Seven years after Blake Cortright's first documentary, a 26-minute look at the history of the Boy Scouts, aired on WMHT-Channel 17, he's back again with an hour-long film on the Adirondack Mountains.
"The 46ers," to be televised Monday night at 7:30 p.m., not only has film footage from the top of Mount Marcy, it also offers breathtaking views from high above the High Peaks.
Cortright was a 10th grader at Shaker High in 2010 when he first immersed himself in Adirondack Mountain history to produce "The First Encampment," a film that celebrated 100 years of the Boys Scouts. His second documentary project began back in 2012 and was done in 2015. It was originally picked up by WCNY in Syracuse early last year and has been shown on PBS stations around the country. WMHT fans get their first look at it Monday night.
"In August of 2012 my brother, my dad and I hiked the tallest peak in New York, Mt. Marcy, as part of a trip we had planned," said Cortight. "We were looking to do six High Peaks over a three-day weekend, and we ended up just doing three. We walked away with a new sense of humility toward the mountains, and also a reverence that grew more and more as I spent more time on the project."
Cortright's film focuses on the love for the Adirondacks demonstrated by members of The 46ers, an exclusive group of outdoor enthusiasts who have climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks measuring more than 4,000 feet.
"My original plan when I started this was to have climbed all 46 by the time I had this project done," said Cortright. "I hurt my knee so that slowed me down, but I will finish them some day."
After he graduated from Shaker High in 2011, Cortright attended Regent University in Virginia Beach on a full academic scholarship to study film-making. With his college education out of the way in 2015, Cortright went to work for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid, a not-for-profit marketing organization promoting Essex County.
"I spent my last two years up there in Lake Placid and now I'm back home in the Capital District promoting my film and doing freelance work," said Cortright. "I had done a lot of cinematography at Regent and been involved in some short films, but 'The 46ers' is my second film. I was very happy to get picked up by WCNY in Syracuse, and now we've been broadcast on 25 PBS stations in 15 different states. WCNY was the presenting station, and they have made it available for a national audience, and now WMHT has picked it up."
Cortright said his film should be interesting for both outdoor lovers and history buffs.
"The documentary is saturated in history, but I don't get into a lot of detail other than stuff directly relating to the 46ers," said Cortright. "I use some historic photos, but most of the film is the stunning visual footage that my crew and I were able to come up with."
Cortright has already started thinking about his third film.
"It's not going to be a documentary," he said. "It's in its early stages, but it's going to be a narrative feature film, a movie with actors."