Film­ing the jour­ney

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

WHEN Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary reaches the sum­mit of Mt Ever­est in Be­yond the Edge, di­rec­tor Leanne Poo­ley hopes au­di­ences will take that last step with him.

It is one of his­tory’s great ad­ven­ture sto­ries so it’s no sur­prise the film has been knock­ing off box of­fice records.

The Kiwi-made docu­d­rama had the high­est gross­ing open­ing weekend for any doc­u­men­tary in New Zealand when it opened in 2D and 3D on Oc­to­ber 24.

It was writ­ten and di­rected by Ms Poo­ley, the West­mere film-maker who also holds the pre­vi­ous record for her film The Topp Twins: Un­touch­able Girls.

Bring­ing to life the world­first tri­umph of Sir Ed­mund and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay and their as­cent to the top of the world for the big screen was no mean feat for the award­win­ning di­rec­tor.

Ev­ery­one knows how the story ends but few can truly com­pre­hend the mag­ni­tude of the ex­pe­di­tion, she says.

‘‘And be­cause ev­ery­one knows the end­ing, you re­ally do need to make the jour­ney worth­while.’’

The Cana­dian-born Kiwi has lived in New Zealand since 1985 and now calls West­mere home.

She scoured through a moun­tain of mov­ing and still cam­era footage from the 1953 ex­pe­di­tion with pro- ducer Matthew Met­calfe and hours of au­dio in­ter­views the ad­ven­tur­ers gave in the af­ter­math.

Th­ese seam­lessly in­ter­weave with drama­ti­sa­tions thanks to the edit­ing skills of Pon­sonby’s Tim Wood­house.

Film­ing took place in the high al­ti­tude climbs of the Mt Cook Na­tional Park in the South­ern Alps.

Ex­pe­ri­enced New Zealand moun­taineer and high al­ti­tude cam­era­man Mark Whetu also led a sec­ond unit team to shoot footage as he climbed Mt Ever­est.

Ev­ery New Zealan­der can share in what Sir Ed achieved, Ms Poo­ley says.

‘‘It was a mas­sive ac­com­plish­ment that he was able to achieve be­cause of who he is and a big part of who he is, is be­cause of where he came from.

‘‘I’m hop­ing New Zealand au­di­ences all get to the sum­mit and feel they were a part of that achieve­ment.’’

Ms Poo­ley says the pres­sure of telling a story of one of New Zealand’s great he­roes only hit home when the film pre­miered.

‘‘When you’re mak­ing it you just fo­cus on the story and not let your­self get too ter­ri­fied or over­whelmed by that. There’s no ques­tion that the pres­sure I feel now feels more great, now I feel ner­vous, now you want peo­ple to like it.’’

Tough film­ing con­di­tions and the mam­moth task of find­ing two men who could both look and act the parts of Sir Ed­mund and Ten­z­ing pro­vided enough dis­trac­tions dur­ing its pro­duc­tion.

Af­ter an ex­ten­sive na­tional search, Chad Mof­fitt claimed the role of the young Sir Ed­mund and Sonam Sherpa was cast as Ten­z­ing.

Ms Poo­ley hopes the film once again brings home the enor­mity of the ad­ven­tur­ers’ feat in the 60th year since the ex­pe­di­tion as the ‘‘shine’’ of Mt Ever­est wears off.

‘‘If peo­ple re­ally go on the jour­ney with Sir Ed and Ten­z­ing and the rest of the ex­pe­di­tion then when they get to that end­ing it means more,’’ she says.

‘‘The end­ing they knew has much more res­o­nance be­cause they get to go on the jour­ney.’’

Be­yond the Edge is in cine­mas now.

Epic: Footage of the 1953 ex­pe­di­tion, in­ter­views and drama­ti­sa­tions are com­bined in the film.

Dou­ble-take: Chad Mof­fitt plays Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary in Be­yond the Edge.

No mean feat: West­mere di­rec­tor Leanne Poo­ley is bring­ing to life the world-first tri­umph of Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay’s as­cent of Mt Ever­est.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch the trailer for

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