Werk: Verizon FiOS: "Speed Flight"

Recently I had the opportunity to work together with my friends Dave Barlia and Barry Holubeck alongside director Rob Cohen on a film project for Verizon.

For the launch of their new Fiberoptic Internet Service (FiOS), which is revolutionary in terms of speed performance, Verizon chose to use a flying wingsuit pilot as a metaphor for speed. That pilot was alternatively Matt, Dave, or Barry, depending on which shot exactly you are seeing in the commercial.

Filming this was a shitload of fun. We spent a ridiculous amount of time in helicopters flying all around the central Swiss Alps, landing on some of the most beautiful exit points that I know of. The director and production crew were intent on keeping things as "real" as possible, and the end result is a largely pure representation of a wingsuit BASE jump and flight, right up until the point that the pilotĀ  flies into a suburban houseĀ (It's Dave, in that shot) - and even that wasn't entirely "fake", as Dave actually did have to hang suspended from a crane for a few days in New Jersey while they filmed him accelerating at the front of the house, over and over again.

Rob, director of "The Fast and the Furious", "Mummy", "XXX", and other things Hollywood, seemed excited to be tramping around in the high alpine environment with us, standing on the edges of big cliffs and buzzing glaciers in the heli. He asked Barry to zoom in with his helmet cam while shooting us air-to-air, which was challenging and counter-intuitive (typically air-to-air camerawork is done with wide angle lenses, not zooms), but Barry adapted instantly and nailed some great shots. What is incredibly ironic is how real the images are, and how likely they are to be discounted as "green screen" studio work - every shot until the last is in-camera, one of the three of us really flying through the mountains. The images are shot so well that the uninformed may literally not believe they are authentic. Because of this, the "Making of" (embedded here, below the commercial) is not only an interesting look at how the images were captured, but also a crucial testament to the effort that everyone put into this project while out in the mountains.

Special thanks to Dave, Barry, Rob Cohen, Kevin Ward, Zurcher Industries, and all of the MacGuffin crew for being completely awesome... And to Verizon, I guess now I can finally pay that damn cellphone bill which has been in collections for almost 10 years.

Scroll down for a few photos, below the video.

The commercial:

The making Of:

A screen-grab from the commercial: Me, looking back at Barry, wondering if he got the shot. He did ;-) The full face helmet hides my giant grin. (Image: Barry Holubeck)

Chilling on the Mushroom (Eiger North Face), waiting for the clouds. Photo by Barry Holubeck

Buzzing trees. Photo by Neil Kelly

Standing on the edge, at Fisistock.

Cruising in the heli with Rob.