One of the directors of “Free Solo,” the Oscar-winning documentary feature about a rock climber, said backstage Sunday evening that the crew felt a lot of pressure during production due to the real life-or-death circumstances they were on hand to witness.
The film follows rock climber Alex Honnold on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan in June 2017 with no ropes or harnesses.
“I couldn’t see Alex below, and I just had to trust that he was being perfect,” co-director Jimmy Chin said backstage at the Dolby Theatre. “We also had to carry the weight of the entire production being perfect because if we made any mistakes, it could have been catastrophic.”
The film became known for the breathtaking shots of Honnold hanging on the edge of cliffs, but co-director Elizabeth Chai Vasarheiyi said she believed that sound editing also played a key role in its success.
“The audio is as important as the incredible cinematography that happened. That’s what we believe,” Vasarheiyi said.
“Sound is how you are there, and we understood that,”’ she added. “And we also had a great on-production sound mixer who managed to mic Alex through like cuts in his shirt, the mic was in his chalk bag. It’s especially [important] when you have no gear, how Alex breathes, the sound of the very discreet movement — that was important for us.”
The co-directors shared their Oscar win with producers Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill.