Q&A: Samuel Crossley

Interested in attending the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival?

Samuel Crossley directed 2021 WMFF features “Free as Can Be”  We asked him a few questions, see our Q&A conversation below:

What is in your gear bag/kit?

While filming Free As Can Be, many shoot days consisted of me tagging along with Mark & Jordan as they went sport climbing for the day. I have a 70 liter backpack and don’t mind hiking with it full of gear. Still, since my production gear needed to share space with climbing gear plus a rope, it needed to be versatile, small and light. I used the Canon 1D-X ii paired mainly with just two lenses – a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS. For sound I used an on camera shotgun mic and two Tascam DR-10Ls recording internally. And because I don’t mind bringing extra tools to fill up the bag I also usually brought along a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, Canon 50mm f/1.2L, and if legal, a Mavic 2 Pro drone. If you’re into lists, here is the gear used to film sport climbing in Free As Can Be. Production Gear Canon 1D-X II (3x) 256gb CFast cards Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II 82mm Circular Polarizer and step up rings Rode VideoMicro x2 Tascam DR-10L Climbing Gear 70m static Big Wall Harness Gri-gri Left ascender Adjustable Foot stirrup) Carabiner with pully Two lockers Three alpine draws.

What item can you not live without?


My new Canon R5. I love it and the new lenses are better and lighter!

How do you choose music for your films?

I go through hundreds of songs on music licensing websites and services like Bopper, Artlist, Premium Beat, etc. Finding the right song isa long process of trial and error because plugging in a song into an edit is riddled with tests that are easy to fail. But when I find the perfect song that passes the tests and enhances the emotion of a scene, it’s so worth the trouble. The next film project I work on, I’d love to collaborate with a composer.

Most necessary character-quality for a director?


Who has been most influential in your directing career?


Chai Vasarhelyi Chin

Favorite on-set memory?

Mark was a joy to film and he often offered a dinner to Jordan and I that he calls “Stand-up Mex.” Back in his day, he had a group of friends that would rotate cooking duties. When it was his turn to cook, he’d prep a bunch of ingredients for a loaded quesadilla and, and lay it all out on a long table. Folks would get in line and make their quesadilla, moving down the table and at the end of the line, he’d cook it for them. Since everyone was standing as they tricked out their taco, he called it Stand-Up Mex. Today, it looks a little bit different, cooking quesadillas for us in his van. Luckily his van is one you can stand up in. There is something so lovely about being cooked for. So that’s one of my favorite onset moments that doesn’t make it in the film.

Craziest on-set/en route to set adventure?

Before I committed to making a film about Mark and Jordan, I had spent some time making images together.

More About Samuel Crossley


Known for his work on the Academy Award winning documentary, Free Solo, Samuel enjoys safely documenting athletes as they push themselves in remote areas and high risk situations. Big mountains and tired climbers fuel his creativity as he travels full-time. Samuel lives his professional life as an openly gay man and is passionate about revealing the diversity and human stories within the climbing community.