On the 14-16 December Moscow welcomed the very best ice climbers across the lead and speed disciplines in 2018 UIAA Ice Climbing World Combined Championship.
The competition took place within the Luzhniki stadium area, the home of the opening and closing matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
A crew from Quebec (Canada) came to film the last episode of their show “The Unknown Champions 2” for Channel 5 which show their audience the most fascinating world championships from all around the world. Our Producer/fixer Alyona Pimanova spent time with the crew to coordinate the shooting, translate interviews and arrange transportation.
During these 3 days we were following the Canadian athlete who was one of the competitors. We also got to know a Russian champion athlete from Tymen – Nikolay Kuzhovlev who won this competition.
In spite of really chilly whether it is a fascinating sport which demands a huge amount of strength and total focus and the cold didn’t diminish the pleasure of meeting so many great sportspeople and see them compete.
On a Sunday morning (perfect time without traffic and relaxed policemen) we grabbed some beauty shots of Moscow. We were really lucky to get some drone shots of the city and the river. Without a permit it’s not possible but sometimes you get 10-15 minutes before the security guys suddenly appear from nowhere and asks you to stop. Something we don’t advise but if the crew really want to give it a go then they can.
In April a crew from Saudi Arabia came to Moscow to film Youtube videos about their journey building up to the FIFA World Cup in order to give their audience a taste of the city, visiting museums, restaurants and places of interest.
We started preparing months before their arrival. The hosts wanted to drive an old American car in the streets of Moscow so we needed to find such an unusual and very rare type of old car in Russia. We tried different options and after a while the choice was made on a 1989 Ford Crown Victoria that we had painted green and added vinyl graphics in Arabic for the show.
The result was amazing and the car attracted lots of attention on the streets of Moscow and people could not avoid taking pictures of it. It became one of the heroes of the show in its own right.
During the first week of filming we filmed in the museum of surreal art and cosmonaut museum at VDNHa as well as saw a very unusual cat performance in the famous Cat’s theatre and got to see military tanks and jet fighters in Victory park.
We also had some staged scenes and hired a number of extras to play different characters. Alyona, our fixer/producer, played a referee during a football scene when the Arab hosts had a match with Russian footballers. Pavel, our assistant producer and our “baby driver” played a brilliant role of a gangster. All our extras quickly got their nick names among the crew, such as “old babushka” and “an envelope guy” and became a real asset to this production.
We want to thank our very favourite producer from Lebanon, Mohammad, who is always pleasure to work with.
We also recorded a podcast with him about filmmaking and production in Russia and other countries. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-139007163/ep-1-mohammad-saad
The second filming with the same crew from Saudi Arabia and 4 brilliant hosts (Instagram influencers) happened during the World Cup in June where they visited some games and soaked up the atmosphere of Russia during this event.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to get to work on projects that we enjoy watching ourselves and which are our favorite shows that we never miss when they are on TV.
In this case “Air crash investigation” that we have already worked on before as last year we were asked to get access to the Russian investigation committee on a case that happened with the Russian plane. We hit a brick wall quite quickly as this was very recent crash and we could not get any of the Russian officials on board. The investigation was still in process and they could not give any comment until the investigation was complete and the accident report had been published.
This year we got involved in research of two air disasters for different episodes and so made contact with different Russian organisations including the Minister of Transportation, Aviation Committee and Minister of Emergency situations. We also conducted interviews on the phone with pilots who were telling us some incredible details about the cases we were working on and aviation in general.
It was fascinating learning what it’s like to be a pilot and some of the different technical features of aeroplanes meant we have some very interesting days of research. Although reading the crash reports and hearing firsthand accounts was a sobering reminder of the huge loss of life in these catastrophes.
For one of the cases that we were working on moved from research into production as we organised and filmed an interview. This episode focused on the crash of the Sukhoi Superjet in Indonesia in 2012. It was a demonstration tour called “Welcome to Asia” in which the plane was showcased to the potential customers.
We were able to find a Russian journalist who was on this demonstration tour to report on how well the Sukhoi was being received throughout Asia. On this particular day in Indonesia, he didn’t take the second flight preferring to take photos of the plane taking off. This was the flight that turned into disaster where his colleagues and other people on board were killed.
Alyona our producer conducted the interview with Aleksandr.
Interviewing is always hard work but it’s also the most interesting and exciting part of filming with people when you discover firsthand their personal stories and you start to feel very close to them.
We are very happy to work on the Russia parts of this show and have seen for ourselves the meticulous work that goes into the research.
In October we had a pleasure of working with a Japanese crew and 4 Japanese comedians who came to film an episode of their famous show “Let’s challenge the world” in Russia. This is a very popular travel show broadcasted by NTV Japan for 10 years reaching a viewing audience of 20 million people per episode.
The Japanese celebrities usually find for their show some really interesting and unusual activities that they can do in each country.
In Moscow they experienced Russian traditional dancing with Beryozka dance team and tried speed climbing with the Russian Olympic champion Anna Tsyganova.
They also wanted to meet with special people from the country who have unusual talents. So we brought to Moscow from his home by the Black Sea the shawarma chef who mixes martial arts with the preparation of shawarma in a show of knifes and a blur of actions as he moves so fast. We found and took over for a morning a great little café location for filming him.
We also contacted Sadvakasovs family and brought 10 year old speed boxer Evnika with her father to Moscow so we could film a part of the show about Evnika’s unique boxing skill. It was really lovely to meet this young lady and to see her in action is incredible.
For the final day of filming we organised a photoshoot with Stepan, a Russian bear who is known as a very friendly and gentle bear which is very hard to believe when you first see this huge frightening animal. We found a great forest location on the outskirts of Moscow which was perfect for the shoot.
We were all so excited to meet this lovely bear that after the filming was wrapped we all took selfies with him.
You can watch behind the scenes video HERE
This shoot was hard work but also great fun and we love challenges like these, working under pressure when you need to find a solution whatever the cost.