check this thing out and that might help get you through the last part.”

Filming in dreary darkness presented a challenge for “Climbing at Night”.

“The first time we tried to film it was a moonless night. We didn’t have back-up lighting and it was that dark well, ”Hoffmeister said. “We tried different angles, and it wasn’t possible.”

This assignment may have been difficult for an experienced filmmaker, let alone a newcomer to the field like Madrid. After participating with famous climbing cameraman Buschini during the filming of “Stone and the Columns” in 2019, Hoffmeister knew Madrid would rise to the challenge.

“He was really precise and he was really good,” Hoffmeister said of Madrid. “It was validation because he’s proven himself with these guys (Buschini and other professional outdoor camera teams) who have high standards.”

A collaborative project, Hoffmeister and Madrid worked side by side to achieve the frame they were shooting for. Madrid, for example, tends to lean into the dark, showcasing works that might seem melancholy. That sums up some of the social vibe at the moment, but Hoffmeister also wanted to highlight a way out of our isolation.

To provide not only a visual, but also audio indication of this re-emergence of our caves, Madrid hired their good friend Jordan Cox, a closet music maker, to provide the soundtrack. Beginning with low piano keys and muffled rhythms, the piece almost stops around three and a half minutes, marking the light that can appear at the end of a long, lonely stretch.

“There’s that moment, three minutes after the movie starts, where it goes into a full heartbeat,” Hoffmeister said in a conversation. “It was a really cool time for me watching it for the first time.”

Cox used a Fruity Loops Studio DAW (a digital audio workstation) to establish the sound, one of his first published works. Cox sports a whole library of sounds created by himself, but this is his first public appearance.

“Jordan is very serious about his job,” Hoffmeister said. “He doesn’t do much public speaking of it.”

Tomorrow may be unknown, but according to the hugs and good news Hoffmeister hands out in the concluding moments of “Climbing at Night’s,” there is an optimistic feeling for what could be on the horizon.

“Especially in the mood and (loosen up) the restrictions, things feel a bit freer than when we first started,” Cox said. “I can’t wait to see what the future brings us.

Follow Matt on Instagram @ CAFÉ_541. Questions or comments? Send him an email [email protected]. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to gain unlimited access and support local journalism.

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