Baby Steps, 1,000ft in the Air / by Julian Focareta

My career-bucket list is officially growing at twice the rate of it being accomplished, 

Last week I had the pleasure of crossing off one of those line items though. However, it was something that I really didn’t think would happen this early in my life. (anything IS possible) Last week Joe Adams and I were brought 1000 ft up in a R44 Helicopter to shoot a few aerials of Fairfield University’s campus. Now the trip was mainly for stills but we decided to shoot video at the same time. (Thank you Casey Timmeny for making that happen)

When I saw my first Warren Miller film in 2006, I was blown the fuck away by the lifestyle and overall badass-ness of backcountry filming and heli-drop skiing. Ever since then, it’s been my goal to shoot out of a helicopter. Ever since being friends with a strong-bearded man named Dan Dunn, I’ve pretty much have been foaming at the mouth to shoot anything in the backcountry for that matter. The amount of content we have watched to gather from production empires like Brain Farm, Camp4Collective, Sherpa Cinemas and many others has made me want to get up and dangle out of a copter somewhere to film something. (Also- maybe one day drop out of one on a snowboard)

Photo by Joe Adams.

Well last week I found myself not being able to sleep because the next day I was finally flying in a fucking helicopter with a camera. Excitement? Fuck no. I forgot one thing. I’m afraid of heights.

I’m fucking afraid of heights.

I’ve always been mindful of this fear, but have ignored it my entire life. This fear that, yes.. a lot of people have.. was not going to stop me from crossing items of my cinematography bucket list. Come to find out, getting in that helicopter started becoming less desired as a shooting experience but more or less a mental challenge.

However, I wasn’t backing down. I was eager to see what type of person I am. (I can't judge myself on the first third of the flight though.. For the first 20 minutes I was gripping the camera so tight it felt as if it was going to crumble in between my white knuckled Italian hands). Joe (his photos featured above and below) had to ask me multiple times if I was okay throughout the day. From that morning until we were halfway to our destination I am pretty sure I had a horrified look on my face. Do you agree?:

 Photo by  Joe Adams.

Photo by Joe Adams.

But I do have to tell you.. After this it was a plate full of buttery cake though. It was fucking awesome. I did it. I'm not sure if I was high off adrenaline or from getting over that bump of not being able to shoot because I was so fucking nervous about falling to my death.

Now, shooting handheld out of an open door technically wasn't the exact experience I was looking for.. However, I was finally shooting up in the air. It's happened so quick and early in my career that I can't have one complaint about it. Even if I walked away with nothing useable, I would have been fine with the fact that I was able to surpass my fears and take the challenge on hand. Now this has happened so quick, I can't wait to see what the next trip is like. (Currently trying to find the funds to rent a unit with a Shotover system on it- will take donations)

Thank you to all who made this possible, it was such an awesome experience. Check out a few highlights from the day: