I don’t do many GoPro edits – in fact, I’ve only ever done one before and that was to test out my first GoPro in Tignes. With last year’s E3 announcement from DICE I just had to make a GoPro edit involving something I know pretty well… That sport where you jump off roofs and do 360 mute grabs off curbs: Freerunning.
When it comes to personal projects, I’ll always try to do something that’s a little bit challenging. I spend most of the year doing branded content or corporate work and the majority of the time you don’t get to do something a bit more creative.
So. When I do get some spare time I like to experiment, and this project gave that opportunity. With this one I wanted to keep it as close to the game as possible – mimicking the ziplines, helicopters and locations as closely as the budget permitted (£almost.zero and a couple of Nandos meals). The E3 announcement trailer didn’t give too many clues as to what the new game would feature, but I did try to include some of the combat elements.
The biggest challenge with this project was to not have a single ‘cut’ during the full run, as obviously in the game you can’t just skip out certain parts of the map (as boring as they may be). Luckily I live near a fairly hated town called Croydon, which features a few nice, Mirror’s Edge-esque buildings. The buildings we shot the majority of the video around are due for renovation/destruction quite soon so we thought we’d make the most of them. Unfortunately, when it comes to Freerunning features, everything in Croydon is really, really big. Check out Storm Origins for some other meaty jumps in Croydon (and Freerunners on fire). It goes without saying that if you’re new to Freerunning you shouldn’t go to Croydon – you’ll probably get stabbed.
I’ve been involved in the Parkour & Freerunning scene since 2002 and have grown up with some of the most experienced and talented freerunners around. When it comes to throwing down big moves safely, I’m lucky enough to have these guys in my phone book… and Facebook. Now obviously there are many actual editing cuts in the video, and this is because I wanted to use the Freerunners that were best suited to certain scenes.
Ashley Holland, for example, loves climbing buildings while listening to the Spiderman OST on loop, so he was the obvious choice for the climbing scene. Pip, Drew and Phil are all incredibly talented freerunners, so with them it was more of a case of availability. Living in England we’re at a constant battle with the weather, and getting the clear blue sky and dry locations we needed to film was one of the main reasons this took so long to finish – exactly 8 months! Starting the project at the beginning of Winter, and obviously prioritising work prolonged the whole thing as well, but the timing was pretty good in the end.
So after finding the locations on some extremely boring solo recces, I’d just get a Freerunner down for a few hours to talk them through the scene, lotion them up with a few £ for the bigger drops, and shove GoPro’s in their mouths to carry out the action. Despite some of the moves looking quite extreme (especially to non-Freerunners) all of our filming days were fun, easy and safe.
The big roof gap near the end… Yep, it’s real. There’s more footage of it here from when the Storror guys sampled it last year.
In the end everything worked out well – even the more ambitious moves were done on the first and only take. It just goes to show how extremely talented, conditioned and professional these Freerunners are. The only near-fatality we had was on the first day, when Phil landed on Mike’s ankle during the first vault/combat move at the start of the run. Somehow this short scene was probably the hardest and longest to do. Mike is now fine and living a happy and prosperous life.
I have to say a big thank you to Mike Lienard, Dan Morbin, Mark Lunt and Iain Linnane for putting their bodies on the line – dressing in black costumes and venturing into Croydon isn’t the brightest of ideas but I appreciate the risk you guys put yourselves through. Also hello to Yassin² and the Storror chaps for making sure Operation Redhill ended in Victory.
So next up… Assassin’s Creed?