Its clearly understood that as an aerial cinematographer you have to go the distance to get the shot, but where is the line?
While out filming for the first time on the Salt Flats in Bonneville Utah we had been asked to get glamour shots of the mountains in our down time. Our instructions were simple, go towards the mountains and be back to basecamp in time for the next shoot. Previous to our arrive at the flats it had been flooding so as we ventured out towards the mountains we had to cross a slightly flooded portion. While crossing we maintained our speed and avoided getting stuck and were able to get the glamour shots we were looking for, but it was on our way back we ran into trouble.
As we were approaching the flooded area we began to really slow down, and with the loss of our momentum we came to a complete stop. As we tried to move again we slowly moved forward until we came to a complete stop and found that we had become entirely stuck. We called basecamp with the hope that they would come and tow us out but they were advised by the staff at the flats that it was too risky to take another vehicle out and that it would also get stuck. Our only option was to call in the snow cat.
We were forced to call in the snow cat and they were able to to out the vehicle, but there was one major issue, the $650 charge. As we had only been told to go towards the mountains we assumed that the risk of getting stuck would have been covered by the company. We soon found out this was our first mistake. We were then told that they only said to go to the mountains, but not to cross the flooded portion (it was all flooded for miles) and that it would be required that we pay the charge.
We didn’t argue with them but did learn a valuable lesson, DON’T DO ANYTHING THAT WILL PUT YOU OR YOUR EQUIPMENT AT RISK, or you will pay.
When asked to do something that may potentially put you or your equipment at risk, first analyze the situation and see if there is a safe way to accomplish the task and then suggest to do it that way. If there is no safe way to accomplish the task talk with the client and explain why it can’t be accomplished and do your best to find an alternative solution.