Making my way through old shots for other projects often results in finding stuff I had completely forgotten about. Before we lived in the Bay Area, I was there for some other reason. I was down near the water and there was a film crew working on a production of some sort. The character was on a dock and was approached by some other guys at which point he falls into the water. There was a diver that got set up in the water beforehand for safety purposes. Then they filmed the sequence. I don’t recall them doing it more than once which made it easier than drying the guy off and giving him fresh clothes, I guess!
Walking through the streets of Vancouver one weekend, we came up to an intersection. There was a Porsche sitting on a trailer with two people in it. It quickly became apparent that they were doing some filming. The woman was an actor and the man was filming here. There was a vehicle pulling the trailer with some of the production staff sitting on it. Initially I was focused on what they were doing but then I started to look around.
The whole convoy was all related to the filming. There was a motorcycle escort supporting them and other vehicles from the production team. Everything on the street was controlled. You often feel when watching street scenes that they are filming in an open environment but a lot of the time it is totally controlled. Only us and the other pedestrians could be considered random variables in the whole process. The light stayed red for a while with the cameraman trying a variety of positions and then the lights changed and the whole ground headed off to the next block. We went on our way too.
Top Gun 2 is in production at the moment. There has been much activity around the Super Hornets on the west coast and their involvement in the film with one jet getting photographed a bit in Pete Mitchell’s colors. What I didn’t know was that the production has been on the road. While up at Whidbey Island we saw a Super Bug launching towards us. Based Growlers are of interest and Super Bugs less so but we still shot it. As it got closer, it was clearly painted up differently and we realized we had Maverick’s plane in frame. It flew a straight out departure and we didn’t see it return before we left but it was kind of a pleasant surprise to get it at all!
These shots are from a few years ago. I had the privilege to spend a day with the late Alan Purwin during the filming for one of the Transformers movies in Chicago. I got to fly with them on some of the shoot but I also was on the ground when they went off on part of the filming. I put myself directly ahead of the Astar when they took off and Alan buzzed me. I noticed when going through the images that the cameraman was tracking me with the stabilized mount on the nose as they flew over the top.
I missed the best of this event. I got to Everett towards the end of a filming session with a Gulfstream G650ER jet. An Astar was being used to film the jet as it flew some approaches. I had actually noticed the jet online earlier in the day because it had been flying orbits over some of the islands and showed up on FlightRadar24. I didn’t know what it was at the time but, once I got to Everett it all became clear. I didn’t get anything of the Astar as I didn’t have the camera out when I first arrived but I did get a shot or two of the Gulfstream near the end of the flights. Looked like a fun sortie to be involved with.
If you are not too young, you may have watched a TV show in the 90s called Northern Exposure. Set in the fictional town of Cicely Alaska, it revolved around a young doctor from New York who had been sponsored through school and, in order to fulfill his sponsorship obligations, had to go and work in this remote town. It was a quirky show and I liked it. It wasn’t filmed in Alaska though. The exterior work was mainly done in a town called Roslyn that sits just on the other side of the Cascades from Seattle. We decided to take a trip.
Roslyn was a mining town for many years. However, when the coal became too uneconomic to mine, things got very quiet. There is a little museum in the center of the town which includes a display outside of some of the mining equipment. There is also a memorial to the miners including a lengthy list of those that lost their lives in the mines.
There are a few buildings that you might recognize from the TV show. The opening sequence of the show includes a moose wandering around the town and passing a café called Roslyn’s Café. The apostrophe and s were added for that sequence but the Roslyn Café is still there and we had a good lunch inside. The doctor’s office is now a gift shop in which you can get plenty of Northern Exposure related goodies. The tavern that was central to the show, The Brick, is also there although clearly the interior shots were done on a stage since it looks very different.
The drive to Roslyn takes you across the Cascades via Snoqualmie Pass and it is a pretty drive on its own but Roslyn was a fun place to visit. It is a small town with a few interesting shops and no shortage of places to eat and drink. We also wandered out of the center a bit, up the hill to see the local church. Then we headed on our way.
The team from Helinet was in town recently as part of a movie shoot. With the end of the shoot coming up, I was asked to get some shots of the helicopter in the city. Alan knows exactly what he is doing when flying in amongst the city buildings and can put the helicopter wherever I wanted it for the images. We even got lucky with some great weather. (The following day, it was foggy and no go at all!)
With some advance planning and some good communication during the shoot, we were able to position the helicopter to look dynamic in amongst the buildings. It would have been good to get some video too but time was limited and stills were required so that is what we did. A fun shoot and great people to work with.
Every once in a while, I am reminded of something that has happened before and I realize that this took place in the days before I started blogging. Then I have to decide whether it is fair to you, my dedicated reader, to roll out something that is several years old as a blog post. If it is interesting enough, why not. Besides, my life is not always so interesting so getting material is a case of taking it when you have it.
The subject in this case is a helicopter. “no, surely not” I hear you cry. It’s not like I ever write about or photograph helicopters. This is true. Indeed, this helicopter was involved in filming in the city which, as some recent posts will show, is not a particularly new topic either. This film, though, was Transformers 3. The filming of Transformers was a big deal in the city. Major streets were shut for days at a time and set construction to make them look like they had been demolished was impressive. As I think about it, I should probably post some pictures of that too at some point (note to self…).
Alan Purwin of Helinet was the pilot for the helicopter used for filming. It was a Eurocopter Astar (Squirrel for those of you in the UK and Ecureuil for the French speakers). It had a large camera mount on the nose to hold the cinema camera. Until recently, it was relatively easy to tell movie shoots from TV shoots by the size of the mount. Now film cameras are being replaced with such digital powerhouses as the Reds, the mount sizes are no longer so obvious.
There was filming day and night (including people skydiving into the shots from other helicopters and, if memory serves, the Trump Tower) and some pretty dramatic explosions. The Astar would fly around the river a lot getting shots and sometimes the shots were of people on the buildings so it would be flying close to them. All of this was a treat for someone like me. Just watching it was great fun but I got some shots too.
The plan had been to write a piece on Helinet. However, Paramount were not keen on having anything come out until the movie was released (a year later!) so the article stumbled a little. Then, there was an accident on one of the sets out of the city in which a woman received terrible injuries and the whole production schedule changed and Alan headed off to other projects. It would be nice to follow that one up again at some point.
The new Transformers movie is currently filming in Chicago. Some aerial filming was recently scheduled and we got advanced notice since it was going to make things a little disrupted in the morning. They were opening three of the bridges along the river and a helicopter was running through at low level filming sequences.
The filming work was being carried out by Alan Purwin of Helinet. Often, when filming is underway, it is hard to get close and get anything recorded. Obviously, they don’t want people filming there own stuff. Also, they don’t want you appearing in the shot. Fortunately, I found a spot where they were happy for us to be and that gave us a view, even if it was a bit restricted.
I actually moved from my first spot. The helicopter was so low I could only just see the top of the rotor head as it passed. The second spot gave a more open view. Watching from that close was very impressive. It took a couple of hours since they had to open up and close down areas between passes. Watching them come in was easy but coming the other way was a bit of guesswork as the helicopter could be heard but only appeared suddenly. Still, another good chance to shoot helicopters in the city. Am I getting repetitive?
Something I haven’t seen for a while is any filming activity around the city. We have two big movies being shot in Chicago this summer but I don’t think I have seen anything of them at work yet (unless this is it). When the filming is underway, you often get a helicopter shooting film from the air. A turret on the nose holds the camera and the mount is operated by someone inside the helicopter while the pilot positions for the shots that are required.
I heard a Eurocopter Astar (Squirrel for non-US readers) flying around (not unusual since the local TV stations use them predominantly) but noticed it was a different aircraft with a more prominent mount. I have seen this Astar doing filming work in the past but not for a while. The sun was getting low but I decided to try and grab some shots as it came around.
Of course, just as I did this, it made a couple more passes and then left. However, it did return later. By now the light was getting very low. I suspect the shots he was getting of the city looked great but it was getting tricky to get anything good of him. However, it is always fun to try.