Watch climbing film The Gritual on BMC TV

Posted by Claire-Jane Carter on 16/05/2014
Guy Van Greuning: capturing grit and its children.

Ever since Hard Grit, filmmakers have been drawn to capturing cutting-edge action on the grit. The Gritual is Guy Van Greuning’s debut film, capturing one season on the God's own rock: loved by many and feared by more. Watch the film now on BMC TV.

We caught up with Guy to find out how he captured the actions of a unique set of grit champions.

What does the grit mean to you?
Grit is an escape after 5pm, bombing down Ringinglow road, watching the offices and buildings get smaller and smaller. It's a calming thing, at least on weeknights.

What is it about the grit scene at the moment that made you want to make the film?
It wasn't really the grit scene itself. I'd just bought a fancy (to me) camera and wanted to film whatever my friends were doing. Luckily,, and in part thanks to the Sheffield techno scene, my circle of climbing friends increased and as it did so did the average grade.

People like Ryan (Pasquill) and Nige (Kershaw), they're not exactly into broadcasting their achievements, so I was there to burst that modesty bubble. I also wanted to get Nathan (Lee) and Oli (Grousell) on film as since their sponsorships they've been getting better and better.

How did you learn your craft?
I started filming when I was about 15 or 16 on skating trips, it seems so faffy now, with a million Mini DV tapes and clip on lenses. At uni, before I found climbing I had a lot of spare time, A lot, so I watched Youtube tutorial videos and learnt bits and bobs through a film maker called Alex Shackleton. I'm still learning now, evidently, but with no spare time I have adopted a self-enforced minimalist style. Magic Lantern was the last thing I self taught, I'm no good at academia anymore.

Enough talk: watch The Gritual on BMC TV

How is filming the grit different to other rock types?
For me, it's the stuff where there is zero chance they'll do it again, the headpoints or on-sight/flashes. The 'right place, right time' aspect was really stressful, especially when the climbers weren’t massively fussed about it being caught on camera. I missed some things, for example Ryan's flash of My Kai, because I was re-setting my abseil and he pulled over the top as I leaned in. Ah well, a good private memory for those watching.

What was the most gripping climb to film?
Both Ryan and Nige were climbing on what an optimist would call 'greasy' rock and facing terrible consequences. When Nige did Dynamics of Change it was eerie as there'd been a lot of banter at the crag with the youths taking falls on Balance It Is, but when Nige set off no one said a word. Not one word of encouragement. I think the collective exhale when he got the jug could've blown a sheep over. I was quite happy to be detached from that scene through the camera, I didn't want to touch it as I was shaking too much.

Tell us about the music?
A lot of it is from a chap called Chris Zabriskie and Broke for Free, who allow their work to be used for free through the creative commons agreement, a noble and modest idea. It's a funny thing, music, as you can never please everyone but the predominant sound of grit outcrops, the wind, is surely worse than a bit of music? Shirley?

Why did you decide to release the film on BMC TV for free?
Alex Messenger asked me if I'd be keen and it seemed the easiest and least stressful avenue of delivery. It's just nice isn't it, everything is so expensive nowadays and it's only an amateur's first attempt. I've watched some films I've bought before and just thought, how could you have the cheek to ask money for that?

A film I watched on repeat when I was starting out was ‘A Gritstone Year’ by Beardown Productions, that was free, and it got me so psyched. That's what I wanted to do, that's part of the hobby.

Is making a film like this expensive?
The initial outlay for the equipment is relatively expensive I guess, but no more so than a full rack and various ropes. You don't need the best kit, just good advice from those more experienced than you to make the learning curve easier. I film on the most basic DSLR but use a nice lens, "always pay more on the glass”, that's what Adam Bailes said, so I stuck to it. The best camera I ever had was a little sony HX9V, size of a phone but could film wonderfully.

What’s your day job and will you give it up?
I work as an accounts assistant for a company in the city centre 9-5, Monday to Friday, I enjoy working with numbers, it's very black and white, and I have enough going on in my head. Would I give it up for film making? I think I would but the commercial side of it scares me a bit.

What do you think of climbing films these days?
The best climbing film for me is Consumed; the sheer amount of footage is staggering and while a story was probably not intended, it comes out screaming, two nutters going for it 100%. I think as higher technology has become more accessible it's easy for films to look very similar, the playing field has been levelled.

Which is good as then it becomes about content, the Alastair Lee adventure films are gobsmacking, Life on Hold made me proud to climb in the UK and the Hot Ache's Wideboyz films are heart warming. For me, I'll always love 'readers vids', the self-made and zero budget climbing films, for example Chris Taylor’s summing up of the Peak Snowballing last year.

Are there any broken legs you don’t show?
No, thankfully. Oli was wearing his helmet otherwise there would've been an ugly sight/slight improvement mid-season.

Who is your grit hero or heroine?
Grit heroin, it's out there man. My hero is Nige. my heroine is Katy (Whittaker), Miss FFA, FBFA. But I don’t have many heroes any more, they always let you down.

By breaking their legs.

Finally, is there anyone you’d like to thank?
The climbers I've filmed, they've put up with countless texts asking when they're going out and who with. Also Mammut, who very kindly chose to support the film and also do a great job sponsoring some of the young up-and-coming climbers featured in the film. And my girlfriend. Hi Ally, yes it's over now. I’ll turn off the laptop .

Well done Sir, You may go back to your desk.
Phew.

Find out more about Guy at ‎knowhereboy.blogspot.co.uk


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