Welcome To The Hood is the second release from PRAK media, aka professional climber Paul Robinson and his girlfriend Alex Kahn.
Paul and Alex released their first film, The Schengen Files, in 2011.
The Schengen Files is a 20 minute chronicle of Paul’s many ascents in 2010 and 2011 in Switzerland and France. The film can be purchased for $7 via digital download here: The Schengen Files by Paul Robinson.
Their newest film, Welcome To The Hood, features four of the world’s best boulderers—Robinson, Daniel Woods, Finnish climber Anthony (Andy) Gullsten and Austrian Guntram Jörg (also spelled Joerg). The four climb many hard boulder problems in Fontainebleau, France; Murgtal (Magic Wood), Brione, Chironico, and Cresciano, Switzerland; and Silvretta, Austria.
The video begins with each climber discussing the theme of the movie—namely, what the term “hood” means to them. Other reviewers have shared mixed feelings on the theme, but the boys explain that to them hood means the places they climb and the people they climb with, and in that context the theme makes good sense. It also allowed for this striking photo of all four featured climbers.
Speaking of theme, Robinson’s artistic background (he earned a BA in Art and Art History from CU Boulder and has sold several paintings) and Kahn’s area of study (she has a Bachelors in Business Administration with a focus on marketing and has taken classes in art and the TAM—Technology, Arts and Media—program) show through here here with the angles of the shots and the high quality graphics in the film and advertising campaign.
The footage is clear and high quality. The motion graphics are seamless and continue to be well done throughout. The ads and trailer are visually stimulating and modern. Filming was done by all the climbers as well as a few friends. Robinson and Kahn shared editing duties and both have done a great job teaching themselves the ins and outs of Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Kahn says:
We learn a lot from watching climbing and non-climbing movies and we ask the pros (Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Keith Ladzinski, Tim Kemple, Chuck Fryberger, and Nelson Caryannis) for tips so we can always improve.
The music also maintains a continuous theme. Instead of gangster rap the soundtrack is largely instrumental and feels like a nearly continuous mix throughout. You can get a taste of the style by watching the trailer (below). The entire soundtrack is combination of two artists—Pretty Lights and Gramatik—and all the music was licensed through these two artists, which is a necessary step to take for any video that will be sold.
After the intro the video is largely action as hard send after hard send go down with apparent ease. A few sections tell a bit of a story, with athlete interviews and shots of failure and frustration. To me the most notable was the section of Jörg’s send of Big Paw (8C/V15) and Daniel Woods’ frustration with the problem and a dangerous fall he took when his foot slipped near the top on what would have been a send. (Woods did eventually finish the problem, though his send is not shown in this video).
The prettiest shot may have been the end of Anthony Gullsten’s send of Anam Cara (8B+/8C)—the valley behind him shows that Silvretta is one of the prettiest places to climb in the world.
I also enjoyed Robinson’s recounting of his first ascent of The Traphouse (8B+/V14) in the well-traveled area of Fontainebleau. For those who don’t know, two years ago Robinson had a great season in Font in which he made many hard repeats, but a few things evaded him and he had to go back last winter to finish them off. Those ascents are featured in Welcome To The Hood.
Though Daniel Woods visited Font and Switzerland and came away with some impressive ascents, it was his flash of Entlinger—long considered to be V15 and therefore one of the hardest problems in the world—that was the main highlight of the film. Not only did Daniel create bouldering history with the ascent, but it was actually captured as it happened. Guntram Jörg was the witness, and just after Daniel’s send he seems shocked and looks back and forth from Daniel, on the topout, to the camera.
That’s a flash man. You flashed 8C.
For that sequence alone this video would be worth the small cost of the download, with the rest of the glorious send footage further justifying your $11.
If you must have a hard copy of this film there are a few DVDs available, but they are scattered throughout the world. In America, EarthTreks Timonium (just north of Baltimore, Maryland) has several copies, and The Spot in Boulder will also have a few copies for a limited time. In Japan they can be purchased from The Pump Gyms and The Ranch. They are also at gyms in Germany, Finland, and Switzerland.
Unless you live in one of those places your best option is probably to order online from www.bouldering.com. Or, you can make your life easier and just get the HD download. Only $10.99 for instant climbing movie gratification.
HD Download: Welcome To The Hood from 27 Crags Films
Jackie Hueftle works at one of the biggest indoor bouldering gyms in the world—The Spot Gym in Boulder, Colorado—and runs their blog. She also writes for climbing magazines, is working on several books for children and adults, and spends as much time as possible out-of-doors.
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