ESPN to Air “Fire On The Mountain” on 10/28

Article Contributed by ESPN | Published on Monday, October 26, 2020

ESPN will air the film “Fire On The Mountain” by Chris Benchetler, with the addition of rare behind the scenes footage, on Wednesday, October 28 at 8 p.m. ET. Narrated by Hall of Fame basketball player and ESPN sportscaster Bill Walton, with music supervision by David Lemieux, audiovisual archivist and legacy manager for the Grateful Dead. The short film features some of action sports’ most legendary athletes: snowboarding’s Jeremy Jones, Danny Davis, Kimmy Fasani, surfing icon Rob Machado, and skiers Michelle Parker and Chris Benchetler. Captured over the course of the winter by cinematographer Tyler Hamlet of Flagship Independent. Produced and Directed by Benchetler and Hamlet, this visual journey features never before seen footage within nature, orchestrated by music of the Grateful Dead. Featuring original artwork by Benchetler and Skye Walker.

The film’s title is taken from the Grateful Dead song “Fire On The Mountain,” off the band’s album “Shakedown Street,” released in November 1978. Mickey Hart and Robert Hunter collaborated to create the song, which was first performed live at Winterland on March 18, 1977. The film also opens with a new original composition by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain called, “In The Beginning There Was Fire”.

“Fire On The Mountain” will also air on ABC on November 22 at 4 p.m. ET. Trailer:

Walton said: “Recently, while shadow boxing the apocalypse, and wandering the land, I came upon the creation of the world, and the birth of fire. I quickly spiraled round and round, and was immediately sucked into the vortex of Fire On The Mountain —The Movie. It has become a harmonic convergence of the highest order, bringing together the best of the best of the best—of everything, with as fine a group of young, dynamic, action-figure super-heroes, as there is in the known universe. Like me, they love the edge, nature, the groove, rhythm, sport, and the culture and rhythmic beat of the Grateful Dead. The new young guys asked me to speak. I channeled everyone and everything I’ve known in my now 53 years with the Grateful Dead. Mickey Hart, there from the beginning, led a responsive charge to my call to action. The result is Fire On The Mountain—The Movie, as great a project and team, driven by glorious purpose and song, as I've ever been a part of.”

Improvisation is the silver thread that weaves this film together. Just as the Grateful Dead did not fit their music into an established category, this short film finds a cast of some of the world’s best athletes on an improvisational journey of skiing, snowboarding, surfing, and music, complete with a soundtrack comprised of only Grateful Dead tunes. Shot during a snow and surf road trip, the journey starts in California where the athletes embark on a mission into the mountains. Mid-film finds the cast caught in the remote waters of the North Pole, followed by a psychedelic dreamscape appearing as skeletons shredding under the moonlight at Mammoth Mountain, and surfing in Indonesia. Similar to a Grateful Dead show, they start and end in the same place, but each of their respective experiences is a journey of their own.

"This is a project of people, places, and conditions all woven together, gaining momentum and adapting as Mother Nature orchestrates her plans—going with the snow, following the swell,” said filmmaker Chris Benchetler. “The Grateful Dead’s improvisational style lends itself to that same flow. Letting a moment in time and space take over, collectively sharing that experience, while the music blazes its course. This project has been about the appreciation for Earth, self-discovery, open-mindedness, and the improvisational jam of life. We’re so excited for it to be airing on the home of sports, ESPN.”