Two brand-spanking new DVD’s hit the shelves just in time for Xmas; Psyche from Posing Productions (a.ka. Alastair Lee) and Hard XS from Slackjaw (a.k.a. Richard Heap and Ben Pritchard). I was delighted to collaborate with both film makers last year such that viewers of said films can see bits of yours truly featured in both productions…


OK, perhaps ‘featured’ is over-egging the cake a tad?... A handful of my stills shots appeared in Psyche including the so-called ‘Mutant Arm of Steve McClure’ – an image of Steve on the headwall of Northern Lights (F9a) at Kilnsey and the now, well-known, ‘bat hanging’ shots of Steve on Overshadow (F9a+). Viewers of Hard XS will be treated– though perhaps subjected would be a better description – to me contextualising Steve’s efforts on Overshadow prior to his first ascent on Whitsun bank holiday Monday last year.


I will resist the urge to write an in-depth review these films; I’ll leave that for the film critics. However, I simply can’t resist the opportunity to add a three-pennyworth in passing. As a climber and stills photographer, I see these shorts - as the mini-films that make up both Psyche and Hard XS are known - as fascinating. What a wonderful medium they are; a quick dip into someone’s climbing life (or misery!), get under their skin, hit it hard and then get out and off to another subject - usually leaving the viewer gagging for more. My take, for what it’s worth, is that whilst Psyche and Hard XS both focus on similar subjects their approach is quite different and that two great films emerge as a result.


Both DVDs feature, for example, Steve McClure on various high-profile routes in the UK and Europe. Magic Numbers in Psyche is undeniably high octane. Viewers are treated to high-speed action, doubtlessly captured by specialist (or at the very least very expensive) camera technologies, which is both speeded up and slowed down to add yet more emphasis onto the action. Stills are also included to great effect (then I would say that wouldn’t I?) to supplement footage. Psyche rattles along at a fair old pace with action sequence following action sequence. Steve McClure 9a+ in Hard XS mixes action and poignant cuts in what seems more equal measure. One of the defining moments for me is the clip of Steve McClure wrestling with his redpointing tactics for Overshadow; “I can’t redpoint this until I rest – but I can’t rest until I redpoint it…” His frustration is obvious – redpointers the world over have all been there!


Both Psyche and Hard XS have their respective USPs and I’m sure that both will become classics. In some ways they are as different as chalk and cheese, or perhaps that should be chalk and limestone, but they also share a quintessential Britishness – not least because they are both devoid of any hype! What I think is great though, is that UK film makers keep on producing quality climbing films. Big up dudes!


More details of both films can be seen at:

Posing Production ( and

Slackjaw (