Back in May 2012, I headed north of the Arctic Circle to Clyde River on Baffin Island to assist in a SkiBASE commercial for Pirelli Tires. It was a co-production of RSA Films and Camp 4 Collective. I was brought on as a DIT and Cineflex Tech. I could write quite a few blog posts about this trip, and I probably will eventually, but here’s the real quick rundown:
It was a very small crew, maybe 12 of us plus local guides. I knew only 3 of the crew members before the trip. The cinematographers and athletes stayed out on the ice in Sam Ford Fjord for almost 2 weeks. I stayed back in Clyde River with some of the producers and the Cineflex operator. We were about 100 miles away from the main crew, which is quick in a heli, but about 8 hours by snowmachine. Our only communication was intermittent sat phone service. When you’re that far north, you have to point the sat phone almost vertical at the horizon. If there’s a cliff in the way, no signal. We were also at the beginning of the endless summer – no sunsets.
The original idea was that media from the field would be relayed to me via the helicopter every day. But because of weather conditions, the heli never flew. Everything depended on the heli for shots, media and supply transport. So we had to adapt fast. For the crew, that meant hiking for shots and lines multiple times a day. The BASE jumpers could get maybe 2 jumps a day. The cinematographers had to find angles that looked like heli angles to match the story boards. For me, it meant that I had to transfer, color correct and transcode footage from multiple shoot days in 2 large chunks, instead of at the end of every shoot day. Because almost 2 weeks of shots got back to me in only 2 chunks, the cinematographers had to be very stingy with their media. It was like shooting film again. The last chunk got to me when the shoot was over and due to flight schedules, it was a 48 hour no sleep marathon to prep the drives headed back to London for post. I’m bummed I never got to fly in the heli with the Cineflex, but I think the commercial turned out great and we all had a great time. I still tell stories about it all the time and it was one of my greatest production experiences.
Here’s a short behind the scenes from the shoot. In case you’re wondering, no, we didn’t have that SUV out there. While we were up there, another crew was in Toronto on a sound stage with the SUV hanging from wires in front of a green screen.