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Film/movie Flying

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So I've been flying down in Haiti for just over 6 months now, and a lot of my flights seem to involve News crews or documentary filming, things like that. I've never done this type of work before but I'm finding I really like it. it's very challenging, - max gross, very high OAT, High DA, spend all day inside the curve, usually with a tailwind over very developed/ congested city areas. Stressful. but working the machine so the camera man can "get the shot" is a lot of fun and really keeps me on my toes. I get to work with really interesting people from all over the world. CNN, NBC, etc... just finished a flight with Ross Kemp from the BBC.


are there companies in western Canada that do much of this? I'm planning to return home soon and would like to find a place where I could continue this type of work. they all seem to be very pleased so guess I'm getting a feel for it...


thoughts ?

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I got to do a little bit of that in the Global 1 newscopter over Calgary in the spring of 2009. Sounds like you're faced with a lot more challenges than I was, though!


I was second-in-command, but I was in the right seat, so I got to do pretty much all of the flying.


We were always 500 to 1000 feet off the ground and out of the way of CYYC traffic, but we did have to keep an eye out for the competition's R22 that was usually circling the same traffic snarl that we were. The DA wasn't that bad (not as hot or humid as your environment) but we did lift off with full tanks, three people, the big gimballed camera on the nose and all the news/radio gear so we were pretty heavy.


The nice part was that we were pretty much always on the safe side of the curve. When we did the live shots we would slow right down to just over translational, but always at a decent altitude faced into the wind, etc. The Global 'talent' in the back were always very cool and respectful to safe flying - we never felt pressured to bust boundaries or expose ourselves to excess risk in order to 'get the shot'.


This was some of the first flying I did after I finished school. I learned a *lot*! Like communicating on two busy radio channels (CYYC terminal and the other traffic heli) while also talking with my PIC and the Global people. I got to practice decision making (i.e. playing the "where-would-I-go-if-the-engine-quits" drill over the city). I got some insight into the world of electronic news gathering. At the hangar the R44 lived on a dolly that we towed with a quad, which made it easy to move in and out of the hangar - takeoffs and landings on this were great practice for this low-timer!


My parents thought it was really cool that they could watch the live heli shots on Global News Calgary and know it was me flying :D


There are a couple companies in Canada that do some film/tv flying; I can't recall their names offhand but I've found them on a web search. At least one is out in the lower mainland area.


Happy flying!


- Darren

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I got to practice decision making (i.e. playing the "where-would-I-go-if-the-engine-quits" drill over the city).



I play that game all day here, although, because of the terrain and buildings here, it's more of "where do I want to die when the engine quits"


really no where to auto to over most of PaP at the altitudes i'm at while filming, unless you can put it down a roof top, or hope to have one of the few open roads within reach.




thanks for the tips guys, I'll have a poke around. News Chopper work isn't really my thing, as it requires life in a large metro center. I turn into a raging dickhead very quickly when I'm forced to live in such places for more then a few days. ;)



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News Chopper work isn't really my thing, as it requires life in a large metro center. I turn into a raging dickhead very quickly when I'm forced to live in such places for more then a few days. ;)


I dig where you're coming from. Two saving graces for me was that 1) I drove the opposite way of rush hour traffic on the way to and from CYBW, and 2) I saw the rush hour madness from 500 feet up :P


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It's great fun but also very dangerous. All that max weight, hovering #### can get you spinning in no time if you're not careful. I hope you've got enough stick time to realize that even though the camera people are paying the bills, they are not flying the a/c. There have been many incidents in which maneuvering for a better shot has had a ****** outcome.


If you want to work that hollywood stuff, you should go to hollywood. They even have training programs to 'learn' how to fly movies. Don't forget to sign up for the screen actors guild or whatever the deal is now so you too can get your mothaf@@#ing movie cheque. $$$$

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In Vancouver you will find companies like Talon and Blackcomb doing this work.


The amount of work is very dependent on what movies are currently shooting, and the size of their budget.

A high CDN dollar really hurts the Canadian industry.

To get a job doing this you will probably have to do some TV news work, and live in (or very close) to a major city to supplement the rest of your income with other flying work.


The movie industry is very cliquey. There are some pilots that they love and trust. Some movie companies will bring in one of the famous pilots from the USA to do their work.


Movie work involves a lot of sitting around, then being asked to do some stoopid flying that you have to politely decline, and delicately suggest another way to get the shot......without damaging some huge Hollywood-sized egos.

Geoff P. had a great personality to deal with all these characters, and could "get the shot" as well.


If you manage to pess-off the wrong person, you will be black-listed and that is the end of your movie days.


Some pilots love the work, and some hate it. Despite all of the above, I am one of the former.

Good luck in your search.

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thanks for the continuing advice. you're right about politely declining. most of the American news crews want to bend the laws of physics, a lot of wasted time explaining why I can't/won't fly like that. the Brits all seem to be very experienced and professional. a joy to work with.


Had a crew out this morning filming for PBS Frontlines. great flight, lots of low level runs over the port district and Cité Soleil. constantly watching for wires and muzzle flashes. exciting. especially when truck horns sound exactly like the Low RPM horn....



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