Utah filmmakers release footage of mountain high-wire crossing

By Grant Olsen, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov 29th, 2012 @ 12:15am



SALT LAKE CITY — The filmmakers from Utah-based company Good Line made headlines last year when they released their thrilling “Human Slingshot” video. It quickly topped 1 million views on YouTube and was featured on programs like the Discovery Channel and Good Morning America.

The Good Line team is back with a new video, featuring extreme athletes crossing a cliff-spanning slackline, which is sure to make some waves. I caught up with company founder Joseph LeBaron to learn more about what went into the jaw-dropping footage.

What was your inspiration for the video?

“We feel there is a different side to extreme sports that gets overlooked, and people try to play up the adrenaline side with fast camera cuts, hot women, energy drinks, and dubstep. We wanted to explore the athletes’ vulnerabilities and essentially get to why they do what they do, for themselves, not for the onlookers.”

Where did the slacklining idea come from?

“We heard about this mythical slackline location in Rock Canyon, and had been wanting to film some slackliners at it for about a year. But lining up the athletes who could actually cross the line, as well as considering filming difficulties, was always rough going.

“We learned that Gibbon Slacklines was going to be putting on an exhibition at the U (University of Utah), so I called them up and told them what we wanted to film. We had one evening to capture what we did, because the two athletes were leaving to New Mexico the next day to continue their tour. We couldn’t get them until 5 p.m., and then had to rush to Provo, set the line up, and in the end only had 45 minutes to capture them highlining before sunset. We eventually ended up taking everything down in the dark with headlamps, which was very sketchy that high up.”

Who are the slackliners in the video?

“The slackliners are Josh Beaudoin and Mickey Wilson, sponsored athletes of Gibbon Slacklines. They specialize in highline slacklining, and have very unique approaches. It was a beautiful thing to see Josh’s more Zen approach and Mickey’s more playful style juxtaposed with one another.”

Were there any scary moments during the filming?

“Watching (Good Line co-founder) Travis run along the cliff tops untethered was a scary moment for me. All I could think was, ‘This man has kids.’ I’m sort of a mother hen, so in the end, I wanted everyone to get off the cliff tops safely — but not before getting my shots.”

How did you get a helicopter involved?

“We have friends we usually use for aerial shots, but they were in Korea and unavailable. So we brought in another crew and directed the shots we wanted. Because we only had a limited time of filming before we lost light, we had the copter and four other cameras going nonstop: guys below the line, hanging off the cliff, tucked away in corners and running on the cliff tops with a steady cam.”

Where did you get the music for the video?

“We were adamant about having Micah Anderson on board. When you surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing, you don’t over-direct them. We wanted Micah to help on the shoot and then write the music he saw on the slackline. It sounds cheesy, but that’s what happened. The only direction I told him is ‘no dubstep’ (halfway kidding). When he sent us the first track, I was blown away and made my mind up immediately that this was the music we were going with.”

I love the narration. Where did it come from?

“After the shoot, we had about 15 minutes to interview the slackliners and so we made a makeshift recording studio in my 4Runner. Peppered through Josh’s interview was a sort of life allegory that we felt everyone could relate to, so we pulled it and made that our story.”

What would you tell aspiring filmmakers?

“I’d tell aspiring filmmakers that there are stories everywhere you look, so there’s no need to manipulate life to make it interesting. You talk to someone long enough and you’re going to be surprised by what you don’t know. Be sincere in your storytelling, and surround yourself with people more talented than you.”

What makes Good Line videos unique?

“I believe Good Line is special because we practice our motto: we capture life as it is. There’s no script out there that’s more powerful than reality. That philosophy has led us to work with Adobe and Google on the corporate level, film presidential campaigns in Mali, and document social entrepreneurship groups in developing nations.

“Point is, everyone can use some honest storytelling. It’s our goal to communicate stories that bring people together; stories that show we’re all a little different, we’re all a little off, there's beauty everywhere and every last … one of us is connected somehow. It makes the world feel a little smaller and the potential for understanding one another a little bit bigger.”

Grant Olsen joined the ksl.com team in 2012. He covers travel, outdoor adventures, and other interesting things. Contact him at grant@thegatsbys.com.

Grant Olsen, KSL.com Contributor

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