January 2nd, 2018
Bonnie Wee Golf sell golfing tours across Scotland, they create bespoke holidays incorporating luxury accommodation and transport between courses via helicopter. Located in Aberdeen, they are a company offering an exclusive service with a clearly defined target market, so when they approached us with a clear brief for a two-three minute promotional film, we jumped at the opportunity- this enthusiasm was only furthered when we realised we would have two helicopters at our disposal. Marketing predominantly to Americans seeking to optimally explore Scotland’s famous golfing landscape, they needed the video to function as an impactful showcase of both Scotland and the trips on offer. Bonnie Wee Golf scheduled a series of publicity events across the states where the video would be looped on screens, so it was crucial to translate the excitement of the experience through our film.
As exciting a project as this was, it was not without its challenges. Restricted to a budget that only permitted 45 minutes of helicopter fuel, it was crucial for us to establish a tight flight plan with the pilots prior to production and to adhere to it on the day. Professional golfer Laura Murray was participating in a pro-am tournament over the course of three days at three golf courses, so we planned to capture her in action as our point of focus with other Bonnie Wee Golf staff accompanying as actors. Day two of the competition was held at Castle Stewart Golf Course, not far from Inverness airport where the helicopter company PDG Aviation is based. It therefore made logistical and financial sense to shoot on this day as it would incur the least unnecessary fuel consumption for the choppers.
We would capture one helicopter and use the other to film from with an exterior-mounted camera system that we could operate from inside the aircraft. We decided to shoot with the Sony fS5 for its super slow motion capabilities and lightweight body to fit on a gimbal. Although the mounted camera would be housed in a weatherproof glass sphere, any rain would still obstruct its perspective, so weather of course was a factor we needed to consider. Familiar by now, with adapting to temperamental Scottish climes, the team prepared accordingly and this didn’t stop us from story boarding an ambitious shot list for the helicopter sequence. These would include an aerial shot of the helicopter flying beneath the other chopper, a shot trailing behind the featured helicopter and then capturing the landing on the golf course. We would punctuate this footage with shots of take-off and several angled clips of the chopper heading out to sea for visual impact. Creatively we wanted to incorporate key signifiers that would obliquely acknowledge our target market, we asked our actors to wear red and white and blue, for example and shot them smoking cigars to evoke a sense of extravagance.
This all ran according to plan and we finished the helicopter footage by boarding the star helicopter to capture some interior shots of the pilot flying. With only a few minutes of fuel left, we decided to attempt one bonus unplanned shot. This was to capture one of the golfers teeing off, while a chopper flew by in the background, a climactic final shot to embody the thrill we were hoping to convey. You can see this shot in the finished video above or click here to see the stand-alone clip. It was one of our most pressurised but exciting days on location to date, and both the client and the team agree that this excitement is communicated in the finished film.