UNCHAINed - working for Nikon


Hello folks!

It was in 2014 when I had the honor to work shoulder on shoulder with world star athlete Jason Paul and Red Bull photographer Ray Demski to create some great action imagery and put the brand new Nikon D750 into use. Great athletes, graphic locations, a master behind the lense. Let me tell you about the experience.

Back then I was not too experienced in working professionally in front of the camera. I was a little bit nervous working with someone like Jason and for such a big client - even though I was super thankful for the opportunity it definitely put some pressure on me… But when a client like Nikon is coming up with a project involving Parkour and Freerunning you don’t hesitate, you TAKE it!

Since the production company had never worked with Freerunners before they needed my advice in the whole pre-production-process - haha, I can still remember how agitated I was when they invited me to join the Skype meeting with Ray for talking about locations and opportunities: I wanted to give the best impression possible but had no idea how it would go. In the end there was no need to stress myself out - those meetings are just about finding a common ground, sharing knowledge from different fields and being able to adjust the course of the project. So all I had to do was telling them how the project looked through my eyes. Huh, easier than I thought! Pressure: Gone.

After the last preparations the shooting finally began. Unfortunately it was super cold and even raining on the first day. This meant we were a little bit limited in our possible movement repertoire - the last thing you want to happen on set is getting injuried. You would risk the whole project and since per commercial shooting day clients pay between 90.000-120.000 € risking the whole project is the last thing you want to do. One of the most important abilities you’ve got to have as a professional athlete is to deliver what the client wants to see while not putting your health into danger.

This is even more important when you have to get up at 04:30 am, because the team wants to catch the sunrise, which creates a very special lighting situation called the „blue hour“. Getting up early is usually no problemo - what I was not aware of by then was that we would go for the sunset (golden hour) as well. A 14 hour action shoot was definitely challenging for me. Even though there are breaks in between, after 30 times being warm and cold over and over again your body just craves for rest. Shooting in front of the lense is very different from a normal training session, since you have to adapt your moving sequences to the time management of the whole filmcrew - rebuilding light settings, switching locations, changing lenses and batteries… All this takes a lot of time and you have to be ready to shoot every minute.

Especially working with Jason on Set for 2 days taught me a lot about what working as professional athlete means. Since the project was both, photo and video shooting, most of the time Jason and I were shooting simultaneously - no time wasted. But whenever I had spare time to breathe through I soaked up Jasons work methods like a sponge. The key lesson I learned on that project was: the biggest move does not create the best picture. I am definitely going to write another blog post on this, so stay tuned! 

I hope I was able to transfer a little bit of the challenges I had to conquer and lessons I have learned during the Nikon shooting and you might have more of a feeling what it means to work as a professional Freerunning athlete in the commercial world.

Following you find the final product video and the behind the scenes clip. Enjoy!