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Dec 7, 2023 by Gordy Megroz
Photograph Dallas Hartwig

Meet a Creative: Mike Call

Cinematographer & Documentary Filmmaker

Home Base / Salt Lake City, Utah

Activities / Climbing, Snowboarding, Trail Running, Surfing, Mountain Biking.

Why Mike

Born and raised at the base of Mount Olympus, just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, Call spent his childhood scrambling around the mountain’s rocky outcroppings. “It was the late 1980s, and there were few badass climbers there I got to know,” he says. “I would use my dad’s Sony Handycam to shoot them. I had no idea I would do it as a profession someday.” In 2000, Call helped found Pusher, a company that manufactured training equipment for climbers. “We needed content to promote the products and I ended up doing a lot of the shooting,” he says. “And that’s when I realized I wanted to shoot full time.” Call did some work for a local production house, then, in 2009, he got a big break. “A friend was working on the movie 127 Hours, and they needed somebody to do the high-angle shots,” says Call. (Starring James Franco, 127 Hours tells the story of Aron Ralston getting trapped by a boulder in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon and escaping by amputating his own arm). Call’s background filming climbers made him perfect for the job. 

Climbing and rigging are two children from the same mother. Mike in Utah figuring it out as he goes.

These days, Call is still shooting from dangerous places, but he’s focused just as much on the storytelling as the location. “More than anything,” he says, “I’m an emotive storyteller. It’s not about the specific activity, it’s about what the activity brings out in people. Rock climbing brought me into the world of filmmaking, but filmmaking opened me up to all manner of storytelling.”

If you came up in the business shooting athletes on rock walls, it's not a big step to film urban settings.
A more beautiful skyline.

Mike Call’s creative vision transcends the lens, and in fact, begins in the mountains. His ability to capture the essence of the climbing life is unique because it’s through the eyes of someone who has lived it.

Chris Parker Head of branded content for Black Diamond Equipment
On a climbing shoot with Chris Sharma in China. Photo: Boone Speed

Specialized Skills

“I can produce, shoot, and direct, even on a shoestring budget,” says Call. “I have the experience to take on everything and get the job done.”

Different element. Same medium. Photo: Kipp Schorr

What's Next

Call is currently working on a feature film about sport climbing. “We just started development but we’re hoping to have it out by 2025,” he says. “It’s the biggest production I’ve taken on.”