Jen Crook - Single Pitch Award


Jen Crook

What do you do for work?

I am a freelance filmmaker and photographer. Most of my projects are based around adventure documentary or art related to outdoor stuff, but really I’m open to any interesting projects, fascinating characters and anything that provides insight into the human condition.

How did you get into adventure film making?

I did an MFA (Master of Fine Art) in Film Directing at Edinburgh College of Art, where I mostly concentrated on drama.

After graduating, however, being a climber and outdoorsy loving person, the two worlds of drama and adventure felt like they clashed a bit so I eventually ‘gave in’ to adventure doc and just started finding projects to shoot and edit into short films either myself or in small crews with fellow film-makers. Since climbers know climbers and film-makers know film-makers, projects naturally come up and there is always lots going on. I am also planning some big adventures of my own and will be self-shooting solo expeditions and developing them into films over the next few years.

Preparing for the big wall

When did you start climbing? Who introduced you to it?

I started climbing when I was 23 after joining RAF Mountain Rescue as a Reservist whilst doing an MSc in Theoretical Physics at St. Andrews before I came to Edinburgh to do my Film degree. I did a load of trad climbing through Mountain Rescue and also met lots of climbers through it so had the great opportunity of going out with people much more experienced than me a lot of the time. I got totally hooked on training at the wall too and have wanted to climb ever since! I also started going out with a climber from the team, which always helps and provided some healthy competition to try and overtake him too!

Have you always been active/sporty?

No! I used to be into partying and socialising as a teenager, smoked full time and hated running. I gave up smoking out of fear of the RAF fitness test when I joined as a reservist, then got into Mountain Rescue in my second year and trained my nuts off to keep up with the guys on the team. So the first time I felt fit was when I was 24.

If you could go anywhere for a day’s climbing, where would it be?

The immediate answer that springs to mind is winter on the Ben (Ben Nevis) with a nice crispy top out at sunset. Nothing quite beats that. But I also LOVE the sun so for summer / trad, big walling on El Cap abroad or Gogarth or the slate quarries in North Wales for home. I love UK climbing and the fact that it stands alone as its own, proud type, but I also love the scale of climbing you get elsewhere in the world. I would also love to climb in Antarctica and Patagonia.

Big wall climbing

When and why did you decide to gain the Single Pitch Award?

I completed my Single Pitch Award to take on a freelance job at EICA Ratho. This was last winter and projects have taken over so I haven’t actually worked there yet to date, but it’s a good qualification to have in the bag for freelance work anyway so I’m happy to have got it done.

What were the best and most challenging things about the scheme?

The scheme was fun for me as it got me revising some old skill sets learned with Mountain Rescue. I like being confident in my systems and also my ability to improvise systems in non-textbook scenarios.

What advice would you give to anyone else considering the scheme?

Know your systems and practise so you feel confident when you do your assessment. Being nervous would take the fun away from it for me.

What adventures have you got planned for the future?

I am planning a big adventure to Antarctica in 2018, when I will attempt walk to the pole and back from the edge of the Antarctic land mass, solo, unsupported. This is a huge project and there is a lot of planning and training to do between now and then. I also have loads of interesting film and photography projects and ideas on the go so am super psyched to get these done in the meantime. I also self-shot what has become known as the ‘Scottish Slog’ trip that I did with my dog, Haggis, this winter, when we walked from Gretna to Cape Wrath and camped out January to March, so there is a huge amount of editing to do now to make into a film this year. So it’s pretty all go at the moment!