The conditions will be treacherous and the emotions will be intense, as Tom Vaillant, a 20-year-old aspiring French filmmaker, produces his first full length feature while climbing to the peak of the world’s biggest mountain.
Tom, who was born in Paris but lives in the UK, created his film company Rockline Pictures to combine his two biggest passions of climbing and filmmaking and will lead a team of around five up Mount Everest next April. The documentary, titled, Awe, aims to present the psychological challenges and emotional journey of mountain climbing.
However, Tom is clear to state that this film will be far from mushy and pretentious and with a use of powerful imagery and slick editing, it will be a modern and creative display of nature and sport, saying: “It will not be a melodramatic, usual documentary, but more sports, with a really great soundtrack and really good footage.” He added: “We’ll be doing everything we can to make it look amazing and interesting.”
Using the online ‘all or nothing’ fundraising site, Kickstarter, Rockline Pictures has already raised £10,000 in just two weeks and has just over three weeks to raise another £10,000. Without the money, the trip cannot go ahead.
However, Tom believes that the £20,000 target is achievable. He said: “I’m quite confident I’ll get it,” adding: “Most of the bigger donors will be coming next week.” Although Tom is still looking for sponsors, he has secured a deal with Vimeo and partnered with Tumblr and revealed that he is in talks with another company.
The donations that Rockline receive will not fund the expedition, but will go into the film production costs. However, as Tom explains in his Kickstarter video, the company don’t want to come ‘cap in hand’ and are offering rewards for donors, including free DVDs, filmmaking tutorials and tickets to its premiere.
Trekking is a dangerous sport and many lives have been lost while taking on Everest. With a bit of experience climbing mountains in Asia, Tom ensures that his excitement has not spilled over into arrogance. He said: “Of course, I’m a bit afraid of the challenge and a bit anxious, but I’m not going to be so scared that I’m paralysed.” He added: “It’s about staying really humble about the environment and being really cautious with everything.”
Tackling Everest is challenging enough , but the team will be taking plenty of filming equipment up the mountain for the project, which will add to the difficulty of the trip. While the focus is on the full feature, they will be aiming to release footage while trekking from the mountain's base camp.
Tom admits that modern movie making equipment takes some of the edge off filming in the difficult weather and the biggest challenge when filming lies within himself. He said: “The challenge will be, if I do make it to the summit, to still concentrate on filming. It’s going to be cold, windy and snowy up there.”
Tom will be climbing mountains in the Scottish Highlands in January, in order to practice filming in difficult conditions. After daily training and his recent completion of a marathon, the trip will also help in the physical aspects of the climb.
It will take the team two months to reach the mountain’s peak, with the post production expected to take around three months. If all goes to plan, the film will be ready for its premiere around October 2013, before the promotion at the London Film Festival on October 10.
If the promotion goes well at the festival, the company will then be looking to sell the feature online as with the further hope of television and DVD releases.
Although keen to keep his cards close to his chest, Tom admits that he already has plans for a second feature but ensures that his future goals lie firmly in filmmaking.
James Mellan @jamesmellan1