A base jumper has been filmed leaping off Switzerland’s Eiger mountain peak in a new spot for web provider Verizon. The jumper is kitted out in a specialised wing suit that fills with air and enables a degree of flight – the spot shows him zipping down the mountainside and hurtling into a house.
Shooting took place in Switzerland because director Rob Cohen wasn’t happy with the location options available to him in the US. There was also the little matter of this specific kind of ‘flight’ being illegal in America.
Cohen says: “I wanted to present the base jumper’s flight as a distinct journey and this meant starting in a snowy environment, descending to the tree line and then finishing in a city. There isn’t really this kind of location in the US – it’s mostly rocky outcrops.
“Then there’s the legal issue for this kind of flying. I mean, they can’t stop you filming in a kind of guerrilla way, but obviously that’s not ideal.”
Switzerland offered exactly what Cohen was looking for and he was deeply impressed with the skills of the local crew and helicopter pilots that the team worked with. The shoot was serviced by Alpine Films of Wengen.
It’s a very freeing place to be. No windows, no barriers and no restraint at 10,000 feet. The east-west winds are in a constant battle and the push-pull weather system changes conditions very quickly.
Rob Cohen, Director
Opening shots of the jumper taking in the sights from the peak were filmed with a crane to maximise the visual impact of the set up. The crane had to be taken up to the 10,000-foot peak in segments and then rebuilt on a small platform that was constructed the day before and bolted into the rock face.
Cohen comments: “Everything and everyone was airlifted as far up the mountain as possible before having to get out and climb. I was in the full climbing kit myself to get up the last section. We filmed on a part of the Eiger known as The Mushroom, which is a needle of rock with a bulbous head.
“It’s a very freeing place to be. No windows, no barriers and no restraint at 10,000 feet. The east-west winds are in a constant battle and the push-pull weather system changes conditions very quickly. That’s how we ended up getting stranded up there for three hours when the helicopter couldn’t get to us.”
The jumper’s final hurtle into the residential house was shot back in the US in New Jersey. An elaborate rig – used mainly for acrobatics performances by the likes of Cirque Du Soleil – was set up that propelled the jumper horizontally at 40 miles per hour. This catered for the wide shots and then the jumper’s PoV for this sequence was achieved using a combination of green screen and a specialised helicam.
Client: Verizon FiOS Quantum
Executive Producer: Suzanne Crowe
Production Company: MacGuffin Films, California
Production Service Company: Alpine Films, Wengen, Switzerland
Director: Rob Cohen
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