Here’s some background info on how we created our latest film for Red Bull UK; Dougie Lampkin’s Tundra Trial. All images (well all the good ones anyway) by Rutger Pauw/Red Bull UK
So the best way to start this blog is to first let you know that I am a motorbike trials super fan…. Long before Cut Media, before mountain biking and waaay before Danny Macaskill films I was at 8 year old who would fly about on a little motorbike trials bike (TY80 for the petrol heads) attempting to be the next Jordi Tarres (shows my age a bit). Trials really is a minority sport and gets very little attention, the guys at the top level are phenomenally talented but there is very little in the way of high production value films out there the way there is with the likes of mountain bikes, bmx, motocross,skating etc… So with that in mind making a great short film based around a motorbike trials bike is something I’ve always wanted to do.
Our Tundra Trial film created with Dougie Lampkin for Red Bull UK
Enter the main man himself Dougie Lampkin. Multiple indoor and outdoor World Champion, an absolute legend of the sport and an all time hero of mine. Through the support from the good people at Red Bull UK Dougie had come up with an idea to make a new film for them and approached Cut Media to help make it happen. Lets just say we didn’t need to think about it for long…
Do you like dags??
Dougie had been trying to ride on Ice (Sheffield Ice rink) and from there we were looking at the possibility of riding and filming in an ice hotel in Finland. So literally within 24 hours of getting the call I was sitting on a flight to go and scout the location.
Our biggest pressure initially was time. It was the end of February and the hotel was beginning to melt at the end of the winter… If the project was to be achieved in 2014 it was going to have to be a quick turnaround on pre-production to get everything organised for a shoot. Filming in the Arctic Circle with a bike on ice was something we’d looked at a while back so we already had a strong idea of how the film could look and feel. What was unclear though was the logistics side in terms of what was possible to build and ride and if it was possible given the time of year.
From the very beginning it became clear that riding a trials bike on ice was not something that was as simple as just popping on some studded tyres (not that anyone makes them!) and away you go. Whilst I headed to Finland Dougie was playing around with different options on the tyres back home, he was using studs (of varying lengths), paddles for the snow and trying different setups to see how the bike would handle. He visited the ice rink in Sheffield and then braved some seriously bad conditions in Glencoe to try and experiment.
Dougie and Martin unloading the bike..
The hotel is definitely something to behold, situated just outside Kittilla in Northern Finland the guys at Snow Village are incredible at what they do and, along with Dougie’s dad Martin, became the backbone to the whole project. Scouting the location was definitely interesting, I ride a trials bike now and again so have a good grasp of what is possible but on ice and snow it was difficult to pinpoint what Dougie could actually do. Needless to say the place was stunning but the hotel itself was a little restricted in size and height to create the full film there so it would have to be a combination of indoor/outdoor riding (or should I say in igloo/out of igloo!!). After a good look around I then scribbled down a storyboard on the flight home, got back and put my head together with Scott and figured out a plan for filming.
Fast forward a few weeks and we were there ready to film. A small crew of what is becoming usual for us… Myself and the genius that is Scott Marshall on camera (and also drone gimbal) with Lec on drone flying plus runner/gaffer/grip duties as well. We also had Ben and Chris from Red Bull on hand to help out. On top of that Martin (Doug’s dad) was Head Set Constructor. It’s difficult to even begin to explain how important Martin was to this project, we’d planned out the locations (which were quite well spread out) with Dougie but then Martin took it on to build the sections (obstacles) with Rami and his team from the Snow Village at each location and get them ready for us to shoot. Our schedule was basically 5 days, 2 to build the set and then 3 to film… It was hectic.
The drone’s first flight in Finland… Not sure Dougie was so excited!
The shoot was one of the most busy I think I’ve been on. Most days we shot from 9am to around 1 am (before setting upovernight time-lapse shots) and its fair to say we pushed Dougie hard in order to get everything we needed shot… The combination of having a solid storyboard, scheduling filming well and having Martin working in the background meant we got everything together in just 3 days.
For the camera lovers here is our kit list:
- 1 x Canon C300
- Canon Prime lens selection
- 1 x Panasonic GH3 for the drone (it was before the release of the 4)
- Movi M10 gimbal
- Canon 5D
- DJI S1000
- Sony FS700 as 2nd cam
- 4m Hague Jib
- Konova Slider
- For post production the film was cut in Premiere and graded in Da Vinci.
Before anyone comments, as it was shot early in 2014 the A7S wasn’t available yet however it would have been ideal for the low light shooting if it had!
A tracking dolly Lapland style…
Riding and filming on the ice was a huge challenge. Dougie could maybe ride at about 30% of what he could in normal conditions and as much as the studded tyres did help they also created a problem. Everytime Dougie accelerated to ride up something the tyres cut grooves in the ice which reduced the grip for next time. Therefore on some of the hardest lines (the ice blocks outside) Dougie only got a few attempts at it before there was literally no grip at all. This was a little restrictive for us in terms of it only allowed us to get the ‘master’ wide shot and limited on takes/alternative angles/tight shots… He makes it all look so easy though, to the point that when I had a ride on his bike during the shoot I couldn’t believe how hard it was compared to normal riding, I was all over the place just riding on the flat!
The music for the film actually came via a Spotify playlist Danny (Macaskill) shared with me a while back. I absolutely adore the track (Arctic House by The Lowlakes) and for me it perfectly suited the environment and the riding. One of the main objectives of the film was to portray trials the way I think it can be, a trials bike can take you places nothing else can and its less about the speed and adrenaline (like other motorsports are generally portrayed) but more about the control and skills… Thats the way I see it anyway…
Lec, Me (Stu) and Scott checking over some of the aerial shots
Talking of control, or lack of it, one of the things that made this shoot so fun was undoubtedly the snow mobiles. Every moment of downtime or for any possible excuse a snow mobile was used. Lots of fun was had but biggest props should go to Lec who is the first person I know to have a snow-mobiling speeding ticket… Fair play Alexis!
Huge thanks to Dougie for all his efforts during the shoot and for bringing us onboard with the film. Thanks also to Martin Lampkin, all the crew at the Snow Village for a crazy amount of hard work, to Chris, Ben and all the Red Bull UK team, Jake Miller at G2F Media and to Rutger Pauw for the amazing photography he captured on the shoot.
For more information on Dougie, the film plus some amazing photography go to – www.redbull.com/tundratrial
Hope you enjoy the film…