Why We Climb: Interview with Midair director Louis-Jack

We spoke to Louis-Jack, director of short film ‘Midair’ – an inquisitive bouldering documentary featuring Sheffield climber Jim Pope. 

What was the inspiration behind Midair?
Our inspiration was trying to convey the reasons why we climb; even if you’re a climber the sport often feels very strange, especially bouldering. You spend a lot of time huddled under these big rocks in the middle of nowhere, often in the freezing cold, or you’re training and doing all these strange, very particular exercises – and sometimes you just think, what’s the reason for doing this? This was both a way for us to explore that existential question, and convey to those that don’t climb why we do it, why we love it, and why we’re willing to make the sacrifices and put the work in.

Bouldering image

“You’re training and doing all these strange, very particular exercises – and sometimes you just think, what’s the reason for doing this?”

Bouldering looks like such a rush. How have you managed to convey that adrenaline high in the film?
The music was the biggest factor. From the outset, I had in mind that it would have this pulsing, techno soundtrack to drive the film and convey that excitement. I guess there’s some crossover with dance music and that flow state in climbing. On both occasions, you lose yourself in that moment. We had the track from Leftfield – a 90s rave track – and some more modern contemporary techno. I knew that Jim loved that music, so when the film focused on him, that music just made sense.

During the pandemic, lots of us turned to the outdoors for escapism. How does it feel knowing more people are discovering what’s so great about bouldering?
It’s fantastic! It’s definitely changed my life. Obviously, I’m biased, but I just think it’s the most wonderful pursuit. If you get hooked on it, it’s life-changing. The more people that get into it, the better, both in terms of personal health and wellbeing. It also makes your relationship with nature more profound. Once you get into an outdoor pursuit, like climbing or bouldering, you get a greater affinity and respect for nature. If this film encourages people to give climbing and bouldering a try, then fantastic!

Are you looking forward to the premiere of ‘Midair’ at ShAFF?
I can’t wait! With the Peak District being the centre of climbing I couldn’t think of a better place to showcase the film. I’m very jealous of you guys, having it all there right on your doorstep. Every time I come to climb in the Peaks, I just love it.

You can catch Midair at ShAFF as part of the Made in Sheffield collection (19 Mar, 16.15 – Screen 3); Adrenaline Films 1 (18 Mar, 21:30 – Screen 3); Young Adventurers Films 1 (18 Mar, 17:30 – Screen 2//20 Mar, 10:30); Adventure Bites (18 Mar, 17:00 – Café//19 Mar, 10:00 – Screen 5//20 Mar, 10:00 café)

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