- Stefan Morrocco @morroccomedia
Filming in the Scottish Wilderness - in Winter!
Morrocco Media are specialists in filming in remote and challenging mountain environments. Stefan is an upland geomorphologist by training, so has been working in the Scottish Highlands all his professional life, so replacing scientific instruments for camera equipment is not a massive shift. Stefan has been filming in the Scottish Highlands for 18 years as well, so has considerable experience in these environments. If you want to know about the landscapes in which we are filming, then Stefan will be able to tell you all about them.
This winter we are filming a backcountry ski film in the Highlands, and it has really highlighted the skills required to do this type of filming. We've had beautifully clear days, but bitterly cold with a piercing wind, and complete whiteout conditions with a howling gale, where we entrenched ourselves in a hollow at the top of Glas Maol hoping the skies would clear - they didn't!
Fitness is one of the most important aspects to being able to film successfully in remote and challenging mountain environments. If you are not fit, you will struggle to get places fast and have the strength to carry large amounts of heavy camera equipment. Getting places fast is crucial to maximise time to get lots of quality footage. It is possible to use lightweight mirrorless cameras, but they do not produce the same quality of shots as the likes of the Sony FS7ii can produce, and we always value quality first. In order to do that, we make the sacrifice of getting ourselves fit enough to carry heavy loads of camera equipment all day across the mountains of Scotland. Exercise forms part of our daily work routine, which predominantly involves strength and conditioning in the morning and some cardio work in the afternoon (when I'm not ill as I am just now). I used to be able to run 35-minute 10ks, so my aim is to get as close to that speed and fitness again this year.
Navigation is key to working in the Scottish Highlands, because the weather and visibility can change incredibly quickly and having the confidence to get yourself safely to and from filming sites and back off the mountain at the end of the day is essential for safety. We're fully skilled in navigating in challenging environments. With Stefan's geomorphological knowledge, he also has a great understanding of terrain features which can help with navigation.
Having great winter skills is so important. Knowing how to navigate in whiteout conditions, including pacing, timing, orientation and compass and map use. Being comfortable with crampons and ice axe use could be the difference between life and death, especially when carrying incredibly heavy camera equipment.
Having the right equipment makes life so much easier in these challenging environments. That's why we use DYNAFIT kit because it is light enough not to be a hindrance, but also technically advanced that it still keeps us warm and dry. Their clothing is great, but their ski touring kit is even better for winter access to the mountains.
Finally, having great logistical skills and the patience of a saint are two fundamental skills when working in remote locations. The last thing you want is to forget something, you can't just nip out to the car to find it. You need to plan carefully to make sure you have everything you need. You have to be prepared for the weather conditions to change quickly making filming impossible. You patiently wait it out for it to clear or ultimately give up and head back home to come back another day. without these qualities, filming in remote locations is going to be extremely challenging!
If you want to have a chat about how we can help with filming for you in these environments, drop me an email at email@example.com
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