Producer Michael Brown Discusses Documentary The Weight of Water at Longmont’s Boulder International Film Festival

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Michael Brown at BIFF in Longmont (Photo by Brittany McNamara/ Longmont Observer)

Saturday, March 2, producer Michael Brown addressed a sold-out crowd at the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) in Longmont about his recent documentary, The Weight of Water.

Brown, a Coloradoan living in Boulder County, has a long list of accomplishments, including successfully summiting Mount Everest five times, founding Serac Adventure Films out of Boulder in 1992 and continuing to run it today, and winning three Emmys and several film festival awards.

His latest film, The Weight of Water, tells the captivating story of Coloradoan Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to successfully summit Mount Everest in 2001, as he attempts his first solo kayak run of the Grand Canyon. Erik and his team spend 21 days kayaking the river and rapids with the ultimate goal of navigating the extremely difficult Lava Falls.

The Weight of Water received Grand Prize and Best Film – Mountain Sports at the 2018 Banff Mountain Film Competition and the People’s Choice Award at the 2018 Denver International Film Festival.

Filmgoers both feel and see Weihenmayer tackle his fears and navigate his way down the unpredictable rapids of the Colorado River. The cinematography beautifully captures Weihenmayer’s emotions, especially his fear and nerves, making it easy for the audience to connect and identify with him. As he maneuvers through the rapids, you can feel the entire audience tense up and hold their breath in anticipation of the outcome.

During the question and answer session, Brown commented on the connection between viewers and Weihenmayer from a production perspective.

“There’s a lot of time with your main character’s face just on the screen. That’s one of the techniques I’ve applied to this film, was to film Erik just sitting doing nothing. A lot of the scenes where we’re just floating down the river, I basically asked him to hold on to my boat while I filmed so that we could just get those intense reactions…He’s so expressive, and he becomes so vulnerable. It’s just, I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better character the way that he was on camera.”

The Weight of Water isn’t the first film that Brown and Weihenmayer have worked on together. Brown filmed Weihenmayer’s 2001 Everest summit for the documentary Farther Than The Eye Can See. The two have stayed in close contact over the years. Brown even went so far as to say that he thinks of Weihenmayer as a brother.

The Weight of Water also takes a hard look at what it means to be in the moment. It develops into a big theme of the film as Erik struggles to “be in the moment” throughout the kayaking trip while he grapples with his fears and nerves, and kayaking abilities.

“Erik put it this way, he said, ‘You know, if you get just a few seconds in a day where you’re in the moment, or minutes within a 21 day trip down the Canyon, that’s worth all the effort.'” Brown continued, “That idea of being in the moment, I think we all just want to have that a little bit. And that’s also the value of the Grand Canyon as a place, because you need that place in order to have that experience. Otherwise, it’s so easy to get distracted. And then, once you’re there in it and doing it day, after day, after day, there’s a magical transformation that happens to all of us.”

The Weight of Water will screen again at BIFF Fort Collins Film Festival this Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Lincoln Center. Michael Brown will be in person. Tickets for the film can be purchased on the Lincoln Center website.

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