The entire 30 minute film was shot on three international flights that involved all three of the Virgin group airlines – Virgin America, Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic. Flying between Sydney, Los Angeles, London and Dallas it claims to be the first commercial movie shot at 35,000 feet.
The whole idea of shooting a film on real flights with a crew of 20 using 2 Canon C300 cameras intrigued me.
Some years ago I’d worked as the steadicam operator and 2nd unit next day pharmacy DOP on a US TV movie of the week “Nowhere To Land”, filmed here in Australia. Most of that film takes place on board a flight between Sydney and Los Angeles too, but we worked for four weeks in a specially constructed studio set, a replica of the interior of a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet.
It had to be constructed with slightly wider aisles and “portable” seat rows that gave us the necessary space to set up our 35mm Moviecam Compact cameras and fly the Steadicam up and down the aisles.
A big factor in making the shooting of “Departure Date” possible was undoubtably the use of the Canon EOS C300 Digital Cinema cameras. Their ease of use, compact form factor and the ability to record a broadcast standard 4.2.2 50mbs codec to an on board CF card made them the obvious choice for this inflight production. The other big factor of course is the camera’s low light sensitivity and its excellent dynamic range, making it possible to light the set ups with a few compact low wattage LED flat panels.
Take a look at the trailer and behind the scenes video.
It’s characteristic of Richard Branson that his Virgin Airlines group would take this innovative approach to promoting his airlines with an entertaining “feel good” film. Who knows next time you fly maybe you’ll meet your soulmate too, it might even be a movie star – so long as you fly Virgin that is.
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