Sender Films : The Reel Rock Tour – Trailer

Peter Mortimer est le fondateur de Sender Films. Il a réalisé son premier film d’escalade en 1999 de façon totalement autonome. Parmi leurs nombreuses spécialités, on trouve principalement de nombreux documentaires, plusieurs séries avant-gardistes et différentes vidéos commerciales.

Grâce aux prix et récompenses accumulées au cours des années, la compagnie s’est forgée une solide réputation. Parmi les travaux récents on compte une série réalisée en collaboration avec National Geographic intitulée First Ascent Series, un documentaire sur l’incroyable grimpeur Alex Honnold et une publicité pour le groupe bancaire Citibank.

Peter est également le co-fondateur de Reel Rock Film Tour, une série qui suit les meilleurs grimpeurs au monde. Démarré en 2006, ce projet en collaboration avec Big Up Production, est à ce jour le plus important projet de ce type jamais réalisé avec des tournages annuels dans plus de sept continents et 350 sites d’escalade différents. Tous les fonds récoltés sont entièrement reversés à des associations caritatives grâce à une superbe collaboration entre athlètes, marques et réalisateurs. Le 7e volet sera dévoilé à l’automne.

Nous avions contacté Peter il y a peu dans le cadre d’un projet de fin d’étude pour qu’il réponde à quelques questions. En pleine fin de tournage de cette dernière édition, il avait accepté de prendre un peu de son temps. Grand seigneur, il nous a donné sa vision de son métier, et de la relation qu’il peut y avoir entre la passion et le travail.

Thanks Peter!


The Lifestyle marketing is a concept coming from the US and which exists for about 10 years now. In France and Europe we can see today the first results of such analyze. Are you familiar with this concept? 


 Sportsman and sportswoman that you follow all testify of your athletic performances. You seem to be really sporty. When did you decide to take the path of audio-visual rather than sport itself and why?

Ha.  Nick and I are mediocre climbers at best.  The people we are filming these days are really exceptional athletes that are at the cutting edge of the sport.  Not only are they incredibly capable in the mountains but they are comfortable with risk as well.  They are well beyond anything Nick or I could attain as athletes.

Your work is the result of a passion for nature and sport and we can feel it in your movies. Today are you fully supporting yourself financially from your passion? Has it been the case since the beginning?

Yes I have been fully supporting myself for about 10 years through filming, and now Nick and I have a small company with about 10 freelance employees working at any given time.

One could wonder if the work is not too overwhelming and does not take over the passion, taking the risk to pervert it. How do you find the balance to avoid the overdose ?

This is definitely true and I have not found the balance yet.  The last 6 years have been exciting years of growth and opportunity for us as a company, and I have definitely sacrificed balance in my life.  But I hope to think that with time I will find more balance.  I now have a daughter and  family which are big parts of the équation.

This is very important for a natural reporter to perfectly know the environment and the activity that he films, in order to sublimate it. When we watch your movies it seems that you reached an impressive level of technicity. Each movie generates a particular emotion. It must be a daily work. How many times did you need to reach such technicity?

We do spend a fair amount of time becoming comfortable in the environments we film, and we also work with the best local riggers and climbers in any location so we are safe, agile and can get into the optimal positions for filming.  I grew up in the mountains so it is the environment I am most comfortable in.

After watching your movies it seems like your motivation is to introduce the spirits of sportsmen/women in order to explain their approach to a novice. Is the aim to “sublimate an art to get it accessible for a larger public”?

Well that is an interesting way of putting it and not sure in translation if that has negative connotation, but we definitely want to tell stories that are universal.  If it only appeals to people who know the sport, know the location, know the athlete then it is not a strong enough story for us.  We want to be able to show our films to anyone and have them interested in it because the story, chracter, passion are universal.

We noticed a burst of nature and extreme sports for the last ten years. For example the success of the slackline for several years is testifying. Do you agree with this report? What is your opinion concerning this craze for naturals sports?

Definitely., I think its because of the internet because before youtube most people did not see real adventure sports like climbing, highline and base jumping, all they saw was the cheesey tv version or Hollywood version and it never grabbed peoples attention.  Now they see clips on youtube from the best mountain athletes in the world and people say: that is the real shit, that’s inspiring!  Companies of course take note of that and now everybody wants a piece of the action.  I think this can be a good thing if handled in the right way.

Communities that grow around these activities have less media coverage. This is the case for climbing, alpinism, base-jump, trail, slackline, which are often more federative. How do you explain the fact that these communities are so bound together?

These sports are lifestyle sports and require spending time in specific spots in the world where most people don’t go.  You can’t just pop in and out and be done with.  You meet other people who share the passion, you identify with them, you get inspired from each other and that is the heart and soul of the whole thing.  Without the community, the level of inspiration would be much less.  If you go to a climbing area and don’t see anyone, don’t talk to anyone, you can’t be as inspired over the long term as seeing what others are doing and sharing ideas.  That’s the way it grows.

According to my research, you seem like a real community vector. Are you conscious of this fact? For you, is it a commercial argument that gives a certain value to your approach?

I think our films do bring people together and I love that.  Its part of the original inspiration which was to make something and share with people.  Now its grown into a business and I think that gives us more opportunity to bring people together.  The REEL ROCK Tour goes to 350 locations around the world this year, and each show is a community event where people watch films, get inspired together and go out and play. This is probably my favorite aspect of the REEL ROCK tour, that the shows are communal.

On your website we can see that you realized a couple of corporate videos or advertising. What are your surplus values on the movies making market?

Yeah we do thèse for the Financial gain and for the fun sometimes but it is not the engine that drives us forward.  We live for telling stories, big, meaty stories and the stronger the story the more excited we get.  Commercial work can be fun short little clever stories but they are never so deep and exciting as a big documentary project.

Let’s take a concrete example: a multinational company with no link of mountain or nature sports contact Sender Films to communicate and create a new image through different values. Is it a project that you can accept without any problem or would you consider that it is a perversion for the image of natural sports?  

I would definitely consider it before jumping right onto it.  There are certain companies that I would not be comfortable working with, if for instance, they are big republican donor companies.   It has not come up so much for us though because most of the companies we work with like The North Face and Clif are great companies, and I believe in their vision and I see eye to eye with the people they employ and I think they help support the industry.  So in that case no problem.  But yes I would have to take a bit of a look first if someone outside the industry came to us.

How do you define lifestyle?

I love climbing, its part of my lifestyle.  I like the history, the people, the places.  I live it, I make movies about it.  I also like tennis and futbol, but its not such a lifestlye, they are just spors that are fun to play, fun to watch and cheer for, but they don’t change who I am, how I live, the way I think.

We all have in mind the case of Redbull that built an image around extreme sports. What are the influences of Lifestyle on the brand image? Could Lifestyle save a brand reputation?

Oh yeah thats an interesting one because red bull makes a product that is not that healthy.  However i do like to drink REd Bull when I am editing for days on end.  I like that they support so many athlètes and media companies and have funded projects that ahve been ground-breaking in the outdoor industry.  However, I don’t like thow they heavily brand their films and athlètes soi t feels like more of an ad gimmick than a real thing.  I think many people are turned off by this and that REd Bull would do better to be more subtly with their branding.  But I don’t think they are inherently a bad comany, but honestly I have never worked with them and I haven’t done the research.

How do you see the evolution of your work in Senders Films to insure durability in your activity?

I think the way we have stayed with the lead pack is by pushing the storytelling, and keeping up with the greatest adventures happening.  Every time we make a film we try to take the story to the next level and this is our strength.  I think we spend more time brainstorming and writing and shooting down ideas and starting over on story than anyone else, and the effect is that the films can be moving forward in an efficient entertaining way so you get the action, you get the moments, but the driving force is the story.

 Citybank – Sender Films 2011

Sender Films Website

The Reel Rock Film Tour

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