Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Filming Rhapsody

We've sobered up, so some more thoughts to share:


To film climbing is all about getting your camera into the right position. Well, no, there is a lot more to it than that. But getting the right camera angle is hugely important.

On the gritstone of England there is often a convenient vantage point that you can stroll to. On steep overhanging limestone it is usually easy to get out in space anchored off bolts. But our challenge at Dumbarton is as tough as it gets. Ideally we would get a helicopter hovering 20 metres above and out from the crag, with a gyro stabilised HD camera. But then we realised that the airflow from the rotors might be a bit distracting for Mr Trotter. We also realised that £3,500 per day would have presented a quite significant bill at the end of the 4 weeks we have spent on this shoot.

In previous years we have used a camera on a 5 metre boom, with remote pan and tilt. We get some good shots, but as soon as the wind picks up it is like trying to control a rabid bitch on heat.
So we got our heads together. An A-Frame works well, but at Dumbarton we need to get up, as well as out.

Cory came up with the idea of a ladder. Yeah right. So I did a bit of engineering. And then the Hot Aches crash test dummy (aka Mr Diffley) had the balls to walk out on it.

On day one of 'ladder cam' it all went quite well. The technique is to shuffle out there delicately, then stick you head through the top rungs of the ladder, camera underneath, and look through the view finder.

On Friday afternoon Diff had to leave early for a TV shoot in Fort William. So it was down to me to walk the ladder and have faith in my own engineering. I have honestly never been so frightened in my life.

Sonnie went first. I was out there at 40 degrees, shaking like an idiot. The ladder would creak. I'm meant to concentrate on filming, but all I can think about is which point of attachment will fail first, and how I will plummet off the top of Dumbarton, wiping out Sonnie on what would have certainly this time been his successfull attempt.

Sonnie fell, and I didn't. So I sat on the top, promising myself that I wouldn't go out on the ladder again. But then it was Cory's turn. How could I not go out on the ladder? It would have been a message that I didn't think his project was as important as Sonnie's. And it is.

So I dug deep and went out there again. Cory fell, and so it was Sonnie's turn once more. No bloody choice. So out again. Controling my breathing, too deep and the ladder would creak. Then 3 creaks in a quick succession!



Monday.
Back at the crag and fortunately Diff is back with us. The wind is wild, roughly 25mph, gusting to 40. Diff is 15 metres above me, and I scream through the wind that there is no way he can go out on the ladder. He looks at me but my voice is lost in the wind. He climbs out there, right to the end. I reckon it is at least E8 to get to that point. But Diff shuffles along slowly with the swagger of either a true professional or a complete idiot.

Funilly enough we do a lot of film work for TV where someone is employed to look after health and safety. So we have learned to work with safety ropes and all sort of back ups. But if this was for TV we would have been shut down immediately. Shoot cancelled. End of story.

Another fall, then Cory falls too, and at 4pm Diff heads back out there. I keep quiet, shoot my section of the climb, and hope that Diff doesn't die, and if he does die, hope that he doesn't take out all of the climbing talent on his way down.

----------

So what else can I say. Everyone lived. The footage is superb. We hope you enjoy it when the DVD comes out this autumn.

--
Dave B

17 comments:

Dougald MacDonald said...

Will Gadd should have offered to hire the helicopter for you as long as he was offering to pay Sonnie and Cory's ticket-change fees.

Nice work, boys! Can't wait to see the footage.

Suzanne said...

I know I commented before at how scary that ladder looked, but your detailed account above just puts it in true perspective and now it sounds frightening.
"Kudos" to you both! (as the Canadians would say here in Canada) for the brave filming carried out. By the way I bought the other 2 films as I said I would, and noted Dave M was selling his copies with a free E book, and so I ordered one via you, and the other via him, however, when it went through paypal it all went via Dave M, how did that happen? Anyway I am sure you are all 'linked' with that somehow. Looking forward to the latest film viewing when it's out.

Lydia said...

Just wanted to thank you guys for all your hard work and for being completely wonderful people. So nice to have met you both.
Lydia

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