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David Breashears
Lecturer
Center for Executive Education

dfbreash1@nps.edu

 

 

David Breashears is a filmmaker, adventurer, author, and mountaineer. Since 1978 he has combined his skills in climbing and filmmaking to complete a wide variety of adventure film projects. Over the past twenty-eight years, Breashears has worked on 40 film projects, ranging from full-length feature films to music videos. A sampling of his film credits include: Co-producer and Second Unit Director of Working Title Films’ dramatic feature film EVEREST (2004-2005); Producer, Director and Director of Photography for Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa (2001); Co-producer, Co-director and Director of Photography for Everest: The Death Zone (1997); Director of Photography for Seven Years In Tibet (1996); Co-Producer, Co-Director, Director of Photography, Expedition Leader for the IMAX film Everest (1996); Director of Photography and Field-producer for Mystery of the Inca Mummy (1995), a National Geographic Explorer film shot in Peru; Director of Photography and Producer of the Telluride MountainFilm Festival Grand Prize-winning Red Flag Over Tibet (1994), a Frontline, WGBH-TV program shot in Tibet, India and Nepal; and Cliffhanger (1993), a feature film starring Sylvester Stallone, for which he was a cameraman, climbing consultant and advisor.

In 1983, Breashears transmitted the first live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest, and in 1985 became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest twice. The recipient of four National Emmy Awards for achievement in cinematography, he is one of the world's most experienced adventure filmmakers. His work has taken him to remote locations in Tibet, China, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Central Asia and East Africa.

In the spring of 1996 Breashears co-directed and photographed the first ever IMAX film on Mount Everest. When the now infamous blizzard of May 10, 1996 hit Mount Everest, killing eight climbers, Breashears and his team were in the midst of making this historic film. In the tragedy that soon followed, Breashears and his team stopped filming to assist several of the stranded climbers to safety. He and his expedition members were later recognized for their courageous efforts. Breashears and his team then regrouped and reached the summit of the mountain on May 23, 1996 achieving their goal of becoming the first to attain IMAX film images from the top of the world. Breashears has said that if there is a lesson to be learned from the May ’96 tragedy, it is that for him, success was not being the first IMAX team to summit, it was that everyone on his team returned safely. The film, titled Everest, premiered in March 1998 and has been shown in more than 300 IMAX theaters throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The allure of Mount Everest made this project the most eagerly anticipated and most successful IMAX film of all time.

In 1997 he co-produced and photographed Everest: The Death Zone for the PBS series NOVA, once again reaching the summit of Everest with camera in hand. This was his fourth ascent. He is the author or co-author of three best-selling books; Everest: Mountain Without Mercy (National Geographic Books), Last Climb (National Geographic Books), and his published memoir High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places (Simon & Schuster). His most recent IMAX film about Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa is also subject of the National Geographic book published in 2002, Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa.

Breashears’ is presently engaged as Co-producer and Second Unit Director of Working Title Films’ dramatic feature film EVEREST which will chronicle the tragic events on Everest in 1996. Equipped with a 35mm motion picture camera and 35mm stills camera, David made is fifth ascent of Everest while leading his handpicked team to the summit in Spring 2004 to shoot background images for the film. A documentary of Breashears’ ascent, and the extreme challenges of high-altitude filmmaking, was recorded by team members using digital video cameras. Stephen Daldry, director of the Academy Award nominated films Billy Elliot and The Hours, will direct the film. EVEREST will start principal photography in Spring 2005 and will be released worldwide by Universal Studios.