So here I am, sat on the sofa at home, precisely 6 hours since dropping our latest Danny Mac film on to YouTube. Not only that but we have a new website up, with a blog and everything (state of the art eh!)…. So lets try and write something.
Putting together Danny Macaskill: The Ridge video project was a little different from the usual for us. We didn’t have a mainstream media partner, it wasn’t about the ‘latest Danny edit’ as he’s recently dropped the amazing Epicuen with Red Bull. Instead on this occasion, Five Ten had approached us about making another project with them and having been banding around the idea of The Ridge for a while we worked together with them along with ENVE and Santa Cruz Bicycles and pulled the whole project together.
Check it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_IQS3VKjA#t=421
Danny and I had discussed the Cuillin Ridge on Skye a few times in the past and that maybe it could be ridden? I always knew it could make an amazing film given the backdrop but the bottom line was despite being from Skye Danny had never actually been up there and neither had I……
The idea roled on for a few months until we found a free spot in our schedules and after initial conversations with Five Ten we brought on some none competing brands (ENVE Composites and Santa Cruz) to work together with us on a new film and supporting content… So Danny and I headed up the the Ridge for a scout and it was, well lets just say an eye opener!! Think of the worst weather you’ve ever experienced up a hill and then make it worse, I’d say it was half scouting, half survival!!
We hooked up with Matt Barratt from Skye Adventure who showed us around what we could see with the mist (not a lot!!). It was the most brutal day I’ve ever had on the hill and without Matt we almost certainly would’ve plummeted to our death at some point.
From that scouting trip 3 definite conclusions were drawn:
1 – Bits of it were ridable (for Danny) – Awesome!
2 – It was going to be physically the toughest film we’d ever made, locations were spread out, the only way to access was a 2-4 hour hike each time to get there, and then the same to get back out – Hmm getting more difficult!
3 – We would need plenty of time to ensure we got some clear weather – Ah as usual save the toughest ask until last!
We’re optimists at Cut Media so the dates were set….crew booked, survival kit ordered and off we went up to the Misty Isle.
Crew was fairly minimal, Scott and I were on cameras, Lec piloting the drone with myself or Scott on Gymbal. Then we had Matt from Skye Adventure guiding and assisting with climbing/rope access when needed and our two mule’s Smail and Alan (Smail was also chef for the week…a vital role!!). On top of that we had a 2 guys (Chris and Paul) following for our BBC Scotland Doc that we’ve directed and co-produced with IWC Media and their own guide (John).
There is plenty of ‘behind the scenes’ content to come so I won’t go into loads of details of each location, but in a nutshell we had to hike a minimum of 900m most days to get up to the Ridge and generally 2-4 hours hiking (plus the same in return so 4-8hrs slogging each day – oh joy!). This is where the team really pulled together helped by a portable boom box, various action movies quotes (Predator was the main theme) and a mix of some pretty dodgy songs #wreckingball
For the camera lovers amongst you we had a compromise of quality vs weight given the hiking, keep in mind that on top of kit we had to take all our food and water etc for the day as there’s nae water on the Ridge!!
Our kit list consisted of:
1 x C300 Camera
2 x Panasonic GH4 (One for the Movi, one for the drone)
1 x Movi M5
1 x Manfrotto Tripod
1 x Hague Mini jib (we didn’t take this every day!)
1 x Canon Prime lens selection
1 x DJI S1000 Drone plus controllers/monitors
8 x spare batteries for the drone (heavy!)
1 x GoPro kit
Plus all the usual spare batteries, mic kit etc for the camera.
Danny would just laugh at this, but these days making a film with him does come with a certain pressure. I guess there is a lot to live up to given our previous films together and also his amazing work with Dave Sowerby. That said Danny is awesome to work with, without exception I have never worked with a rider who cares so much about his films, he will literally not stop until we are happy with the shot and he has produced riding he is happy with.
Any kids out there wanting a pro career keep that in mind…. to many of you start to moan on the 3rd take of the same line/shot/trick!!
Skye really delivered with the weather, I’m not sure exactly what we did to deserve it but the first week of the shoot was clear and mostly sunny, which is pretty rare for Skye…..We maximised it on some days to get the best weather by heading up super early, it was also worthwhile as the Ridge can actually be pretty busy with climbers in June (when we were shooting it). The day on the Inaccessible Pinnacle (THAT shot in the middle of the film) we left at 4am to be there for 7am. That scene of Danny is about 7.30am. Never in my life have I seen a crew of blokes so ecstatic to be awake at 7.30am…….that day was super special.
Each and every one of the crew put in a huge effort to deliver this film and I can’t thank them enough, it was waaay over and above. Just to give you an idea, the first day of filming we left the vans to hike at 7am and got back at 1am……long Scottish summer days are a blessing and a curse for filming :-). Danny of course went full on at it as always, hiking that bike up to the ridge relentlessly every day was no-mean feat, and then to deliver his usual riding was something else.
I am definitely proud of films I’ve worked on in the past, and there are definitely a lot of youtube views between Danny, Dougie Lampkin and the Rudimental vid last year, but it all adds to how much I was sh**ting myself this morning. This film is different, its a mountain bike, there’s less tricks, and without a Channel 4/RedBull/whoever behind the production we certainly had less PR investment to drive the film launch… That said, by creating the right supporting content with ‘making of’ films, TV Doc (next week!) and instagram images/video etc it can still reach all the right people who will get to see Skye and Danny in all their glory! It’s been quite a personal project to us the whole way through and our aim was to show off Scotland how we see it, combined with once again showing Danny’s mad skills on a bike. I hope we did it, but either way there was an amazing crew of people behind it and we’re definitely proud of what we achieved.
Stay tuned for more BTS content coming soon online and if you’re lucky enough to live in Scotland then next Fri night on BBC 1 you’re in for a treat! Massive thank you to Five Ten, ENVE, Santa Cruz, Visit Scotland and all the others who have helped make this happen!