It’s been a long time coming but The Seaside, my film about trad climbing on British sea cliffs, is now available to watch online.
Quite what I was thinking when I took the project on is something I asked myself numerous times during the three year process that’s taken it from initial idea to mass availability. But really I knew the answer- I was trying to create the film I wanted to see myself.
Those of us who are familiar with the experience of climbing on Britain’s coastal cliffs know that there’s a film to be made about them. You abseil down to the base of the very edge of the country, just to climb your way back to where you began- how could there not be entertainment in that?!
But I didn’t want to leave it there. I’m an optimistic person and I think I have quite a romantic view of the world. I love the idea that every (dry) day in Britain, people are going out and having adventures on trad climbs, amazing out-of-the-ordinary experiences, just to live them and tell the stories on the drives to future climbing experiences. As a filmmaker I saw this as an amazing, untapped resource that needed to be captured. The idea of abandoning a planned structure and simply following climbers to wherever they were planning to climb (as long as it was above the sea) filled me with excitement.
For various reasons this turned out to be a very demanding task and I have to thank the BMC for believing in my vision and for giving me some of their Sport England funding (the same money the organisation’s detractors will tell you funds only competition climbing) – not just because it helped fund the film but also because I’d spent every penny of it before I realised how difficult the process would be! Like a gnarly old trad climbing mentor they gave me just enough help to allow me to commit myself and then left me to finish on my own.
All the climbing footage for the film was shot in the summer of 2016. In some ways that feels like a long time ago, but in others it seems very recent. I was part of so many adventures that summer- the kind of British adventures that don’t take place in true wilderness and may last only as long as a few days, or even a single afternoon, but as the film hopefully shows, are adventures in the truest sense. My optimism and romanticism paid off where it mattered as although many aspects of the process needed a lot of effort, finding climbers with compelling aims often took very little. I made great friends in the process and experienced so many places on our coast in ways that very few people ever do.
I’m very proud to be able to present The Seaside. I feel like I achieved what I wanted to with this film and I hope that, whether it makes you want to climb on sea cliffs or not, you enjoy watching it.