The upsides and pitfalls of filming an expedition

Guy Buckingham



I am not a professional filmmaker or photographer, although I do work with some of the best in the business. I am only going to talk about my personal experiences and regurgitate (hopefully accurately) some of the great advice I was given from Matt Pycroft and gained from watching Hamish Frost in action.



It’s not about the climb

Men and/or Women go to mountain, climb mountain and come home – that tends to be a fairly standard story line and although  interesting, especially for those on the exped, it will only hold limited interest for a wider audience. My advice would be to think beforehand what it is you want the film to be about and make achieving the summit/route/river etc as secondary. This is especially true if you want to get someone or some brand interested in supporting you. Which leads us on to support.


Think about it from the brand’s perspective

Even if you have an amazing idea and know that it has the potential to become the next big thing in adventure filmmaking, if you are trying to sell that idea to a brand, think about it from their point of view. They all have limited budgets and lots of options of how to spend their money, so what is it about your idea that will really help them out.




It’s not about the money it’s about the film

If you are not after commercial support, but want to make a film for the festival circuit, again it’s back to the first point, what is going to make this stand out from the crowd. There are lots of films out there, it usually costs to enter into a film festival so making sure that it has impact and can connect with an audience is essential.


Cameras and equipment

Ideally having the best equipment possible would help capture the best content, unfortunately that tends to be very expensive and usually pretty weighty. Even if you have an amazing SLR and lens, you might still want to consider if it is appropriate for your exped. Some questions it might be worth asking yourself are:

  • How weight limited will you be?
  • If it’s a big camera how likely are you to get it out regularly to capture?
  • How robust is it?
  • What quality will it take, which do you prefer stills or film?
  • How many batteries have you got?
  • How will you keep it warm?

As Matt would say “the best camera is the one you have with you”



Regular and Often

When on a exped, especially when it is technical, it is very easy to put off the film and photography until you stop for the day. Filming takes time and will impact on your day. However, little and often usually works much better, it is much more relatable when filming in the moment for that significant decision than it is trying to talk about it later that evening once the emotional tension has passed.


To film or not to film….

This can be really tricky, I would recommend a set of ground rules between the exped members that allows for filming and allows members to say when they don’t want to be filmed even if it is a lynchpin moment.  As Matt said, “if it feels emotionally uncomfortable to get the camera out ….. get the camera out..”  There is a line however, and this has the potential to get in the way of relationships. It is something I have made a call on a couple of times when I knew I should have got the camera out, but felt it was unfair on my friend so didn’t. (I just forgot to mention it to Matt when I got home!)



What to film

This really depends on the film you want to make. I would recommend looking at some good quality adventure films that you really like. Look at the types of shots and then keep that in your mind for your exped

What Next….

At Coldhouse, we have often talked about offering a short workshop, we have a already run numerous bespoke packages for various people and this has been well received. If this is something that interests you please get in touch.