All photos by Jeremy Swanson
The amount of fun that we have doing our jobs is sometimes ridiculous. Inevitably, we’re in a spectacular location working with teams of passionate and talented people who also love what they do. When everything is clicking on a production, the energy is contagious and people get giddy shooting amazing shots. On some days, everything just falls into place: crew is on time, the transportation is organized, the athletes are ready and pumped, and Mother Nature delivers a very rare and special show.
What most people don’t see is the phenomenal amount of planning, preparation, hard work, editing and pure luck that come into play to make a shoot successful. To give you a glimpse, here’s how a particular day shook out during the filming of INSIGHT, the new short ski film by Vital Films of Aspen, Colorado.
April 10, 2013. The alarm goes off at 3:30 am; way too early for a sane person. Head to the office to load up the gear we prepped the night before. The Colorado high country has been blessed with some late-season storms, but we’re at the end of the line for shooting this segment of the film. The ski lifts close tomorrow. This is it, gotta get it done. The van is packed with gear and we head up the road to meet the crew at the base area for the 5am call time. The snowcat is warmed and ready when we arrive, all set to claw its way up the hill with the entire crew onboard.
About halfway up to our first location, we realize that we are breaking through a snowy cloud layer that was laid down overnight. All of a sudden we are being dazzled by impossible columns of shimmering crystals, hanging frozen in the air and illuminated by the rising sun. We all start to scurry, about 15 of us, readying our gear to start shooting the moment the cat stops.
We jump out of the cat and everyone is scrambling to start laying down B-roll shots of the amazing scene. It’s totally frigid out and fingers go numb quickly, but we just keep rolling. Matt and Cael from Vital Films work on getting tight detail shots of Aidan.
We ready the copter and get in the air as quickly as possible to start getting B-roll of the surreal morning scene.
We are shooting Aidan on a series of huge terrain features, and our position on the hill allows us to follow him with the copter for a solid distance of around 1500’ before flying back up hill. As we flight-track him on the features, we are dropping in elevation which allows us to essentially fly in dive attitude and get some huge speed. Bringing the copter in for a quick battery change.
Here’s a great sequence shot by Jeremy Swanson. Notice the copter in the upper right of the photo.
This was one of those days where everything fell into place. We had a blast working with a talented and passionate crew. Huge props to Jeremy Swanson, Vital Films, Aidan Sheahan, Aspen/Snowmass and all involved. Check out the finished product on Vimeo’s Staff Picks.