From the get-go, directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin knew that creating a film about Alex Honnold’s remarkable El Capitan free solo climb was going to be riddled with challenges. First off, in order to even capture the film Free Solo, they needed an elite team of climbers who also possessed exceptional cinematography skills. Those needs alone narrowed their pool to a select group of individuals.
But beyond carrying heavy equipment and thousands of feet rope, the whole team shouldered the looming fear of a worst case scenario: what if Alex was unsuccessful? Chai Vasarhelyi and Chin sat down with Vanity Fair to share some of the forethought and planning that went into the groundbreaking film, which set a new level for documentary filmmaking.