TAKING ADS TO NEW HEIGHTS WITH ROGERS WIRELESS
When you watch a show or a film which displays people facing danger and overcoming nature’s often daunting obstacles you likely find yourself thinking, “It’s amazing that this person can do these things!” and you’d be correct. What you are likely overlooking is the fact that your ability to view these incredible feats necessitates an unsung hero behind the camera who is both placing themselves in the same precarious set of circumstances and simultaneously focusing on capturing this footage for you rather than focusing on their own potential danger. Cinematographer Byron Kopman knows this paradigm all too well as he has placed himself in its midst numerous times. No, he doesn’t have a pathos but rather a need to capture imagery and tell stories that remind himself and all of us how vibrant, exciting, and creative the world can be. As the DP for the Rogers Wireless commercial “Roam Like Home”, Kopman, director Shaunoh, and crew ascended mountains in Chamonix France alongside Michael Horst, a professional mountain guide. The spot featured Horst Facetiming with his family in Squamish BC from the French Alps.
“Roam Like Home” allows viewers to follow along with Michael Horst in his worldly travels atop some of the world’s most dangerous and adventurous mountains. Rogers wanted to exhibit that while most of us don’t share Michael’s steely nerves, he is grounded by a connection with his family just like us…a connection made possible by Rogers Wireless and Facetime. Scenes of Horst at home in Canada mountain climbing with his son are juxtaposed with those of him on treacherous but awe inspiring heights in France. Though the footage seen in “Roam Like Home” makes it appear that both locations are easily viewed through an iPhone, obtaining the breath-taking footage for the actual commercial required bravery, talent, and only the essential gear.
The crew assembled to capture the footage of Horst in the Alps consisted of thirty members but was trimmed down to eight for the more difficult parts of the shoot. Acclaimed cinematographer Byron Kopman and his crew were allowed only the essentials to take to the top of the mountain; basically one helicopter load of lighting and grip gear and a backpack (averaging 60lbs) for each member. The core team of eight had a Red Cinema Camera package (chosen for its robust nature and proclivity for slow motion and handling in snow), a Sony A7S2 (for night time shooting), a Freeflysystems Gimbal, tripod, prime lenses and zoom lenses, filters, batteries and fleet of 7” monitors for client/agency and crew. In addition to the film gear, they travelled with avalanche survival gear and snacks.
Most of the core crew were well versed in mountain travel, which was a necessity for safety and expediency on this project. In order to get between locations on the mountain, two crew members were tethered to one professional mountain guide via climbing rope while wearing ice cramp-ons for better footing. The demands of this job required immense talent and physical ability (at elevations of up to 11,854ft.). Being aware of the ever changing environment (altitude, incline, visibility, and physical terrain) required constant assessment and awareness of one’s surroundings while being aware of the footage being shot. A nearby avalanche occurred during the first three hours of the shoot, tragically claiming lives in a location not that far from this production. In a sobering manner, reminding the crew to be as careful as humanly possible.
Viewing “Roam Like Home” communicates a minute portion of the danger and an overwhelming amount of the majesty. Witnessing the beauty of the world from this elevation is only made possible for the majority of us thanks to the stunning work of cinematographer Byron Kopman. It’s hard to imagine that while framing these remarkable works of nature in the lens, Byron and Camera Operator Paul Watt were likely balanced in a manner that separated him from doom by mere inches. The transfixing visuals presented in his work somehow manage to capture the serenity of this seldom traversed location while only hinting at the peril many have experienced in attempting to see it first-hand. It’s easy to understand why Kopman is so lauded in the industry and why the producers of this commercials were adamant that his signature style and creative perspective be obtained to manifest stunning visuals. The subtext of what the camera displays is congruent to the overall message of “Roam Like Home.” Michael Horst has a life which vacillates between the comfort of home & family with vocational moments of danger tempered by awe. The message that Rogers seems to communicate (via this commercial) is that life is best experienced when we are able to connect the vastly different experiences we treasure. “Roam Like Home” and it’s intercontinental Facetime was so notable that Marketing magazine published an article about the experience. Whether by iPhone or film crew, modern technology and the talented individuals behind these afford all of us an opportunity to see things never before so accessible.