In the late 80’s I was asked to work as one of the 2nd assistants on a very large budget French commercial for Peugeot. At the time Renault and Peugeot were competing with these James Bond style spots.The location was Spray Lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
Mission completed, a Red Peugeot is parachuting from the sky. A jet fighter appears, destroys the chute and the car drops.
The driver sporting a tuxedo, now speeds along a frozen lake when out of the sky comes a Black Hercules. The plane chases, swoops over him and proceeds to drop bombs. The driver dodges them, proceeds down a narrow road and slides into the parking lot of the Banff Springs Hotel. Inside one of grand rooms awaits a beautiful model, champagne in hand. “You made me wait”Driver “I know, the roads were icy”.
I arrived on the second day of filming and had not yet seen the Hercules in action.
The plane is coming, queue the car. I slate and pull out my still camera. A red dot is approaching but where is the plane? I naturally look up. The red dot gets bigger and I see a much larger black dot right behind it! Can they really fly that low?
The GTI 205 screams by camera left as the Herc shoots over the cameras. Everyone has hit the deck. The sound crew were on a single section of scaffolding. They jumped and decided the sound would be fine at ground level.
Day 2.I have been upgraded!I am to turn on the camera attached to the back loading door which will get a POV of the bombs being released and get some hand held footage in the cockpit.
We depart Calgary International and the mood is very light. It feels like eternity until we drop below the mountain peaks. The pilot calls for focus and we do our first pass. I am bent forward on the back bench and as we turn around all I see through the front windows is gray rock.Strange feeling no being able to see the sky coupled with the fact that I can’t bend back. This must be what they call G Force.
In the rear.The door is about to open.
I turn on the Arri III, the door lowers but most of the bombs are stuck. I think about Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. They are not too happy on the ground.
Back in the cockpit.I try to get the hand held POVs but the force is too strong. This hasn’t been well thought out.
I am not looking forward to going back to set.
Day 3.Back on the ground. Everything is fine. My body has recovered. There are people ice fishing, cars racing and the big black plane. It’s a beautiful day.
The car has a camera attached to the front for its encounter with a snow plow on the narrow road. The Director insists on driving and says he wont hit the plow. We managed to save the film in the mag.
Projected dailies. They look stunning except for my hand held footage.Why did I roll that much?
In the end it was a great experience. The spot won a silver prize at Cannes and can be seen on the net.
Peter Wunstorf, ASC