ABOUT THE FILM
In the aftermath of a freak accident, a nomadic tower climber is forced to repair the connections he needs most -- With his family.
Given our tech-driven and communication-obsessed culture, it’s highly likely that you’re reading this while multitasking on your smartphone. But as is the case with so many commodity industries like data, the true cost of all this connectivity often eludes us. This disconnect is what drove us to write the film HIGH, set in the fascinating and rarely seen world of telecom tower climbers. In the aftermath of a tragic accident, team foreman Butch Robbins leads his crew through the brutal Buffalo winter to finish their job on deadline and save the company, all without losing the connection he needs most—to his family back home.
In the summer of 2014, Tisha Robinson-Daly was working in that industry as a project manager when a friend and colleague reported news of a harrowing incident: In the haze of that dense Kentucky summer, Joel Metz (28) and his team worked diligently on the scalding steel to replace an antenna atop a 240-foot tower. Suddenly, a cable snapped. Joel, father of four, was killed instantly, and his body hung in its harness for more than five hours while emergency workers struggled to bring him back down.
As a telecom worker, storyteller and citizen, this was a transformative moment for Tisha—Joel’s tragic story and the grief his partner and four young sons experienced was deeply affecting. Determined to shed more light on this hidden world, Tisha’s research soon uncovered a grim reality—climbers regularly faced brutal deaths (OSHA called it the most dangerous job in America), but their working conditions often remained underreported and shrouded in silence
Over the next few years, Tisha shared stories through social media and documentary work to advocate for climbers via her nonprofit, “HIGH the Movement.” In 2017, she workshopped an early draft of HIGH’s script at the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, where Tisha first met fellow Philadelphia-based filmmaker, now long-time collaborator and this article’s co-author, Jonathan Mason. From then, the two of us set our goal to write and direct together a gripping, cinematic story about the price of communication and preserving the family unit in America today.
- Tisha and Jonathan
A BRIEF TIMELINE OF OUR PROGRESS
For the past six months, we've been designing and producing a short proof-of-concept to test the viability of using virtual production for our tower scenes. While we shot this as a test, we're now confident that we can scale up to produce more intricate and choreographed tower scenes safely and on budget.