[Interview] Lec Park, Drone Pilot on Danny MacAskill’s The Ridge
BY Alan Perlman5 November 2014
When I watched Danny MacAskill’s latest video, The Ridge, I was blown away with how beautiful the aerial videography was. In the end-credits, it’s mentioned that Lec Park was the drone pilot, so I decided to track him down to ask more about working with Danny and putting those shots together.
You can find Lec on Twitter at @mrleccorp.
1. How long have you been a drone pilot? How’d you get into it?
I’ve operated drones or SUAV’s since May 2011.
I have always been involved in film production since a teenager and was always interested in the ‘next big thing,’ whatever it was at the time. Being involved in MTB’s, GoPro made a quick appearance on the scene, and it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for angles to capture from. Once that had become commonplace, there were a few people on higher-end budgets using cable cams to make their footage stand out. I liked the idea of them, but they did seem to take a long time to set up, so that’s when I started to look at RC helicopters to make the next step.
Having done some research I seemed the only way was to get a large scale single rotor & mount the camera on but thats when we discovered a small german company (Microkopter) who were developing a 6 motor ‘multicopter’ capable of lifting the same payload but in a safer way. We started with a hexacopter system & have had various incarnations and models leading us up to our current S1000 setup.
2. What was it like to work with Danny Macaskill and team?
Danny is great to work with, as he has a good understanding of filming so knows what is possible, but is also always open to suggestions to make it look even better. The team on the Danny shoot are all close friends of mine, and we have worked together on various other projects as well.
It was important to have a strong group, as the location was famed for being extremely challenging and could throw up many unforeseen surprises that, as a production, we would have to deal with.
3. What equipment / gear did you use during filming?
4. How long was the shoot? What was working on the Isle of Skye like?
The shoot was scheduled to be 14 days to allow for bad weather that may hamper filming. Due to the weather being so good, we wrapped 3 days early which was a surprise to everyone on the crew as we only lost 1 day due to bad weather.
5. Any noteworthy stories from filming?
I would say the best story from The Ridge shoot would be the first day when Matt, our mountain guide, saw the drone in action for the first time. He thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen and couldn’t stop saying how great it was. What we had forgotten to tell him was that he would be carrying it with myself to the top each day 🙂
Fast forward 24 hours, and we were struggling up the steepest direct route to the ridge line after a 2 hour ground hike to get to the base of it. The weather had closed in, and it took another couple of hours to battle our way to the summit at which point Matt had assured us it would be clear (it was not), and it looked like it was going to be a wasted day.
I have never seen someone look at a piece of equipment with such hatred when it looked like we had struggled up with it for no reason. To quote him, “I’d quite happily kick that thing off the mountain”.
6. What’s your favorite shot in The Ridge?
My favourite shot is the money shot of Danny holding his bike up on the In Pinn.
That was the key image Stu and Danny had talked about since the beginning of the shoot, but we were convinced we would need to be lucky to get it due to the weather. Nobody could believe our luck when we got to the In Pinn that morning and conditions were better than perfect.
7. What’s next? Where can people find you?
I’m off to Australia next week on another Top Gear shoot, but when I get back my next personal project is in a series called ‘Search for the Steep’ for RedBull being filmed by the Cut Media team.
Any enquires can be made to me at firstname.lastname@example.org