A Q&A With Ibex Videographer Evan Kay

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Evan Kay has a made-up job here at Ibex. It’s not fake; he literally created his own job description and pitched it to our CEO. His pitch went a little something like this: Why don’t I travel around for Ibex and I’ll make films about what I see?

Bold pitch. It worked because Evan is a creative and extraordinarily talented storyteller. Our opinion of Evan’s work is substantiated by the acceptance of his film, The Black Canyon: The New Black Project, to the celebrated Adventure Film Festival in Montrose, Colorado.

With The New Black, Evan and his team broke from the traditional line of most climbing and sports films. It’s not a story of redemption or success. It’s a story of failing: not failing because a goal couldn’t be achieved, but rather because the protagonist wouldn’t degrade his integrity in order to achieve it. We cornered Evan and peppered him with questions about The New Black and the process of making a really great short film.  

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Ibex Question (IQ): Congratulations on The New Black being accepted into the Adventure Film Festival! Not only was it the world premier of the film, but the organizers also asked you to take part in training sessions for aspiring outdoor filmmakers. What was your path from Chicago boy to film festival doyen?

Evan Kay (EK): When I was a little kid, my dad produced different types of videos – most of them were educational and documentary work. One time, I auditioned for a part [in a kid’s film he was doing], and I got it, but I had to work for free. Well, actually, that’s not true. I worked for a puppy. So I grew up around my dad’s work. In high school, I made movies with my friends – Jackass kind of stuff. When I went to college, I had a clear direction and I didn’t want to focus on anything except film. After college, my focus [expanded to include] the outdoors. I started my own freelance production company, called Climb High Productions, in order to focus on outdoor, documentary style videos.

IQ: You’re tasked with a broad range of video topics. How do you keep a 30-second promo for a base layer as compelling as a 30-minute story of travel and adventure?

EK: That’s a great question! I think:

A. Who’s the audience?

B. Get straight to the point for those shorter stories.  Start with an intro, add in some pretty images and get to the points you need to get across. 

It’s hard to tell a story in 30-seconds, but you can do it. You can tell a good story in any amount of time with good imagery, good music [and knowing your audience and the point you want to make].

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IQ: The point you were trying to make with The New Black changed from conception of the idea to actual filming. What happened?

EK: Actually, Joe [Mills, an Ibex-sponsored climber] had brought up the original idea over a year ago. Originally, Joe wanted to be the first person to free climb The Hallucinogen Wall (an aid line) in the Black Canyon. When another guy ended up freeing it two weeks before Joe, he couldn’t stop thinking that there must be another route on this amazing wall. He thought of this old aid line that had never been freed and hadn’t even been climbed in 30 years.

A week before we were set to shoot, Joe went to check out some of the early pitches and to set fixed lines we’d be rappelling down (for filming). He came upon this blank roof – really low on the route. The only option through it would be setting a bunch of bolts. In the Black Canyon, there is a big debate about whether bolting is accepted. It’s a National Park and there is really no rule that says you can’t bolt as many bolts as you want, but there’s an unwritten rule that only 15 bolts per year can be added as a climbing collective. If that number is exceeded or abused, they could enact a rule to ban bolting completely in Black Canyon.  So in order to get around this blank roof, Joe would have had to place a bunch of bolts, and he wouldn’t do it. He has a lot of integrity in his climbing, so he threw in the towel. 

IQ: So you’re all set to film this amazing climber free a route that hasn’t been climbed – let alone ever freed – in 30 years. And your climber says no?

EK: Yes. He called me up the two days before I was set to fly out to Colorado and he told me that he wasn’t able to do the route. He would have had to set too many bolts and he wouldn’t do it. [Ed. Note: As Evan explained, it would be against the ethics of Black Canyon climbing community.] The story Joe and I were planning to tell changed overnight.

So I thought about our stories and about all climbing stories that make it to publication. Climbing is my background and it’s the main sport that I love to do. I’ve seen [nearly] every climbing film, and I’ve never seen a story – like the one that was setting up before us – where in the end, the climber is going to fail. [Irrelevant of skill] there’s no way Joe can do the route. His integrity as a climber is guaranteeing that he’ll fail in his physical goal.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell a story about a climber who had put in all this effort – nearly a year’s worth of work to do a single route – and leading up to the end, he realizes it can’t be done without forcing it or without jeopardizing the relationship between the Black Canyon and Park Rangers. That was it. It became a story about integrity, about ethics. It became about relationships between climbers and National Parks and Park staffs.

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IQ: By definition, the story in documentary filmmaking has to unfold organically. But it still takes a skilled observer to foster the most compelling storyline – especially when the story is changing rapidly. Now that all of us have video cameras on our phones, do you have any advice – creative or technical - for creating something watchable?

EK: Get creative with your angles. Try multiple angles and different perspectives. That makes [the raw footage] more interesting, especially if it’s shot with a lower quality camera like an iPhone.

Always set an establishing shot. And, in editing, learn how to weed out the crap.  You don’t need to put in every clip you shoot.

IQ: Worthy advice for just about everything in life! A few last rapid-fire questions.

  • What was the first movie you remember buying? My first DVD was Tommy Boy. I love that movie.
  • Which mainstream filmmakers do you admire? I love all the John Hughes films. I like Wes Anderson films for aesthetics. He does a really good job. I love Rushmore. It’s a really good film.
  • What about filmmakers in the outdoor adventure realm? Eric Perlman, who filmed the Masters of Stone Series. I love Masters of Stone V. Every climber should watch that movie. Josh and Brett Lowell of Big Up Productions do a really great job. Jimmy Chin for photography. Renan Ozturk of Camp 4 Collective for storytelling and visuals. I like the guys at Sherpa Cinemas, too. And definitely Fitz Cahall. He’s one of my top filmmakers as far as storytelling.

Thanks, Evan! Congrats again on the world premier of The Black Canyon: The New Black Project. We’re proud of you and look forward to your next production. 

Further Resources:

Adventure Film Festival
The complete Ibex video library on Vimeo
Masters of Stone
Big Up Productions
Jimmy Chin
Renan Ozturk
Sherpa Cinemas
Fitz Cahall, The Dirtbag Diaries

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Ibex Boston Retail Store Unified With Boston Strong! for 2014 Boston Marathon and Beyond

Strength isn’t measured by the ability to prevent tragedy; it’s measured by the resilience to find joy and community in life after tragedy. Boston and the people that make it such an extraordinary town exemplify such strength. Ibex is proud to be a member of the community in spirit and via our team of incredible employees at our retail shop on Newbury Street. 

The Boston Marathon celebrates its 118th year on April 21, 2014, and our Boston store is celebrating all things running and all things community.

Discounts to Boston marathoners: From April 17 – 23, anyone running in the marathon will receive 15% off full priced items in-store. Swing by and check out some of the new, summer-weight wool running picks. Once you go wool, you’ll never go back.

Cool down and perk up for marathon spectators: Given our front row seat to the running action, we’ll be serving up free refreshments for marathon spectators on Monday, April 21.

Inspired? Join our 5K training: The Ibex Boston team welcomes one and all to join group training runs for a 5K running race on May 19, 2014. Training started April 8th and continues through race day. We are hoping to have Darren Josey, a running wizard from Newton-based Topo Athletics*, stop by the store for a free coaching session for everyone in-training. Stop by the store for more info.

The plain old joy of running: According to assistant store manager, Zach Grigsby, “We tend to keep it very goofy and lighthearted on our runs. You will hear a lot of laughs.” If you’re outside of Boston, check out #livingibex on Instagram, and send in your own vision of the joy of running.

Here’s to you, Boston. For those running on Monday, April 21, we salute you and honor whatever motivated you to get out of bed each morning and train for the 26.2 miles of pleasure and pain. Whether one mile or 50, here’s to all of us who continue to put one foot in front of the other. It may be the purest expression of freedom, and we’re only limited by imagination in where we can go.

*A special shout out to Topo Athletics for outfitting the Ibex Boston team with kick-ass running shoes. We hope our legs and lungs can live up to the quality and potential of our new kicks. Also, thanks to Liana Hill and Zach Grigsby, manager and assistant manager of the Ibex Boston store, respectively, for their awesome work and for contributing to this post. 

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Vermont in the Spring - An Ibex Quiz

Our Spring catalog is hitting mailboxes in the weeks ahead and with it a look at some of the new things we’re doing with wool. Our new Weightless Wool collection brings the performance of our favorite fiber to active life, we added more prints for more summer tee options, and we have more lightweight wool dress options like our OD Circle dress and the Synergy Dress. But while touting wool’s benefits is often a matter of highlighting its performance or physical attributes, new designs and new features, the most useful quality of wool at this time of year is its ability to smooth over cabin fever.

Wearing wool can make the rougher days of “Spring” feel a touch better.  Here in Vermont, we have long springs. That is to say we have big swings in weather that might get a less hearty stock of people down. Spring tends to roll like this: Warm and sunny one day. Snowing the next. (And the next after that.) Repeat until summer. That gets tough, especially with most people in the Green Mountain state dreaming of swimming holes and barbecues after a March of powder skiing and Polar Vortex induced temperatures. This  kind of weather variability gave rise to Ibex the company, in the first place, but it takes a little getting used to. Hence we thought we’d come up with a quiz to see if you have what it takes to handle a Vermont spring. Dive in and see how you might shoulder the shoulder season in our home state:

1.     Is it Spring in Vermont?

a.     Yes

b.     No

c.      All of the above

2.     The forecast is for 65 degrees and sunny on Wednesday. What’s the proper way to gauge the accuracy of this forecast?

a.     Just read it, it will be spot on.

b.     Figure it will be 55 degrees F with a light rain and gusting winds.

c.      Count the cups of coffee it takes to get you out of bed on Thursday morning.

d.     Layer up and get on with it.

3.     Cold nights. Warm days.

a.     Isn’t that a Neil Diamond lyric?

b.     Mud season weather.

c.      Maple Syrup weather.

d.     Ayup.

4.     “No passing zones” in Vermont are optional

a.     True (stemming from how fast my car goes)

b.     True (stemming from laws around passing farm equipment)

c.      False (due to danger around spring flooding and snow melt)

d.     It doesn’t matter when you drive 15 mph under the limit

5.     You toss a stick to your dog, it returns with:

a.     The stick. (duh)

b.     A different stick.

c.      A severed deer leg found in the snow melt: Spring in Vermont. Bad dog.

d.     A scroll found on the back forty diagramming seven generations of your family.

6.     There’s some snow still in your yard after the long winter. You react by

a.     Generally being appalled.

b.     Shovel it into the driveway / road / neighbor’s yard.

c.      Ski it then enjoy a craft beer by campfire.

d.     Ignore it as you walk over it with mud boots on your way to milk cows in the morning.

7.     You have 99 ski days in by April 15th.  There’s just enough snow for a final day. You:

a.     Celebrate with another drive to the mountain. Lifts are still running after all.

b.     Forget it. These arbitrary numbers don’t matter.

c.      Hike up the nearest incline, take a run, call it good.

d.     Burn your skis. Clearly, they’ve become an intolerable distraction from staring off pensively towards the horizon.

8.     How many days do you wear a Woolies base layer between washes in the Spring?

a.     Once for each use.

b.     This is a trick question. You can go days without washing.

c.      I’ve never taken it off.

9.     When is it safe to plant your garden?

a.     Garden?

b.     In your kitchen with pots before June.

c.      In the Valley floors around Memorial Day. Wait another week if up high.

d.     With as much Swiss chard and kale as possible since they don’t freeze.

10. When does summer begin in Vermont?

a.     Sometime in July.

b.     Early June-ish

c.      When I put away the muck boots.

d.     June 21st

Scoring:

“A” answers are worth 5 points.

“B” answers are worth 10 points

“C” answers are worth 15 points

“D” answers are worth  20 points.

Results:

0 – 50 points You’re not from Vermont and you’re not likely to move here. Should you visit in the Spring, it’s best to bring warm clothes, be on the alert for black ice and budget your time wisely between microbreweries, ski slopes and your hotel room.

50- 125 points You love Vermont in the spring but you could do with a bit more sunshine and consistency. Fortunately, a healthy dose of maple syrup and the right wardrobe will get you through.

125 – 175 You’ve been living in, visiting or spending quality time with Vermont for  a long time. Chances are you remember the first Ibex logo, you know when even the Class 4 roads are ready for pedaling and you’ve paddle most of the spring runoff.

175 – 200 You are a seventh generation Dairy Farmer, a town selectman, an accomplished bird watcher and the unwitting subject of a Howard Frank Moser novel set in the Vermont springtime.

*Photo Disclaimer: The photo above was not taken in Vermont.  That was shot in the Olympic Peninsula - it’s a dream of what we wish our Spring’s actually looked like.  Though sometimes it does, but it might be covered in snow a couple hours later.

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An Open Letter From Our Lawyers: A Conscious Uncoupling From Our American And New Zealand Sheep

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In happier times…

The following is an excerpt of a letter received from our own (!!) lawyers over the weekend. First of all, we didn’t even know they worked on weekends. Second, who knew lawyers had unpublished weekend rates. Third, isn’t there some ethical question in representing the very sheep that we rely on for our livelihood? Fourth, what in the Sam Hill… nevermind. Just read the letter.

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one herd to dissolve the political and commercial bands which have connected them with another and to assume the powers of our of innate potential as noble sheep among men, a decent respect to the opinions of your less self-possessed species requires that they should declare the causes which impel the separation.”

The letter continues in a way that feels oddly familiar, though we can’t quite place why we’re experiencing a collective déjà vu. It’s not as though any of us have ever been through a sheep divorce before. But those wily sheep don’t even have the backbone to call it what it is. In their personal statement amidst the legalese, they wrote:

“With ruminant stomachs and hearts full of sadness, we, our American and Kiwi brethren, are choosing to consciously uncouple from you, Ibex, the petitionee. It’s not us; it’s you. We’ve reached the consensus that we, as a multi-national herd of feeling, eating, pooping and occasionally thinking sheep, we can no longer abide by this one-sided relationship. We don’t deny that you’ve treated us well, dear Ibex. But the end of our relationship must be faced with honesty and bravery, a trait for which you’ve never given us any credit. Face it, Ibex. You don’t appreciate us for our minds or our poetry or our sense of adventure. It is our contention that you love us for one thing and one thing only: our fleece. A relationship built on the superficiality of one’s (admittedly fabulous) hairstyle has no chance of weathering the tempestuous roller coaster of life.”

We’re hearing that conscious uncoupling is somehow less painful and more spiritually fulfilling than “divorce.” In these initial stages of the process, we’re not so sure that’s true. All of us at Ibex are devastated and simply hamstrung by questions. Did we truly never appreciate our sheep? Did any of us know they could read and write? Were we so taken by the quality of their wool that we never tried to get to know them on a deeper level? Did we treat them only like trophy sheep?

We respectfully request privacy during this difficult time. We continue on with our Uruguayan sheep herds, though we’re beginning to wonder if that’s only because our lawyers don’t speak enough Spanish to get some sort of a class action conscious uncoupling.

As you can imagine, this immediate drop in supply forces us to raise our prices for the indefinite future.

We hope your April 1st is off to a better start than ours.

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VIDEO: Design Of Adventure - The New Black

The New Black Trailer from Ibex Outdoor Clothing on Vimeo.

When we kicked off our Design of Adventure film series with Circles and the Firefly Bicycles crew, we knew we wanted to focus on the small pockets of culture - presenting the inside scoop on how an outdoor scene comes together.

So, in the last on the Design of Adventure films, we look at the angles of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado. We followed Joe Mills, an Ibex athlete and a work-a-day climber with a respect for the traditional expectations of the sport, modeling how to live well as a climber.

To Joe, seeing all of the angles means considering the ethical bents around climbing. Power tools and bolts are not in the character of classic climbing, something Joe respects. We do too. That’s why we went along with Joe, who was attempting a big challenge: finding a new route, a previously unclimbed line, angling through the walls of the Colorado canyon.

The New Black will be featured at this year’s Adventure Film Festival in Montrose, Colorado. Ibex filmmaker, Evan Kay will be on hand to answer questions about the process of making The New Black. He’ll also be leading workshops on adventure film making.

Follow the route. See the trailer for the Ibex-produced Black Canyon film, featured this year at the Adventure Film Festival.

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Ibex New Spring “Live” Collection Leaves More Time for Living

For spring and summer days that call for long brunches more than long runs, the Ibex Spring 2014 collection throws some easy-living style your way. This is not “shlubby sweatpants” easy. This is “one-stop office casual” and “effortless style” easy.  

Since it’s downright good-looking and on-trend, we hate to market the men’s Linerider Button Up as the shirt for men who don’t like to do laundry. But let’s call a spade a spade. This casual, yet utterly pulled-together shirt is appropriate for nearly every occasion. Because it’s Merino wool and therefore naturally odor resistant, you can go for days without washing it. We’d lobby for weeks without a laundry session, but we recommend checking in with your significant others and close friends first.

For women who are also seeking a life that maximizes style and simplicity, not to mention minimizes laundry time, Ibex presents the Lineup Dress, in lightweight jersey knit Merino. A faux-wrap style is flattering on every body without risking a wardrobe malfunction should you move too fast or too expressively. And cap sleeves make it appropriate for a casual office. Paired with a cardigan or a blazer and a skinny belt, it’s in-line for more formal settings. Lest we forget to mention how comfortable you’ll be at that ubiquitous brunch or sales meetings or errands or…

These are just two pieces of our new spring and summer weight apparel. For a full showing of our new line, check out the Men’s New Styles and Women’s New Styles.

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