New Beginnings

Heading out on location with Coldhouse for the first time was always going to be a highlight in the early months of finding my feet as their production manager. From the warmth of the Sheffield office I am constantly waving the guys off on their next job abroad and witnessing their return with SD cards full of amazing tales and imagery. I was keen to take my turn and get out and get involved with a shoot. My want to create and contribute to something tangible, exciting and original is overwhelming, and therefore the need to learn and experience how things run on location in the mountains is essential.

- Emma Crome, June 2016

Below the Douglas Boulder, Ben Nevis, 29th April 2016.

Dan and I hadn’t spoken for about ten minutes. Heads bowed against our chests we took repeated blasts of graupel to the face and the wind howled and screamed it’s contempt for our fragile forms. I stared miserably at the packet of biscuits half-buried in the snow next to me and wondered if I had made a terrible mistake - maybe office life was, after all, a better, healthier environment to exist in? I’d be dunking those biscuits in a nice warm cuppa right now if I was back in Sheffield.

Above Dan, the camera and I, Rab athlete Greg Boswell was steadily moving up a winter mixed route Cutlass, VI 7, our director Adrian on the ropes above him, filming top down and undoubtedly suffering from the endless spindrift whipping up the corner.

My experience of climbing in the mountains is fair, and thus suffering Scottish-winter style not an entirely unknown entity, but this felt quite different.

Route choice, logistics, safety and conditions are of course all serious considerations for climbers and crew. Yet on a film shoot in the mountains you almost have double the burden, considering the elements of the footage you need to capture and the shot list, how they are affected by the conditions, and doing everything you can to ensure that the right content is captured despite the limitations of the adverse weather.

Carrying all the equipment in to the CIC Hut was laborious yet only a small part of the workload, and establishing shots on the mountain side a complicated mix of safety and creative vision. I was overwhelmed at the speed and efficiency with which everyone worked - guide, athletes, and crew. I was even more overwhelmed by the fact that the compost toilet inside the CIC Hut was heated. It’s the longest I’ve ever lingered inside such a facility.

It was cold and pretty grim, waiting for the guys above to finish the climb. Snow sluffed over the rocks above us, pouring what felt like buckets of water down our backs, Dan barely able to see what he was filming. I gritted my teeth and buried my head further back in to my hood. Just as I was about to let the ‘suffer-fest’ inner dialogue take over, I cast my mind back to the end of 2015.

A few months before joining Coldhouse Collective I had felt I was under achieving, frustrated and stressed with a situation that was not fulfilling its potential. I wanted to contribute more to a job role and to the bigger picture, to be valued and understood as part of a team, but countless limitations forced me to readdress my position. I looked around me and saw many others who felt the same way, and I wondered what was holding them back? I didn’t want to compromise. I didn’t want to regret.

So, albeit rather tentatively, I quit my full time job, and re-attuned myself to dreams that have lingered for far too long in the peripheries of my life. Writing, film production, adventures in the mountains and with friends. These things define my happiness, and an opportunity to get involved with Coldhouse felt like taking a giant stride toward ambitions that had all but melted away.

It’s a tricky thing to take a leap of faith, to make big changes to your life and income without a known outcome. I liken it now to the many things I enjoy in life - adventures, writing a story, making a film, having a spontaneous ale session on a work night. The seed of an idea is where it all begins, and it’s up to you, and you alone to see it through to the end, no matter what.

So as I shivered and shook on my small perch in the snow I reminded myself that I am now lucky enough to consider ‘office life’ a comforting contrast to the days I get to spend out on location with the rest of the team. Learning, contributing, absorbing and enjoying, all the elements that were missing before are now falling into place. I am complimenting my existing skills by mastering treatments, call sheets, beat sheets and shot lists, and putting all the prep in to action on location.

Those wild few hours spent below Ben Nevis felt like a transition from old to new, from the past to the present and the future, and from uncertainty to “this is absolutely, 100% where I want to be. Even if my biscuits are a bit soggy.’

 


Coldhouse Are Hiring

We're hiring! At Coldhouse we're a pretty tight knit crew, but it's time to grow. We're looking to take on a studio manager as well as expand our freelance roster.

It's an incredibly exciting time for us as a business, and after the successes we had in our first year we're interested in hearing from people who are mad about the outdoors as well as in helping to develop a thriving film production company. 2016 is set to be full of amazing opportunities, ranging from full length feature film production to humanitarian/international development projects in Africa.

We're by no means looking for 'the finished article', and we're especially interested in people who want to grow with us as we move onwards and upwards.

Studio Manager

We're looking for someone with experience of working with a creative team, preferably within the outdoor industry. Primary roles would include day to day management of the studio, as well as working closely with clients on a variety of projects.

It's as much a left brain role as it is a right, and responsibilities will also include concept creation as well as proposal writing and editorial decision making.

The studio manager would need to be based in or around Sheffield, as the duties would mainly be carried out from the Coldhouse studio in Heeley, Sheffield. Hours would be flexible, and there are opportunities to perform some tasks from home. Finally, the studio manager may also have the opportunity to travel overseas when the company are undertaking larger scale productions.

Freelance Camera Operator

The clue is in the title on this one, we're looking to expand our roster of freelance camera people. What we're after here are a host of different people, ranging from those who've risen up through the ranks of the TV industry right through to alpine warriors who picked up cameras as a means of capturing their adventures.

There are opportunities for a wide variety of roles within Coldhouse in the coming months, so as above, if you're interested in adventure/outdoor film and feel as though you have something to offer us then please get in touch.

Freelance Editors/Animators

Finally, we're looking to work with new people on the mouse and keyboard end of production. At the moment the majority of our post production happens in our studio in Heeley, but we're on a hunt to see what's out there. We've got a small bank of really talented people when it comes to editing stories, but we could do with a few extra pairs of hands on the colour grading, sound design/mixing and animation side of things. Whilst it would be great if you were based in/near Sheffield it's not essential, so whether you're a Soho based super-editor or working out of the back of your van in the Clachaig car park then we'd love to hear from you.

Feel free to use the form below, or forward all enquiries, CVs and statements to hiring@coldhousecollective.com



CWIF 2016

Following on from the success of this year’s event, we’re incredibly excited to finally announce that we are going to be working as the camera team for the CWIF 2016. Last year saw us working alongside Band of Birds and TDC AV to provide online content for the event, and we’re excited to be teaming up again for the CWIF’s 10th anniversary.

We’re bringing a significantly larger team this time around. We’ll have a dedicated ground crew who’ll be working throughout to produce instant highlights, but we’re also thrilled to be providing the filming for the live stream. We began our careers filming indoor climbing events, and since our inception have been a dedicated adventure film production company. Our primary focus has always been rock climbing filmmaking, and we’re looking forward to being offered the chance to document the UK’s only international bouldering competition.

Banner photo by Neil Shearer

45minutes until the final of #CWIF 2015, watch our semi-final highlights here

A video posted by The Climbing Works (@climbingworks) on

Action from #CWIF PM qualifying. #bouldering #climbing #sheffield #strong #instagood #waddage

A video posted by The Climbing Works (@climbingworks) on

Our @TheRealBerghaus comp wall has been stripped and is ready to go, are you? #CWIF

A video posted by The Climbing Works (@climbingworks) on


Behind the Scenes: Rab Scotland 2016

Filming in the winter is never easy. It’s already a challenge looking after yourself and those around you, so when you throw a film shoot in to the mix you have to factor a lot more in to the equation. Earlier this year we went up to Glen Coe to make a short film about Matt and Alan Sharman, a father and son who have an incredibly strong relationship that was formed in the mountains.

Aiming high in terms of production value, we carried a Sony FS7 as our primary camera which is not insignificant when it comes to weight, but the piece of kit that added the most pressure was a DJI S900 drone. Drones have changed the way we make films in the mountains, and we’re able to capture footage that was in no way possible before.


The Past the Present and the Future

It might be the early stages of the new year, but at Coldhouse we’re still in our first formal year of trading. We spent a couple of years planning and preparing, taking the time to make sure that everything was right for when we flicked the switch and put ourselves out there. As with every new venture, there was a mixed bag of excitement but also apprehension. Our first year has panned out to be more exciting and successful than we ever anticipated, and we’ve been working with a number of brands and clients as well as on a number of ‘passion projects’ and feature films. As things have developed much has changed, and we’ve put together a few thoughts on things we’ve learnt along the way, mixed in with a couple of pretty pictures and films from the last 6 months or so.

1. Age is irrelevant – It’s your skills and experiences that matter.

We used to get really hooked up on worrying about being young. We had this bizarre feeling that no one would want to hire a couple of 20 something year olds to oversee their project. If the last few years have shown anything it’s that this isn’t true at all. Trust was placed not because of time served, but because of proof of ability. We’ve spoken to people of all ages who always seem scared of calling themselves a pro, or worrying about contacting a potential client because they fear rejection due to a lack of self worth. At the end of the day these are all excuses, as to a brand it’s super obvious what you can or can’t do. It’s about how you pitch it.

2. It’s all about the prep – Proof vs Promise.

When we first started out we spent hours mulling over the prospect of convincing people that we were good enough. Chase Jarvis wrote that the proof of a portfolio is worth so much more than the promise of a resume. We learnt that people don’t really care about what you say you can do, it’s all about what you can really do.

3. There’s no such thing as ‘9 to 5’.

This one didn’t really come as a surprise, and was more of a decision than a set in stone rule. The reasons vary, but we never really clock off. We’re always at the end of the phone if someone calls, and we spend a (probably unhealthy) number of nights burning the midnight oil. More often that not the line between work and play is blurred, and it’s become so hard to distinguish between the two that we’ve stopped trying. To make things work in this industry it has to be about so much more than just the job. You have to be up for working around the clock, honing skills in your spare time or down moments, and willing to suck it up when the bag feels heavy or the the drone hits a tree and subsequently, the ground.

4. Your colleagues, crew, friends and athletes are your biggest asset.

When you start making films you often have to be the sound guy, the cameraman, the director, the editor etc. This is great, because you learn both how to do a variety of jobs, but also what it’s like to work in each role. This means that when the cameraman needs to do ‘just one more take’ you can sympathise. There comes a time where you have to step back and put trust in others. It’s incredibly important to pick who you work with on a daily basis carefully, as (especially when working in adventure film) you’re going to spend a large proportion of your life with these people. We have a fairly strict unwritten rule of only working with people that we’d hang out with socially, and as a result the line between work and play gets blurred again.

5. Cameras, sliders and drones are just tools.

You’re only as good as your ideas and their execution. We are complete advocates of the ‘story is king’ philosophy, but if you can match the quality of your story with the pictures that tell it then you’re guaranteed to be on to a winner. We’ve gotten pretty good at chasing mountain bikers with RC helicopters and running around with steadicams on Arctic sea ice, but they are no substitute for a naturally engaging story.

6. The day you think you’re too good to work for free is the day you plateau.

We started out doing this for free; carrying bags on other people’s shoots, looking after locked off wide’s and generally dog’s bodying. This is no bad thing. We were always watching, observing and learning, and it’s made us what we are. Experimenting with ideas and techniques is a healthy and important thing to do, but learning from the best is the quickest way to make progress and we’ve never forgotten this. We know that we’ll never feel like we’ve reached the point where we’re ‘too good’ to work for free. There is always someone better who can teach you something, and collaborative projects are some of the purest out there. At the end of the day it’s important to remember why you do what you do. If you’d still do it if you won the lottery, then getting paid is really just the icing on the cake.

7. The road is long, and sometimes it’s bumpy.

It’s taken five years of prep to get to where we are now. During that time we travelled the world, met some incredible people, became friends with our heroes and learnt a lot about what we’ve now turned in to a career and lifestyle. But with the smooth comes the rough. For most of those years we were broke, tired and sometimes homeless. Van dwelling nomadic vagabonds who spent every penny on lenses and timelapse controllers, but we don’t regret or resent a second of it. We’re aiming high, so we feel like we have a long way to go, but we’re deeply proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Thanks to everyone that’s helped shape Coldhouse in to what it is now, and what it will eventually become. Here’s to the next few.

The view from basecamp, with K6 and K7 in the background
The view from basecamp, with K6 and K7 in the background

It's Official, Here Goes...

We’ve been talking about doing this since January 2010. We were stood together on the sea ice in Arctic Greenland throwing around the idea of putting our combined skill set to good use. The wheels started turning early last year, and it’s been a long time coming but the moment has arrived. We’re super proud to announce our new venture, and with it the release of our new website.

We’ve got our roots deeply embedded in adventure sports, and we were hucking waterfalls and skiing steeps since before we’d started secondary school. The passion became an obsession, and the obsession quickly became a career. Luckily, the career became a lifestyle and for the last few years we’ve done nothing but document the sports we love. We have no intention of stopping any time soon, quite the opposite actually.

It’s an exciting time to be working in the adventure film and photo industry and it feels like everything has gone through a huge transition. With the tech at the level it’s at now we’re able to take cameras to places that were never possible before. We’re shooting world class athletes on world class equipment, and it feels like we’re now in the perfect position to shoot the films we want to shoot, in the way we want to shoot them.

We’ve sacrificed a lot to get to this point, and worked harder than we thought possible. Sleepless nights, endless flights, putting in the hours and giving nothing but the total commitment and dedication that is required to operate at the top of the game. We’ve no doubt that the road will be taxing and trying, but there’s nothing more we want in the world. Here’s to the future.

Matt Pycroft & Adrian Samarra

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.