SPEECH BY: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill
FILM: “Free Solo”
Q. Congratulations. I’m so happy for you guys. It’s such an important movie. I want to ask you, what was the scariest moment for you on set? Obviously it was a lot of scary moments, but for you, what was the moment that really caught your breath?
A. (Jimmy Chin) It was ‑‑ God, I don’t even know. Hanging off the wall, I couldn’t see Alex below, and I just had to trust that he was being perfect. And we also had to carry the weight of the entire production being perfect because, if we made any mistakes, it could have been catastrophic, and so there was a lot of pressure at that moment, and that was probably the most stressful moment.
A. (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) And I just want to add that they were perfect.
Q. Congratulations. I’m from Portugal, and I know that your Foley ‑‑ all of the Foley work was done in Portugal by Loudness Films. So I was wondering, first of all, how did you come across them, and how important was that, the ‑‑ all of the sound effects, to give the viewer really a notion of how dangerous everything was?
A. (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) I mean, the audio is as important as the incredible cinematography that happened; that’s what we believe. And we had a full Foley artist in Portugal, and it’s because we have our supervising sound editor now for six films and Deborah Wallach, and she had found this wonderful talent in Portugal. I don’t know, the sound is how you’re there. And we understood that, and we also had a great, like, production mixer who managed to mic Alex. There were, like, cuts in his shirt. The mic was in his chalk bag. And especially when you have no gear, how Alex breathes. Like his ‑‑ just the sound of the very, very discrete movements. That was everything for us.
Q. Congratulations to all of you. Extraordinary work. Jimmy, in particular, we’re curious if you did a documentary in China what it might be about, and what do you think of the Chinese film makers?
A. (Jimmy Chin) I think there’s some brilliant Chinese filmmakers. And HERO is one of my favorite films; JU DOU. I grew up watching Zhang Yimou, and we’d love to make a documentary there. I haven’t got ‑‑ we aren’t able to make any decisions until we got through this weekend but, yeah, [Speaks in Chinese].
Q. So nice to finally meet you. I guess rock climbing is so far like non‑Hollywood, so I would like to know what it was like being here this morning getting ready, how glamourous it is as opposed to rock climbing? That sort of stuff.
A. (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) It’s all you, baby.
A. (Jimmy Chin) I mean, it’s completely surreal. We spend most of our lives climbing in some of the various wild landscapes around the world, and to be kind of embraced in this community, we feel like interlopers, but it’s been amazing. I think that it’s because we threw our hearts into making this film, the high‑angle team. We know what heart is about because we climb, because we love it, and we’re passionate about it. And we’re passionate about the wild places that we go, and I think that that’s reflected in the film, and I think that’s why people embraced the film.
Q. Elizabeth, you are half Hungarian?
A. (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) Yes.
Q. So I wonder how Hungarian are you, and how Hungarian are your children? And when can we see you in Budapest?
A. (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi) So my name is Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. My father is Hungarian. You can see how Hungarian I am. But, no, just my dad is everything. My dad was born in Budapest, and then he moved to Brazil. And I think it was all about ‑‑ he always exposed me to so many other types of stories in the world, and FREE SOLO is very much about that. It’s appreciation of the beauty of film, the importance of film, and also that, like, us in America, we’re not everything. There’s so much more out there.
A. And children. Our children, their last names are Vasarhelyi‑Chin. They’re very Hungarian. Poor kids. Okay. We’ll just say, poor kids. It’s a big name to spell.
Q. I interviewed Alex on Thursday because he’s from Sacramento. He didn’t know anything about the Academy Awards, said he had never seen the show, he lives most of his life in a van. You’ve been with him tonight, and he was on stage. Has he got a little glimpse of what it’s about now? How do you think he’s feeling?
A. (Evan Hayes) Oh, yeah, he’s got it. This has been a long, long journey. And, yeah, he’s ‑‑ hanging with Brie Larson and having Jason Momoa belay him in a climbing gym and his dissection of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6 and the climbing on that film, you should watch. No, but he’s embedded, thrilled; we’re thrilled for him. Yeah, he deserves so much of the credit for this.