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Hanging on one of the walls of Tate MacDowell’s treatment center in California is a photo of the Grand Teton. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Brian McDonnell also has a landscape of the Grand in his treatment facility. Together, they decide they’re going to beat colorectal cancer and train to climb the mountain.
Teton Gravity Research’s new 30-minute film delves into their journey, and fans will notice that it comes after another intense film called “Andy Irons: Kissed By God” about the talented and troubled surfer who died at 32 of an overdose.
Todd Jones, director of the new film and co-founder of TGR, said he connected MacDowell and McDonnell after hearing separately of their diagnoses. He said the story started out as a “high-five” or feel-good film, but as time went on and as test results came back, the plot thickened.
While TGR is known already for intricate films, these deeper, more emotional stories are the company’s next evolution. “Looking back, the other stuff we do is great because it’s inspiring and motivational and I’ve met people who say it changed their lives because they saw it and wanted to pursue that dream and adventure,” said Todd Jones, director of the film. “We’ve had that along the way, but I think Mountain in the Hallway and the Andy Irons documentary are hitting a whole new level of starting conversation and creating awareness to dig into serious things that surround us all.”