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Chuck Berry about to base jump      Photo Bruce Hazler

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In a collaboration between Red Bull NZ & Mini NZ, a crew gathered at Red Bull's 'Base Camp' house in Queenstown to shoot the 'Chuck Vs Keys' for the Mini Soho IX. Led by Ivan Mennim we headed for the hills at the head of Lake Wakatipu to our base near the jump site. Winds aloft was evident from the wind borne snow on the tops so we headed up the Rees river to shoot set ups in a snowy river bed.
The following day was bluebird, the kind you live for. The staging area was in solid frost on this crisp, clear morning, the mountains coming alive in the first, warming rays of the day. I'm excited to be gathering parachuting gear, mountaineering equipment, radios, windsock, cameras & gear, as I hear the faint sound of an approaching Squirrel helicopter. Yeah, mission ON. The heli arrives, flown by Alfie Speight, an absoloute master of his machine & a total asset to have on our shoot with a good eye for camera flying & a cool character under fire.
Gear is loaded & we take off, heading for the hills, flying over beech forest on the way to the landing zone below the cliffs. The LZ is set up then mountain guide Bruce Hazler, camera man Regan Low & myself flew up the face of the cliff, spotting 5 Chamois in the fresh snow on the way up to my lofty 900' high pinnacle, protruding like a diving board in the middle of an over hanging wall. Bruce sets some rope while I prep my parachute & cameras. Now the fun begins, all the parts that make a mission have come together. Being at the top of a cliff with your gear on can only mean one thing... ACTION!
Being at 6000' & winter, my small rocky, off angle launch point also has ice on it. No worries... I've got a parachute on. Alfie flies Regan to shoot aerials & the key throw while I'm perched on the edge of a 900' drop, balancing against the occasional wind from the heli. If you're looking for excitement in your work, this is hard to beat.
The heli is set, the camera rolling & I get the OK... Yeah. My plan has been mentally rehearsed, time to realise the reality. Yeah. The special bit is the first micro moment as you begin motion toward the edge, here it comes, the edge of the planet, no going back, push off...into thin air. Accelerating down the face, the wind noise & visuals bombard the senses with sights & sounds of a true action experience. Time slows as my mind works in high gear to match the situation... after all... the ground's getting closer... & the closer you get to it, the faster it comes! My parachute opens beautifully & as the cliff is high in the mountains, I treat myself to a contour fly down the hill, among the snowy bluffs on my way to the LZ.
Hooray, what a day. I pack & head back for round two. Second jumps are good after ice breaker & have a more familiar feel allowing me to think more about improving the camera shots from the wrist & helmet cam while also thinking of the jump itself.
What a great day, in a great place, doing great stuff. Cheers to Bruce Hazler for great photo's. I like what can be achieved with a small crew of good people whose skills & energy combine to create in reality, what was just an idea. The power of thought, positivity & passion is indeed very powerful.
Dream Big

Chuck