In “The Ghosts Above,” Sony Artisan photographer and filmmaker Renan Ozturk joins an expedition to solve the Mount Everest mystery of who reached the summit first. The film, directed by Ozturk along with Sony Artisan Taylor Rees and Jay MacMillan, follows the intense expedition and the team's conflicting emotions as they push up Everest searching for the long lost body of Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, who disappeared along with climbing partner George Mallory in their 1924 attempt to reach the summit.
"I think the single biggest challenge in making the film was the fact that Everest is so charged with preconceived notions of what it is...and there's truth to all of them," explains Ozturk. "So how do you do justice to the past, present and future of such a mountain?”
Whispers of the extractive nature of Western climbers using Sherpas to help with their dangerous climbing adventures as well as the overcrowding and trash issues on the mountain didn’t escape Ozturk. But, as the team of Sherpas and filmmakers pushed up the slopes of Everest in their search for Irvine's body and the camera he was rumored to have in his pocket, any stereotypes vaporized into the thin air.
“Each year there seems to be something that happens that changes the way people think of Everest. That year, in the eyes of the general public, the trash and crowd aspects of Everest were kind of villainized and one photo in particular of the line was published and passed around the world. I thought I would fall into that same thinking, but after experiencing the mountain firsthand it completely flipped the script for me. It changed everything.”
This further proves the importance of Ozturk bringing these original experiences to viewers. While nothing about climbing Everest was easy, Ozturk distracted himself from the pain by focusing his attention to his camera and what he was creating.
"When you're up there, every step and every breath is painful," Ozturk explains."But for some reason when you look into the viewfinder it takes you into that world as a photographer or cinematographer, and it almost causes your brain to shut off some of those pain receptors as you go into creative mode. The camera was a bit of an escape, but you don't want to escape too much. It was a balance between using the camera as a distraction but also knowing when to make the responsible decision to turn around because no story is worth dying for right now.”
“It's like with most things. When you find your passion in life, it often comes with a lot of sacrifice and becomes this thing that could kill you in certain situations. But if you don't do it, you're also dying inside emotionally. So especially with Everest, it's part of that push and pull.”
You can watch the full film next week here on Alpha Universe.