Post by Andy Weinmann

In case you didn’t know, the trailer for the film about FOS, Approach, is out there now. You can find it here:

I figured I should just lay out a little background on how it came together.

Back around 2016 we were working on a trail project on the East Ridge Trail area. Eric Merideth was there working with us on that crew. As we were working, I started talking with Eric about trail work things like the design to keep people on the trails and all the elements that go into the work we do. I remember pointing out some of these things and explaining how they all fit together and if they’re done right, the trail hiker really has no idea…the right design just makes you want to hike that path and not take a shortcut or use some other trail.

Eric is an old friend and we’ve had some really great climbing adventures together over the years. I knew he did a lot of good photography work. He told me he had recently started getting into film work and we started talking about an idea I’d had for a while about a film on trail work. I’d been to plenty of film festivals like Reel Rock, Banff, 5 Points, etc. And in all of those short films I’d never once seen anything on trail work and conservation. Now that’s not to say it isn’t out there and I just missed it. That certainly could’ve happened. But I sure hand’t (and still haven’t) seen anything anywhere. I related all this to Eric and asked him what he thought. He was intrigued and thought might be a really interesting idea. I thought it could be a good way to raise awareness and get more climbers involved in taking care of the crags they love. As I see it, we take from the crags each time we go there…and the crag willingly gives each time. Is it too much to ask that we give back a day here and there to the crag and show it some love?

Eric actually first emailed me in late 2016 with some thoughts and a small storyboard. At that time we were talking about a 5 minute film…short. But of course, I had no understanding of production costs and the time it takes to do all this stuff. So back in 2016 we had the initial idea but life stepped in and we both were busy with stuff over the next 3 years.

Fast forward to April 2019. We had an upcoming trail work day and I got in touch with Eric about revisiting our idea. We had a good long phone conversation about it and decided this was something we could do. I know I had previously chatted with Diane about it and now we brought her into the conversation over email as well as Edwin Bachetti (from Mid-Atlantic Climbers). Eric had laid out storyboards and we were swapping ideas back and forth between the group. In one of those emails was this:

“We think that people need to understand that the trails they use all the time for access to the crags they love don’t just magically get maintained.  Thousands of volunteer hours get put in every year…it’s still a very small percentage of the climbing community that’s actively involved in trail work.  What’s more, none of us can recall ever seeing a short film in any of the climbing film festivals out there that talks about this issue.  We’re hoping that we can do something to change that.”

So that’s basically how it all got started. From there, we did the trail work weekends, Eric came out and filmed a ton of raw footage, and then we set up a weekend to do the climbing portion with Diane and me. Eric, assisted by Brandon Kappus on the rock and Adam Muldoon with some amazing drone footage, captured everything we needed. After that, Eric and Sean Muldoon (Forever Wild Media) took the lead on doing the post processing work…all the editing and cobbling the thing together. It was a fun process from start to finish and I’m really proud of the whole project and the support we’ve received.

In the end, our goal is to raise more awareness in the climbing community about the need for trail work and to encourage climbers to get involved in efforts at the local crags that they love. Hope to see you out there, shovel or pick axe in hand some time soon!