Compelled to tell stories of outdoor exploration, The North Face Adventure Grant 2014 recipient Paul Hersey, shares the journey to Anidesha Chuli, Nepal in his film The Moments We Make. Screened at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival, Paul Hersey presented the film to a packed house in Wanaka.

We talk to Paul about his passion for story telling, and the challenges of weaving exploration and filmmaking.

Is The Moments We Make your directorial debut? What is your background in film?

This is the second film I have directed. The first – One Fine Day On A Mountain – I made with editor/producer Tony Rac and won a Special Jury Award at the 2013 New Zealand Mountain Film Festival. I have no other background in film, but my writing and photography experience seems to translate to this medium. I must point out that most of the hard yards in the actual film making process is done by the editor/producer. With The Moments We Make, my wife Shelley spent many hours in front of the computer trying to knit the footage together to match the story idea I had come up with.

What are the added challenges when trying to document an expedition, rather than just executing one?

The difference is colossal. All the extra technical gear required (cameras, lenses, batteries, SD cards, solar chargers, tripod, slider, external recording device, computer); the extra time required to constantly shoot footage (instead of just walking or climbing somewhere, there needs to be a plan of how to capture the experience and the time required, managing the ability to advance the expedition while still recording it, and the added risk); and the requirement to shoot footage when things aren’t going well (during bad weather, dealing with the cold, when you’re tired or need to sleep, in the middle of arguments and sickness – the rough times can be magic in the editing room).

What compels you to document, and share your stories of exploration with a wider audience?

I’m a story teller. Through my books, photography and film, I love to communicate ideas, and reinforce what’s important in our lives – that we sometimes lose perspective of – and hopefully inspire others. It’s gold when I get feedback from someone that I’ve helped them in some way.

Name an adventure film that has inspired you greatly.

Cold by Cory Richards showed how important the story is. He didn’t have the greatest footage, but he still recorded a powerful experience. I got to meet Cory a few years back, and he reckons the secret is to cry on camera.

What makes the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival a special one, that people should seek out?

I applaud what Mark and Jo have managed to achieve with the festival. It’s the whole experience and a celebration of what’s great about being an outdoor enthusiast. There is such a spread of films to watch. I’ve gotten to meet some cool adventurers and share stories with them. Every time I come away from the festival totally inspired for my next adventure and to be a better story teller.

Will there be another expedition to Anidesha Chuli in the future?

We were planning to go back to Nepal in 2016, not to try Anidesha Chuli, but another mountain nearby. But the recent earthquakes (and our own experience of the prolonged aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes) means we will postpone till 2017.

Advice to adventurers who want to start documenting their own expeditions?

There is plenty of what I like to call ‘adventure porn’ out there, but for me the most important thing is the story. Start out small – you’ll be shocked how much extra work is required, and if you commit to an extravagant film with potential sponsors, it may inhibit your opportunity to be successful in the expedition. This is a fine line to judge, and recognising where that line is comes from experience. If possible, get advice from others beforehand so you don’t go through the same mistakes. The film school at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival is a good place to start.

To check out Paul’s film, and other films screening at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival head to their website. Tickets are still available for sessions in Wanaka, Cromwell and Queenstown.