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After making a name for himself as one of the UK’s leading base jumpers, wingsuit pilot and adventurer, Adventure Together follows ex-Royal Marine Commando, Tim Howell as he explores the idyllic country of Iceland in search for the perfect jump with fellow wingsuit pilot and fiancé, Ewa Kalisiewicz.
Known in the industry as the ‘Wingsuit Power Couple,’ Adventure Together looks deeper into both multifaceted individuals and their relationship following their personal journey and the unique emotions of a relationship that calculates the stakes of a high risk sport.
‘Adventure Together’ captures the true experience of base jumping and the thrill of the adventure. To celebrate its release and discover some of the complexities behind it’s filming, EDGEsport caught up with the cast and crew to find out more about their trip to Iceland.
“THE LANDSCAPE IS SO CRAZY I KNEW WE WOULD FIND JUMPS THERE, WHAT WE FOUND WAS WAY MORE THEN I COULD HAVE IMAGINED”
— TIM HOWELL
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE FILM COME FROM ORIGINALLY?
“Ewa and I had wanted to visit Iceland for a while, we always look for locations with climbing, wingsuiting and low BASE jumps, so this seemed like a great location. So when George mentioned an opportunity to film a project I thought creating a film about our relationship would be interesting”.
WHY WAS ICELAND CHOSEN AS THE DESTINATION, ARE THERE A LOT OF JUMPS THERE?
“Iceland has always been on my radar to explore, the landscape is so crazy I knew we would find jumps there, what we found was way more then I could have imagined. I knew a guy who opened a wingsuit jump there a few years ago. Finding wingsuit jumps in locations like Iceland I knew would create some stunning visuals”.
WAS IT A HARD DECISION TO BOTH BE ON CAMERA?
“Maybe for Ewa more than myself! Haha”
DO YOU THINK THE PROJECT ALLOWED YOU TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER A LITTLE MORE?
“I think we already know each other very well! But it was nice to hear it in a different way”.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BRINGING THIS PROJECT TO LIFE?
“It was all about the logistics, I have made several documentaries around the world but this one was one of the most challenging due to the uncertainty of every variable…we wouldn’t know where they would jump until we got to jump zone, the health and safety risk of crew climbing 6 hours up a mountain with camera equipment, weather contingency (if any?) we got caught in a wind storm for 6 hours and had to camp out in a wooden hut all day.
I put as many measures in place to ensure the crew and talent were safe. We hired a vehicle which allowed us to drive to all areas of Iceland, bought charging units so we could charge batteries and laptops through the car power system.
George and Chris are experienced shooting outdoors and from height so we had safety measures in place, the guys were harnessed in when filming from the edge of the mountain etc. The key part of safety for Tim and Ewa was for us to not interrupt them whilst they were ready to jump. When you are filming someone who is about to make a jump of that height there should be no interruptions, the crew has to be ready at any time. There was no room for error, the crew were amazing and respected that critical moment before the jump”.
“THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR ERROR, THE CREW WERE AMAZING AND RESPECTED THAT CRITICAL MOMENT BEFORE THE JUMP.”
— PARIS PALMER
AND HOW HAS THIS COMPARED WITH OTHER PROJECTS YOU’VE PRODUCED?
“It was such an amazing experience! We made the crazy decision to wild camp but for us it really lifted moral in the evenings when we had had a long shoot day, even if it took me 2 hours to set up my tent…
The team were amazing, we had built such a trust and respect between crew and Tim & Ewa which is the most important part of creating a film like this.
It was a huge challenge for me as a producer to ensure we created a great film safely, on budget and achieve the narrative we wanted but I feel like we did this”.
IT MUST HAVE TAKEN A LOT OF PLANNING TO COORDINATE THE JUMPS, HOW DID YOU APPROACH THIS FOR FILMING?
“Shooting BASE jumping is a lot like shooting stunts for Hollywood movies, there is quite often only one attempt at it and it can be incredibly dangerous. First and foremost safety is the priority, both for the BASE jumpers but also the camera crew, whether we’re shooting on the cliff top using ropes or hiking alone to get to the camera location, planning for every eventuality is key. The next step is to choose crew that are comfortable working independently of direction, it isn’t always possible to recce each camera location for the jumps so having fit, able and quick-thinking camera crew is key.
Once an in-depth safety conversation has taken place, then its time to work out how to physically shoot the jump. Tim and I work well together, Tim understands how a production works and I understand enough about BASE jumping to know what is achievable, together using a mixture of maps and being on location to work out the best angles to cover the jump”.
IS THIS YOUR NORMAL APPROACH TO FILMING ADVENTURE CONTENT?
“Every shoot is different, and requires a different approach. Shooting BASE jumping is totally unique, on most “normal” shoots either with actors or even in documentary scenarios, there is a certain amount of leeway to re-shoot parts, with BASE jumping you have one shot and, if you mess it up, you don’t get another go.
Another thing that makes BASE shoots unlike any other is that you have to remember that a human being is about to jump off something very large, I’ve heard horror stories of Directors or Camera people putting pressure on the jumper to jump in bad weather conditions or to push their limits.
Safety comes before anything when making adventure films and it is doubled when working with BASE Jumpers”.
“…WITH BASE JUMPING YOU HAVE ONE SHOT, AND IF YOU MESS IT UP, YOU DON’T GET ANOTHER GO.”
— GEORGE MORRIS
WHAT WERE THE DANGERS INVOLVED IN FILMING THIS PROJECT?
“On this shoot it was working at height and in remote areas. Understanding and using rope work and being used to working in the Mountains were key on this shoot. Remember it’s not only climbing or hiking but it’s shooting a documentary at the same time.
Being able to split your thinking between constructing a story, physically shooting it and keeping yourself safe is a hard task!”
WERE ANY OF THE CREW SCARED OF HEIGHTS?
“I was…when we were filming we split the crew into two. George and Ed would primarily head to the top with Tim and Ewa. Then myself and Chris would stay at the drop zone for the landing – of course for me and Chris we had to have that chat with Tim and Ewa that if something did go wrong with the jump would they be happy for us to continue filming, we are shooting a documentary about the reality of base jumping and this is a key factor that jumpers face day to day. They respected our mission with the film and were happy for us to film whatever happened throughout the trip which was amazing! But this was because of the trust we had built with them over time”.
DID THE PROJECT ALLOW YOU TO EXPERIMENT WITH FILMING COMPARED TO OTHER PROJECTS?
“It was a great opportunity to be more creative, I’m used to working in remote environments but often with limited crew and kit. Having the chance to work with a larger, fully-equipped crew meant we could really flesh out some very ambitious ideas. Shooting a base jump from the top of an Icelandic mountain proved to be not only an amazing experience but also a creative and logistical challenge. You might be lugging your camera kit alone up to a jump spot, shoot, and then need to navigate back to camp in challenging weather conditions across remote territory, all while creating dynamic and interesting content for the film. Iceland has some incredible scenery…but its weather is very good at being highly unpredictable”.
“ICELAND HAS SOME INCREDIBLE SCENERY…BUT IT’S WEATHER IS VERY GOOD AT BEING HIGHLY UNPREDICTABLE.”
— CHRIS BEARD
THE SCENERY ALLOWED FOR SOME AMAZING VIEWS BUT WAS IT HARD TO CAPTURE THE SIZE OF THEIR JUMPS WITH THE DRONE?
“I think one of my favourite shots is the wingsuit exit. We did this pretty wild trek up to the top with all our kit. I had the drone an Inspire 2 strapped to my back & George was carting his fs7 up this beast of a mountain.
We reach the exit point & there’s this shot that literally gives you the vertigo feeling as we peer over the edge before they jump. Those kinds of shots are crucial.
Secondly the black beach scenes in which we follow from the moment they jump through to chutes opening & gliding along before landing on the beach. A total scene. We shot a mixture of GVs but also made sure we got shots following Tims & Ewa’s jeep to show the size of epic landscape that Iceland offers. Exploring the glaciers. Driving down a country track & suddenly you’d go this giant mountain at the end. Scale doesn’t always translate well on the camera without something to compare too. That’s what builds the parallax – the 3d effect. Directors often think you can just chase a car round all the way around a race track etc but it’s about chatting to the team, anticipating the moves and working out where the best shots are”.
WERE THERE ANY ISSUES THAT CAUSED DIFFICULTY WITH THE DRONE?
“I like a challenge. Be it getting permissions to fly our drone on a busy runway or flying in some pretty remote & off the beaten track places like snowy minefields on the mountains in Iraq & sandy desserts. Our biggest challenge was actually battery management. We were all wild camping & only had limited charging in the car. We had radios to keep in communication so could launch the drone at the right time rather than burning batteries. It’s a little bit like shooting a roll of 120 film. You have 10-12 shots on a film & you make them count. Some of the weather was quite challenging to fly in – Iceland is known for it’s high winds & rain storms. I had to keep the batteries warm. We had one small mishap where the drone flipped on take off. Luckily it landed on the grass and was all fine”.
“WE REACH THE EXIT POINT & THERE’S THIS SHOT THAT LITERALLY GIVES YOU THE VERTIGO FEELING AS WE PEER OVER THE EDGE BEFORE THEY JUMP. THOSE KINDS OF SHOTS ARE CRUCIAL.”
— ED STONE
THE FILM TAKES AN EXTREME INTEREST, WHICH IS FULL OF PRECONCEPTIONS, AND DELIVERS A STORY THAT IS UNEXPECTED, ENTERTAINING AND RELATABLE TO ANYONE WHETHER THEY’RE A PASSIONATE BASE JUMPER OR MAINSTREAM VIEWER, WAS THIS YOUR AIM AT THE START OR A PRODUCT OF AFTER THOUGHT?
“We were both on the same page very early on with this project, we both wanted to make a film that showed the side of BASE jumping most people don’t get to see. As you say there are a lot of preconceptions with BASE jumping, people think that BASE jumpers put on a skydive parachute’s and just run off a cliff, in reality there is a huge amount more consideration, training and experience that goes into every jump”.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH HOW THE PROJECT CAME OUT?
“Very happy, amazing experience to work with a super professional team with a vision.”
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY FUTURE PROJECTS TOGETHER?
“I hope so! We have a few ideas we are working through at the moment!”
“Yes, but I’m afraid I cant talk about it…”