New Zealand Feature to Dramatize the First Ascent of Mt. Everest in 3D

Edmund Hillary in 1953
Edmund Hillary in 1953
 Getty Images

SYDNEY -- The epic story of the first known ascent of Mt. Everest by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay is to be made into a 3D feature by award-winning N.Z. documentary maker Leanne Pooley.

Production on Beyond the Edge gets under way this week at Aoraki, Mt. Cook, in New Zealand ‘s South Island, with some filming also to take place at Everest.

While the film’s main focus will be on the climb itself, it will follow the story a young Hillary, a man from modest beginnings who overcame his own demons and battled nature’s raw cruelty to conquer the highest peak in the world.

Beyond the Edge will use original color footage, voice recordings and photographs from the time as well as dramatic re-creations of the assault on the world’s highest peak. The Royal Geographical Society in London, which supported the 1953 Everest expedition, is supplying photographs and original materials from its archives.

Stepping into the climbing boots of the young Hillary is Chad Moffitt from Nelson, New Zealand, with Sonam Sherpa, originally from Nepal but now a New Zealand resident living in Mt. Cook, to play Norgay.

Producer Matthew Metcalfe said: “Beyond the Edge will allow the audience to share the danger and intensity of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s legendary assault and to relive all the drama of the 1953 British expedition in a completely thrilling and realistic way. With the fantastic combination of Leanne’s experience in telling real-life stories in a dramatic way, award-winning production and technical expertise within our crew and the use of 3D we feel that this epic story will be a true audience pleaser. I am also delighted that we have been able to work with the Hillary family to tell this truly incredible story.”

Writer and director Leanne Pooley added: “Beyond the Edge is a gift for a filmmaker. Like the conquest of Everest itself, Beyond the Edge will be a film that pounds a stake in the ground establishing once and for all that Sir Edmund Hillary’s triumph on top of the world wasn’t just a huge accomplishment, but an epic story that helped to define an epoch in human history. It is my goal to take audiences around the world on a journey up the mountain that will remind them of the sheer scale of the achievement.”

Also joining the crew is Grant Major, an Oscar winner for his work on The Lord of The Rings: Return of the King, as production designer; Richard Bluck, who served as second unit DOP on the Rings trilogy, Avatar and The Hobbit, as director of photography; and Barbara Darragh, whose credits include River Queen and Bridge to Terabithia, as costume designer.  

The 3D postproduction will be handled by local firm Digital Post in Auckland.

Beyond the Edge is a General Film Corporation Film supported by the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air's Platinum Fund, Digifilm, TVNZ, Rialto Distribution and the New Zealand Government's Screen Production Incentive Fund.

Rialto Distribution will release the film in Australia and New Zealand later in 2013.

International sales will be handled by U.K.-based Altitude Film Sales.

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