Rock-climbing film finalist

Queenstown climber Thomas Van den Berg scales ''the Leviathan'', considered one of Wye Creek's...
Queenstown climber Thomas Van den Berg scales ''the Leviathan'', considered one of Wye Creek's most difficult climbs. Photo by UphighNZ.

Keeping a camera steady while suspended from an overhanging rock face was just one of the challenges Guillaume Charton faced while making his film about a Queenstown rock-climbing ''gem''.

Charton's film Wye we love it! has been selected as a finalist in the best New Zealand-made film category of the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival, which opens in Queenstown on Thursday.

It features jaw-dropping footage of Queenstown climbers Sally Ford, Mark Austin, Estelle Poiron and Thomas Van den Berg making ascents of various routes at the Wye Creek climbing area, about 18km south of the resort in the Remarkables range.

It also includes interviews with the climbers and delves into the history of the area.

Charton spent two months filming late last year before spending another two months editing six hours of footage - and more than 6000 still photos for a time-lapse effect - down to the film's 14-minute length.

Filming had its challenges, such as trying to keep his camera steady while hanging 30m above the ground from a rock face, he said.

The son of a mountain guide, he had been climbing since he was 5, and although the risk level was very high, it was ''highly calculated''.

A French language teacher at Wakatipu High School for the past decade and president of the Queenstown Climbing Club, he said his film was about ''climbers doing what they love the most''.

''Hopefully, it's going to excite young people - and their parents.''

Wye Creek was one of the best rock-climbing areas in New Zealand, with hundreds of routes.

However, it remained a ''hidden gem'' because of its relative inaccessibility.

A 30-minute walk from the road deterred many climbers, meaning the rock faces had not become ''polished'', he said.

Wye we love it! will be screened at the Queenstown Memorial Hall on Thursday as part of the second session beginning at 7pm.

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