It was an idea born after a father-son hiking and camping weekend in the Adirondacks, during which 2011 Shaker graduate Blake Cortright stood atop one of New York State’s 46 high peaks.
“I got to look out as far as the eye could see,” said Cortright. “And I thought, wow, this is pretty magical. Someone should make a movie here, wouldn’t it be cool if it was me.”
That seemingly “dream big” mentality was one that Cortright says was fostered during his time at North Colonie. Before graduating high school, he had already produced a documentary short about the first boy scout encampment in America in 1910 at the Silver Bay YMCA in Lake George. Known as the “movie-making kid” in school, Cortright says he incorporated video into many of his class projects; a video featuring a Civil War reenactor for his history class and a James Bond movie for his physics class, to name a few. He was also a member of the morning announcements team while at Shaker and interned at WMHT in Troy.
“People encouraged me to go big and dream big, and I always had that support system. That spirit carried me through.”
It carried him through to what Cortright calls one of his most ambitious projects to date, ‘The 46ers,’ a documentary that took 100 hours of footage, 24 interviews and a $214,000 budget to produce. Cortright, who is the director of the documentary, co-produced it with his parents starting in August 2012 when the research began. Over the next three years, while a student at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Cortright continued his work on it and the film began to take shape. Primarily shot in the Central High Peaks region of New York State, ‘The 46ers’ focus is literally vast: the six million acre area of land in the state with 46 mountains which rise 4,000 feet in elevation. Cortright’s documentary tells the story of the people who summit all 46 mountains, 46ers.
“The 46ers is not just a documentary, it’s a love story between the mountains and the people who climb them,” he said.
PBS has started to air the documentary around the country on 26 stations in 15 states. So far, the film won the Seneca Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Documentary and has been entered into the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival as well.
“It’s been a pretty amazing journey to see it through from the funding to the shooting to the editing to the distribution,” said Cortright. “It’s really thrilling to see how it’s been received.”
‘The 46ers’ film premieres Monday, Dec. 4 in Albany’s Capital Region on WMHT Public Media at 7:30 p.m. and will air again on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 5:30 and 11:30 p.m.
Category: District News