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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

White Water Shoot For Ride To Live Crash

In July I traveled to Idaho to shoot some motorcycle road racing sequences and a White Water crash sequence for my Ride To Live film. The White Water sequence I shot in a town called Riggins Idaho on the Salmon River. Riggins is a gateway town for River Rafting and the occasional jet boat race. The scene called for Cole Beacham "The Main Character" to narrowly miss an oncoming car on his Ninja 1000. The car is passing on a blind curve and Cole has no choice but to crash into the river. So we set up the shot at a section of rapids called Time Zone. It is named as such because it is right on the line between Pacific and Mountain Time. I had painted up my wetsuit to look like my actual riding leathers. I used the wetsuit for two reasons. One the water is freezing, it's all snow melt. Two the leather road racing suit would sink me to the bottom of the river fast or at least wear me out faster. I also wore a life jacket with a larger T-Shirt to fit over it. The shirt of course matched the wardrobe from the riding gear. Let the fun begin. I entered the river in the slow moving water about 200 yards above the Time Zone Rapid. This allowed me time to get into the bubble line to set up for the current taking me into the rapids. The calmer section had a huge eddy that, because I had to use it, helped carry me back up stream a little bit then out into the bubble line. The line then took me through a few boils and several whirlpools with changing locations. The boil is where water
that is pulled down from the surface and then rises back up again. Even with the wetsuit and life jacket I could still feel the downward suck pulling on me as I went through this section. A little eary but cool. The whirlpools I just tried to miss by moving slightly left or right while staying in the current. Since there location changed it was sometimes difficult. During the seven takes for this shot sequence I did get caught in the whirlpools twice. Both times I just let it take me, just like an eddy and as it brought me back around to the center of the river I swam with it and was able to easily break free. From there I lined up for the White Water. There was a huge hydraulic on the left side of the entrance that if sucked into would have been ugly. For safety I had a team member about 100 feet up the bank confirm my line up with body signals once I felt I was in the right place. Remember when you are in the water you can only see so far. It's not like you are standing up and can see a ways. Once I entered the rapids the fun began. The water was running at a class 4 to class 3 rating and the trip through was a blast. Now let me disclaimer this. I was born a water man. I have had experience in all types of water situations. From lakes, streams, caves, oceans, water sports etc... I was not going through this stunt as a hack stuntman/filmmaker. I had a wetsuit for body temp protection and buoyancy as well as a life jacket for buoyancy, and a safety crew. That being said it was so much fun that I looked forward to each take. During one take I used a homemade water proof container to protect my camera and did a handheld through the rapids. There was no leakage and the POV "Point Of View" footage was incredible. I have some great Point Of View shots of the White Water breaking over the top of the camera. As well as the water breaking over the top of my head. It’s very cool. I always have respect for the water and I felt very confident today. The only time I felt a risk for the day was on the seventh take. Since I had been exposing my body to such a strenuous exertion in freezing water, even after long breaks in between takes and a solid lunch I felt my muscles start to cramp. It was a situation where If I had been close to shore I would have pulled out of the run and waited a while. This was not the case since I was at least 40 yards off shore and would have to fight an eddy to get back. So I lined up for the White Water entrance and went through with no troubles. After about 30 more seconds my body relaxed and enough adrenaline was pumping to offset the potential cramps. All in all it was an incredible day. I have great footage for my independent film, "Ride To Live", and it was very exciting and challenging.


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