Penticton photographer and documentary filmmaker Dave Mai will be making his latest documentary with help from a $50,000 grant from Storyhive. (Contributed)

Penticton filmmaker receives $50,000 to make his Skaha Bluffs doc about mountain climbing photographers

Dave Mai can finally pursue his dream of making film, Higher Perspective

A Penticton photographer and documentary filmmaker is $50,000 richer after being selected for a grant to make his latest documentary film, Higher Perspective, set in the Skaha Bluffs.

“I felt like I could finally chase my dream of creating rock climbing movies,” said Dave Mai, who is has been a professional photographer, filmmaker and sound technician for over a decade and owns the production company, DM Productions.

“It was a big relief because I didn’t have to worry about the financial restriction of working a regular job and doing the 9 to 5 grind.”

READ MORE: Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

Using money awarded to him from Storyhive’s documentary edition, Mai will produce his documentary, which follows the stories of both climbing photographers and their subjects as they face immense challenges in pursuit of their passions and craft, a media release reads.

The project was one of 30 selected from 382 applications to Telus Storyhive’s Documentary Edition which awards money to storytellers making documentaries documenting local people, places, cultures and history.

Mai knows firsthand how difficult the job can be.

“Some of these locations are not easy to get to so there is a lot of suffering to get equipment out to the field and I’ve got figure out how to rig a rope to get to the position I want to shoot from. If you are just shooting from the ground, your shooting a butt and it’s not that interesting a shot.”

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“I like to get above and show the whole landscape all the while trying to stay attached to this rope and not die. It takes a lot of practicing. I rehearse my rigging on the ground and solidify my systems and always back up once. There is a lot of suffering and failure and learning from climbing.”

Mai, 30, is also a mountain climber. The skill is necessary to do the job well, he said.

“It becomes very apparent if you are not a mountain climber and you have to take these photos,” he explained. “It puts the climber at ease too. They know that you are not a liability and you are capable of safely getting into position. It’s a mental game as well so when you have someone flailing around that translates into the photo.”

His advice to those looking to pursue a career in creative fields like adventure photography and documentary filmmaking: “Keep shooting and just don’t stop.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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Filmmaker Dave Mai has received a Telus Storyhive grant to help make his next documentary on the challenges faced by climbing photographers and their subjects. (Contributed)

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