Interview: Fitz Cahall of "The Season" and "The Dirtbag Diaries"

What could be better than watching the first episode of The Season 2? An interview with Fitz Cahall, one of the masterminds behind the concept itself! Read on for Fitz's thoughts on all things related to The Season 2, and if you haven't already, you can catch the first episode at the end of this post.

What inspired you to create "The Season" in the first place?

Originally, I saw it as just another way to experiment with story telling.  I'd been writing seriously for a while. I'd launched the Diaries and they were doing well, but I saw this big lack in online video story telling in our community (It's improved since I came up with The Season idea four years ago). I was kind of curious about what it would be like to tell a story visually. I kept my eye out for a partner who had a similar aesthetic and sense of storytelling.  Bryan and I had friends of friends and we ended up meeting at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. I had the sense that he was the guy.

That inspiration though has evolved though. The Season 2 wouldn't have happened if I wasn't still inspired. What really keeps me intrigued is this notion that inside of all is the strength, resolve, determination to create and achieve the kind of goals The Season athletes pull off. Yes, they are unique. Yes, they are inspiring. And even kooky, if not oddly obsessive, but aren't we all. We often put our sport's great talents on pedestals, but they aren't supermen. They aren't all that different from you or I. I believe that all of us have the ability to surprise ourselves, to shape our lives in a way that makes us happy.  For me, that's where I'm finding inspiration. The athletes, people we work with...they've cast their lives in the form that works for them.  To me that's inspiring.  And be able to take that message to others -- that's why I did The Season 2.

What was the most challenging part about creating "The Season 2?"

The weather. It seems funny to whine about that, but I don't think that Bryan and I realized how lucky we were with the weather when we shot  The Season.  This time, we came really close to getting hosed on a few different occasions, which is really stressful whether you've got a giant budget or a tiny budget.  You get one chance at a trip, so if you spend half of that waiting out rain, it's ulcer inducing. The bad weather just seemed to follow us. To interior B.C., to Colorado, and to California. We rallied through it. We worked through a lot of days that I think I normally might have just called it quits on.  I was cold a lot. I pretty much shivered through a lot of the filming.  In fact, I'm not sure I ever warmed up from last year. I know it's been blazing every where else, but in Seattle it's been a really cold year. God, I sound like an old person. 

The most rewarding?

The small moments are the best.  In early June, we climbed Mount Rainier with our skier Greg Hill. It was a difficult trip from a physical standpoint. We were going to climb to routes on Rainier in two days with all of our ski gear and cameras. We got  a late start on our way to establishing a base camp, and Bryan and I ended up a ways back. In the dark and both of us were pretty tired.  We basically battled through. Bryan slipped once and took a bit of a spill -- definitely the scariest moment.  We made it to camp at midnight.  I had the stove, so I cooked up food for the team and we passed out knowing we'd have to wake up in a few hours. I woke up before the alarm. The snoring was all time.  Just the most ridiculous snoring you could ever imagine.  There are for of us in this alpine tent and everyone is just ripping away. I had to pull the camera out really soft like so that I could get it.  It was just so ridiculous, but also so indicative of my years in wild places.  It's definitely those moments that stand out.  Things like waiting out a lightening storm in Colorado.  Patiently sitting on a ridge for the light. This is what I will remember.

How do you choose the athletes you feature?

It's all about the story or the potential for the story.  While we are fortunate to work with some really talented individuals, it always comes down to them as a person and a creative individual.  We start with a list of potential athletes and start asking ourselves "What makes this interesting?"

Bryan and I have different interests and skill sets in the outdoors. He's a world class paddler. Water scares the crap out of me.  He's not a climber. I've lived in that word for 15 years. I can't just say "This story is really interesting because Climber X wants to climb a 5.14 that someone else climbed before."  That might interest me, but to a non-climber it's boring. Talent isn't enough.  So we both have to be interested in an athlete as a person.  The story has to be honest.

Can we expect "The Season 3?"

No idea. If you told me there would be a sequel before we launched this project, I would have laughed. We've been super honored by the response from our community.  I'll be up to something.

Episode 1 is Now Live! Watch and be amazed:

It begins...The Season 2.1 from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.


Great interview Katie! (As always.)

And thanks to Fitz for giving his time to share a little behind-the-scenes moments. Hearing that the beautiful and memorable moments are in the details... how the most ordinary moments are often the ones that take our breath away and create the lasting impressions. I've certainly felt that on our road trip!

Can't wait to see the whole series!