a short documentary
DLFA The Film
The DLFA was a haphazard assortment of young misfits unified by their unwavering pursuit of climbing, partying, and testing the boundaries of socially acceptable behavior. During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s they established bold first ascents at Devil's Lake State Park and elsewhere in the Midwest. Their spirit of youthful nonconformity and brash rebellion is enshrined in the group's full name: The Devil's Lake Fukness Association.
A kind of rock climbing "manifest destiny" emerged during this era when many of the climbing areas in the US had vast amounts of unclimbed rock. All over the country, ﬁrst ascents were being established by those with a vision of what was possible and how high the “bar” could be raised. Climbing development of this magnitude may never happen again in the US. In addition to pioneering difficult ascents and achieving new levels of technical climbing, many of the routes put up by DLFA members were dangerous R/X rated lead climbs that have seen very few ascents since the 1980s. Their influence and achievements remain prevalent today as climbers still aspire to soberly repeat and climb the “test piece” routes established by the DLFA.
This film project started with a basic idea, a small crew, and a minuscule budget. The first step in the process was to identify and track down the original DLFA members in order to piece together their story. Since most of them had moved to various regions across America, I was forced to move into my van and travel cross country to shoot interviews for the film.
Once principle photography was complete, I created a Kickstarter project to raise funds for the post production phase, primarily to record an original soundtrack with fellow musicians in Austin, TX. The Kickstarter project was a huge success and I was able to raise almost $8,000 dollars to aid the ﬁlm's completion. I immediately made travel arrangements for myself and several musicians and we converged on Austin to record at Sweatbox Studio with sound engineer Mike Vasquez. With some careful planning, intense rehearsals, and huge vats of caffeine we were able to record a full 19 song soundtrack in only 50 hours of studio time with Mike.
In the fall of 2012 I returned to the Midwest to shoot pickup shots for the film and I am now back in California for the final stages of editing. Countless hours have gone into this project - tracking down former DLFA members, acquiring and scanning photo negatives and historical footage as well as writing, recording and mastering an original soundtrack.
As climbing continues to evolve and years go by, people sometimes forget where we have come from. They don't know the people or the story of those with the vision and determination to push the standards of what is possible. My goal is to bring you an off beat look into a unique time and place in climbing history.