Who are you and how did you get to Brooklyn?
I’m Neal Mann, I moved to Brooklyn five years ago from London. I’m British originally and moved over here for a job which back then was as a journalist for The Wall Street Journal. I now work for Anomaly, a creative agency, as Director of Content Strategy.
Awesome. How did you start climbing?
My dad was a mountaineer and climber so I used to spend a lot of time in the mountains as a kid, strangely though I didn’t fully get into climbing until my late teens. I think I’d been too involved in other more traditionally sports. I really got heavily into it at uni in the north of England and did my postgrad in Sheffield – one of the best climbing scenes in the world.
The sport dominated my life in my twenties and I’m a training addict so as my career took off it eventually became too much for me and I gave it up for five years. I’d been covering the Arab Spring as a journalist in 2011 and I think it was too much to do alongside climbing full time. I really got back into it this January as there are too many 5-star lines close to NYC to ignore. That’s also when I decided to launch The Project Magazine.
It looks so good. So it seems like climbing has influenced your career in a big way.
I wouldn’t be doing the job I am now and living in NYC if it weren’t for climbing. My parents bought me a video camera to shoot climbing films with, I loved it and it ultimately led to me training as a TV journalist and my eventual career.
That’s also why I’m launching The Project Magazine.
Climbing is by nature a really creative sport – particularly bouldering. You spend so much time standing around that so many people pick up a camera and learn to shoot photography and film. I think there are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t have done that without the sport, I most likely wouldn’t be where I am without it.
I felt there was an opportunity to launch a collaborative platform for those people to showcase their work in climbing on a platform better than an Instagram or Facebook feed. It was also a great opportunity for me to pass my skills onto people who haven’t been as fortunate as me to have the career and experience I have.
Congratulations on your launch! We’re excited to see what comes next. What are your current biggest projects, on and off the wall?
I’m getting married in July, so to be honest organizing that is the biggest project I’ve ever had. I’m also trying to get back to my old strength levels by the fall as I’d like to do some of the North East classics like Something From Nothing on the speed boulder at Great Barrington.
Awesome. Last question – who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people trying to do things differently and progress. A huge part of the site is about highlighting creative people within the climbing community – many of which just do their own thing on a corner of the internet, which is inspiring to me.
Climbing-wise, there are a few people who really inspire me – Mina Leslie-wujastyk in the UK who features in The Project Magazine’s first film is an incredibly climber, she always gives it her all. I always enjoy having a session with Ty Landman. We’ve known each other for years but it never ceases to amaze me how he moves on rock, he’s probably the most natural climber I’ve ever seen.