In 2020 Rock Climbing is to introduced as an Olympic Sport. Yes, as it turns out it currently the fastest growing in Asia. JLL along with Giro Agency in Singapore put together an idea to follow six young athletes as they prepare themselves to have a chance to represent their country on the big stage at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
A small team of just three of us headed to the Blue Mountains, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Japan to capture the six athletes in their home cities, and then at a joint high tech training facility in Tokyo where they were stretched to their absolute limits.
As a novice climber I jumped at the opportunity, and as I have never really been afraid of heights I figured, this will be heaps of fun... Which for the most part is was, although it would be fair to say I seriously under estimated just how hard it was going to be filming on the rock wall. When you are a good 50m up, or the equivalent of 15 stories high in city building speak, and you are clipped onto the wall with a single carabina, holding a Sony Video camera trying to change a lens, with a crowd of people below, yup, Sh…t gets pretty real..!
Camera wise we took with us a Sony Fs7 with two lovely Angenieux Cine zooms, a handful of primes, and canon zooms, And A7sMkII, 2 Go Pro 7s, and the new Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4K Camera, which became my new favourite camera. The Black Magic Pocket Camera I mostly ran on the new Ronin S, and used a Panasonic 7-14mm, and 12-35mm zoom. The beauty of this kit, is that the camera can shoot several different compressions of RAW, 444, 422, 422LT Prores, all in 4K at 60FPS..! It is small, and balancing on the Ronin S was as simple as lining it up, and pressing the on button.
Richard Vilensky the director wanted a visceral and kinetic feel to the edit and films, and as such the camera was pretty much always moving, either handheld with the Sony FS7, or on theBlack Magic Pocket Cinema Camera and Ronin S.
It was my first time filming in India, and a lot of my colleagues had previously explained how difficult it can be for foreign crews. We had a good fixer, we had locations locked in, we had security, we had helpers… [kind of…] But everyday, there were considerable hurdles to overcome. It is just a hard place to film, everything takes four times longer than expected, and the locals are over the top of us within 30 seconds of pulling a camera out. In one sequence we followed our Sidi, our Indian climber onto a local bus and covered their journey into the city. On the page this read across a few lines… In reality it was of the most challenging shoot days I have experienced. At one stage I had an entire bus load of angry Mumbai citizens yelling at me extremely loudly. We got off at the next stop…
The other cities were fun, but it would be fair to say Hong Kong was probably the best. It has a beautiful cross over of old and new, it has wonderful architecture, fantastic cuisine, and it is just such set in such an immense harbour with super graphic geography. I just love the place.
Overall the JLL Backstreet Rock Climbing Production was a huge success. It is currently in post, and well, I do feel for them. I think we shot something like 40 hours of rushes… Whoops… The series of six films will be available on Amazon later in the year.
Shooting a Running sequence in the rain, Hong Kong on the Black Magic Pocket 4K and Ronin S.