Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Filming in Monterey
Friend and fellow instructor Hugh Murphy was contacted by a production company working on a TV show to do some paragliding work. Hugh thought I'd enjoy working on the set as well, so he brought me in on it. Hugh coordinated with the producers, and chose Moneterey, California as the location for what they needed.
The idea behind the shoot was very cool. The stars of the show are Steve Leonard and Francis Manapul. Steve is a Vet and has been a wildlife presenter for tv shows around the world. Francis is a comic book artist, exploring the wildlife and adventure world with Steve. In this episode, they are exploring the world of large birds. As a segment of the program, they wanted to fly with Nicky Moss, and hear her story of being attacked by eagles while she was paragliding! Nicky is champion paraglider pilot, she holds several titles, and is a very accomplished XC pilot.
The first day was blocked, so sat in frustration all day. The crew decided to extend to a second day of shooting in hopes the wind would cooperate. Hugh couldn't make the second day, so the pressure was on me.
Standing in a tandem harness, sweating, with 6 cameras rolling, mics and radios recording, production crew standing by eagerly, and waiting for wind... Talk about stressful parawaiting! Francis was going tandem with me, and we were trying to get us in the air at the same time as Nicky on her solo wing, for the scene. Nicky anchored for Francis and I on the first launch, which went smoothly, but we found no lift and landed quickly.
Then we parawaited for what seemed like forever, while the tension was building in fear that we wouldn't get the shot. Finally it looked like wind was breaking through the block. We set up as quickly as we could (which is still slow while getting all cameras and mics set). Nicky anchored for us again, which was great because the wind was picking up QUICK!! Francis and I got in the air and immediately sky-ed out over the launch, and were almost parked. Unfortunately, the wind on the ground was cranking, and Nicky wasn't able to launch. We waited in the air as long as we could (now sliding down/crosswind slightly), after explaining dragging procedures to Francis, we went for a beach landing. As expected, we were pulled on to our backs after landing, but only drug a couple of feet. Luckily Nicky had told Steve we'd need a hand, and he sprinted over to grab a wing tip. ALL caught on cameraS...of course.
It looked like at that point the day was done, as even the hangglider that had been soaring was landing. We had some footage at least, but not the shots the crew wanted. An hour later, while the crew was working on some ground interview footage, I noticed the wind was dropping. At the very same time I saw Nicky's head turn around too, and we both jumped into action getting our gliders ready. The crew saw this, and they all raced to get everything set up and rolling. Within minutes, Nicky was airborne, and soaring nicely. Francis and I launched the tandem quickly behind her. We were finally in the air at the same time, what a beautiful thing. We were able to soar together for around 15-20 minutes while Francis and Nicky talked over the radio. Then, the wind started coming back and we decided it was time to land. Our landing this time was picture perfect...so I'm sure that'll end up on the cutting room floor. Francis was a great tandem passenger though, his take offs and landings were perfect and committed each time, so it made my job much easier.
At the end of the day, we got out my Artik 2, and did some filler shots with DOP Geoff Lackner (incredible photographer and cinematagrapher- Check his work out). Nicky and I took turns flying my Artik and open harness, which is much easier to manage when flying high wind touch and go-s on the dunes than her pod. It was great to end the day with Nicky smiling from having fun flights, and the crew smiling because they finally had the shot (I hope)....
More pictures from the shoot to come...
Setting up the helmet and harness cams in the parking lot.