Hanging about shooting dramatic new press & poster imagery for ice climbing thriller Touching the Void, based on Joe Simpson’s extraordinary book.
Earlier in the summer, I got my full Jon Snow on, being sent to the frozen Ice Wall. But this wasn’t some end-of-G.O.T tribute…
Instead, I was commissioned by producers Fiery Angel to shoot new press and poster imagery for the West End transfer of Touching the Void, Joe Simpson‘s harrowing true-life account of mountaineering disaster and enduring friendship.
I’d loved the book when I read it a few years back, and had been excited to see the brilliant 5* reviews for the Tom Morris (Warhorse)-directed first run at Bristol Old Vic, so am keen to see how the climb, fall and incredible journey to safety are staged when it transfers in the West End in a few weeks.
Because of the nature of that clever staging, production imagery was a little too stark for promotional purposes, and so clients Fiery and AKA wanted dramatic imagery to showcase the peril and excitement of a show that is about bonds of friendship as much as it is disaster.
So, off we trotted to the two-storey Ellis Brigham Vertical Chill Ice Wall in Covent Garden (who knew?!), where after learning to ice climb in a quick session the day before, I scampered & slipped up the great Ice Wall and worked for an hour with the actors Josh Williams (Joe Simpson) and Angus Yellowlees (Simon Yates).
If I’d had any doubts that lighting and directing a shoot on an ice wall might be a little challenging, they were soon dispelled. What with the sub zero temperature, the jet engine-like noise of the cooling fan and having to have every location light bolted in place by an expert ice climber, not to mention the simple dangling-from-a-rope-15-metres-up-ness of it, there was plenty going on!
But, as we all got the hang of it, we were able to mine the relationships and find the drama, capturing some striking, exciting imagery.
And with a careful snowy edit, I was able to increase the sense of vertiginous danger (and take out the just-visible floor), to give the show new-look adventuring imagery for the West End ad campaign.
More than anything else, this barest whisper of a insight into ice climbing, gave me even more respect for the way Joe Simpson and Simon Yates faced and overcame a terrible ordeal. Go see the show to find out how…
Runs: November 2019-February 2020
Buy Tickets: https://touchingthevoidplay.com/