The Whistler

Blue Mountains   -  Australia


Bluetopia – the movie

View the movie's TRAILER ABOVE and the FULL MOVIE BELOW.

Bluetopia is the most extensive video coverage of extreme adventure sports yet made about the Blue Mountains. It covers BASE jumping, highlining, canyoning and rock-climbing and takes viewers into places most people living in the mountains will never visit.

Bluetopia was made by a group calling themselves Mission Control Collective – a community initiative to create digital content with an evolutionary intent.

“We’re a group of talented people who believe in the passionate pursuit of what you love to do,” says their Facebook page.” With our epicenter in the Blue Mountains, close to Sydney, Australia, the Mission Control team are spread all over the world.

“We’re Emergency doctors, one-time IT Law specialists, humanitarian workers in conflict zones and much more.”

Film-maker and adventurer, Simon Blair, shared some thoughts behind his film Bluetopia with Vertical Life magazine in January 2015.

Over two years, Simon and his film partner Peter Wyllie developed their ideas for the project by email.  “These ideas coalesced into a vision to show our adventurous lives in the Blue Mountains,” says Simon, “to celebrate the experience of climbing and the real reasons we, as a community, get out there as often as we can.”

They were intrigued by the possibilities offered by a new and relatively affordable technology – the drone. It would allow them to present strikingly the beautiful vistas they see from lookouts and when they’re secured by ropes on cliff faces.

“We sensed this new technology could enable motivated independent film-makers to create something unique, outside the standard studio or commercially-sponsored channels. This meant freedom. We could make the kind of film we wanted without any compromises. This was a compelling prospect.

“So we bought a DJI Phantom [drone], we hacked it to be able to frame cinematic shots from the ground and we learnt to fly it to the edge of its envelope.

“We knew this film would be a team enterprise and so set about finding the people we needed, starting with those we already knew well. Most of the people involved have been close friends since school and university.

“Many of us grew up adventuring together on weekend trips from Sydney. We were teenage adventure commuters. Years later we found ourselves spread all over the globe: in Afghanistan working for NGOs, in Syria doing photojournalism for assorted international press, in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory doing medical training.

“But finally, in June 2014, we were all in the Blue Mountains again, if temporarily. It was winter, it was cold and windy. But the light was amazing.”

Their aim was to make adventure pursuits understandable to people who had never tried them, but there was also another motive – to address some of the pressing questions the world faces today.

“It’s almost impossible to open a magazine or read a news site online without being reminded of the big issues the world needs to deal with. Rising temperatures. Scarcity of important resources. Surging world population. Repeated global economic crises.

“It’s pretty clear if you extrapolate based on the current trajectory then humanity could be heading towards some shade of catastrophe. The intelligent response would be to start making changes. So why can’t we see it as an opportunity? Remaking the way we live as a species on this planet? Surely that has to be the biggest adventure ever.

“From the outset we knew we wanted our film to represent the breadth of adventure to be found in our home in the Blue Mountains – a home that is a symbiotic ecosystem of adventure enthusiasts.

“The trail runners who sign up for the gruelling North Face 100 ultra marathon. The canyoners who explore the deepest, darkest depths. The high liners who set up their tensioned tight ropes for brief festivals furtively advertised like urban raves.

“There’s a lot going on up here, all of it linked across social and environmental webs, and we wanted our film to honour that diversity and connectivity.

“We knew this film would involve a lot of adventurous pursuits but we always wanted to make a film that explored ideas beyond the narrow confines of specialist disciplines like climbing and BASE.

“We felt there were two things that united us all, whatever it was we did to enter the wilderness. The first was community. All the activities we show get like-minded people together. Personally, one of my favourite things about climbing, whether it’s Centennial Glen or the Céüse Massif, is meeting cool, motivated people from all over the world.

“I’m sure a lot of us have had that experience where the person who you meet over a Gri Gri catch is sleeping on your lounge the next day. Or perhaps you’ve been the one waking up on the couch. We feel that climbing encourages a community-oriented outlook on the world and we wanted to celebrate that.

“The second is a love of nature. And not a distant love but a ‘let’s get covered in dirt but leave no rubbish behind’ kind of love.

“Whether you climb overhanging off-widths, launch off cliffs with a parachute or run a hundred kilometres through the wilderness, you get to see amazing places that most people only get to see in National Geographic style photo spreads.

“It’s easy to take that natural bounty for granted but if we don’t then our experience out there is amplified. We live in a wonderland.”

But how did they decide on Bluetopia for the video’s title?

“Utopia is a term that’s entered into the vernacular but it was originally the title of a 17th century philosophical treatise by Thomas Moore. The work described a perfect society but Utopia, as the author well knew, means ‘No Place’ in Ancient Greek.

“There was in his choice of title a somewhat satirical suggestion that this vision, this ideal, could never actually exist. And so we chose to critique Moore’s critique with our title to describe this amazing place we call home and share amazing adventures in.

“What more do we need really? This isn’t some imagined ideal with no postcode. It’s a real place. We exist. Bluetopia.”


Blog – The Making of Bluetopia
Vertical Life magazine


The Whistler is a not-for-profit online magazine published in Australia's Blue Mountains by a retired journalist. It's readable on smartphones, tablets and desktops — and even on your TV with Apple TV.

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