I got a call from Liam Maguire at Good Relations. We've collaborated on several films in the past, including the Invictus launch film and The Royal Caribbean's biggest ship in the world launch film and tends to get me involved in the epic fast, furious & fun stuff. :)
"We need to set a world record for our client Doritos" Liam explained " it involves creating the longest string pull in the world with a giant nacho, a helicopter, a hot cheese mountain, and setting it somewhere off the cliffs of a canyon...you in?!"
“Am I in”???…."I've just had triplets...of course I'm in"...
As a director on a shoot with a one time, maybe twice stunt, the pressure was on. The film and content were key to making this event work and travel smoothly. We also had very different delivery outputs. The client wanted one very cinematic 60-second film but also footage that news and social media would react to, so ultimately, different crews were capturing the same content in very different ways.
On a live stunt like this, I also had to become an event manager and choreograph the moving parts to ensure we got the shots we needed to tell the story.
Maguire said, "I want it epic, and I want Sam Thompson on his knees at the end, holding an orange burning flare in slow motion while the chopper disappears into the background... into the sun, ideally... and I'm thinking 'Apocalypse Now' meets 'Platoon.'"
I replied, "Show me ze chopper," in a dodgy Arnold Schwarzenegger Austrian accent.
I was given around a month lead time and the task of delivering the shoot, including shooting on Tuesday, 12th, delivering the graded broadcast selects the next day by 4 pm on Wednesday, 15th. The hero action film had to be edited, graded, and sound mixed by 10 pm on Thursday, 16th evening, and the behind-the-scenes footage by Friday, 17th, at 5 pm.
"You Gouda be kidding... I'd have to pull some serious strings to make this work," I exclaimed.
We had a total of 15 cameras on the ground, consisting of Raptors, Alexas, C70's, BlackMagic, Go-Pros, Insta 360's, Osmos, and, of course, the big guns: iPhones :)
Action Dynamo DP Simon Rowling and his camera team, including Kieren Jansch, Stuart White, and Toby Harris, along with camera assistant Conor Young, captured the magic moments.
The drone pilot, Lee Park, who has flown with pilot Will Banks many times before, knew exactly how to capture the shots on my storyboard. We discussed certain shots, referring to my schematic and storyboards for guidance on the types of shots I wanted to achieve. Communicating with the drone operator while he was flying the Inspire 3 drone and ensuring a safe distance while getting the shots I wanted posed a challenge for a few reasons, but we managed to get them. Additionally, we had Jack Coutlard-Little on FPV to capture a few of those dynamic moves that you can only get with an FPV.
We were able to communicate with the helicopter through Aby Hensby, who served as the operations manager and helped on the day to coordinate Will's helicopter movements for the specific shots I needed.
We only had enough cheese for two attempts, so the pressure was on Will Banks, the pilot, to get the Nacho pull right, and on Frank S, the head of the SFX team at Helix, and his team to get the cheese temperature right to ensure the best elasticity. During testing, we hadn't been able to recreate the amount of downwind the helicopter would encounter on the actual day, so we didn't realize that the cold air was cooling the cheese very quickly, making it less likely to stretch. We discovered this on the first attempt, and the pull was only a few meters. We decided that the best plan was to get the chopper in place, hovering above the cheese, and although the downdraft was cooling the cheese, there would be an optimum time when the cheese was HOT and ready to go, and the chopper was positioned and ready to pull.
And action... the chopper gave the perfect speed pull-up, slow and steadily aligned, and the guys got the temperature to 56 degrees, the optimum amount, and up it went... 6ft, 13ft, 26ft, 38ft, 42ft, and SNAP! 49ft... we did it, set a world record at 49ft.
We needed to rig the helicopter with GoPros and small 360 Insta cameras since we weren't allowed to fly inside the cabin. Not having an operator inside posed some limitations on the shots I wanted for the storyboard, but we still achieved great results and managed to capture a few of the pilot shots on a different flight. Fortunately, Ben Holmes from Ultra Reality offered to manage the GoPros and 360 cameras on the day and also brought his Titan to ensure we recorded the record-breaking moment in full 4K 360.
The responsibility for how we recorded the record also became part of my role as we needed to capture evidence for the record organisation We attached a phone with GPS readings inside the Nacho and recorded the screen with a GoPro. GoPros also have built-in GPS, so between the two devices, we would get an accurate height reading. Additionally, we had a GoPro on the altimeter of the helicopter as a backup.
As the helicopter was 3.5 hours late, we had to figure out what we needed to shoot first to ensure we captured the story. We decided to start with the reactions and the ending of the film with the flares, just in case we ran out of time, especially since Sam Thompson had a deadline, and we had to get this footage before sunset. Sam was a pleasure to work with—super professional and cooperative. He provided us with interviews and B-Roll for news, and his excitable and enthusiastic nature greatly helped keep the team's energy up on set.
Wait for me. I'll brie back.
The stunt, executed for National Guacamole Day (yes, that’s a thing), was a supersized version of TikTok’s cheese-pulling trend, in which dairy fans lift pizza and other cheesy foods to see how high it can stretch without snapping.
Good Relations PR Agency (part of VCCP)
Liam Maguire - Exec-Producer
ECD - Ben Winter
Senior Creative - Jack Patarou
Senior Creative - Kelly Bugg
Account Director - Olivia yacoub
Director & Producer - Rupert Bryan
DOP - Simon Rowling
Camera Operator -Toby Harris
Camera Operator - Stuart White
Camera Operator - Kieren Jansch
Camera Assistant - Connor Young
Production Assistant - Niamh Jackobson
Production Manager - Franchesca Whiteman
DIT assistant editor - Zach McIver
Behind The Scenes Camera - Southan Herbert
FPV / BTS drone - Jack Coultard-Little
360 Cameras - Ben Loyd Holmes @Ultra Reality
Harry Conliffe - Runner
Sizzle Editor - Ben Clayton
Grader & VFX - Sebastian Ziabka
Sound Mix Drew @Redlight
Special Effects including the big Nacho and Cheese mountain build
Helix 3D SFX - Brian Dowling, Frankie Stapleton and Floyed Thomas
Helicopter Pilot - Will Banks
Task Specialist - Phil Arntz
Ground Co-Ordinator - Abi Hensby
Drone Operators - Lec Park & Ben Kenobi
Fueller - Gary Wise