I recently had the opportunity of watching Free Solo about Alex Honnold climbing El Cap without any support or protective gear. The documentary made it big at the Oscars and is littered with amazing aerial shots. I wondered what equipment they had used to shoot the documentary. As the movie progresses, you even come to watch a remote controller for a drone alongwith the other gear. The credits show Nick Wolcott as the drone operator. Is it true that Jimmy Chin and his crew employed a drone in Yosemite’s National Park.
Did they manage to scrap a permission from the administration to use a drone in shooting their movie thanks to efforts wielded by National Geographic?You must be aware of the fact that it is illegal to fly drones in the United States’ National Parks. Intrigued by it all, I took a closer look at the documentary to determine if a drone had been employed in shooting the drone.Nevertheless, if you have not watched Free Solo as yet, I would highly recommend it to you. It is a fantastic and tantalizing experience to watch Alex Honnold climb El Cap. Jimmy Chin alongside Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and their crew have accomplished an exceptional job to be honest.
Any drone shots, folks?
So, did the director resort to using a drone in Yosemite’s National Park? It appears that they did not! After taking a closer look at the documentary and skimming through the interviews, the only drone video footage incorporated in the documentary is that of Alex’s free solo climb in Taghia, Morocco in 2016 which begins about 20 minutes into the film. Jimmy Chin’s better half, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi says in an exclusive interview to the website No Film School that it is not allowed to use a drone in the National Parks throughout the United States. She goes onto add that the drone footage was that of the free solo climb in Morocco and the video footage in Yosemite was captured via a helicopter. So, that’s the answer right? It is true that no drones were used to capture Alex Honnold’s solo climb of El Cap.
Drone vs Helicopter
What got be befuddled, though, was that just before Alex is about to commence his climb of El Cap, one of the crew members discusses the effect that drones have on the protagonists’ climb.As we approach the 50 minute mark in the film, there is discussion about the repercussions of the film crew on Alex’s climb. Cheyne Lempe, the cameraman, says that it is quite fearsome to even think that one of the crew members turns out to be responsible for Alex’s death. It could be a drone or the ropes or even one of us accidentally knocking off rocks, he adds.
This makes it seem as if the crew had made up their minds to use a drone for at least some part of the movie. And a litter farther into the movie, we see a shot of a marked drone controller placed on a countertop alongside all the labeled paraphernalia as the crew prepares to shoot Alex climbing El Cap.I am not really sure that they used a drone in the movie and even if they did manage to somehow strike a deal with the Yosemite’s administration that all the stakeholders will remain tightlipped about the use of drones.
Other national parks such as Crater Lake National Park has been having a torrid time of late with regard to illegitimate drone flights and have ramped up their efforts to ensure no drones are used within the park’s premises.
I am looking forward to hearing from you all regarding what you think about drone flights in national parks across the country. Particularly, some of the shots captured during the last few minutes of the movie could they have been shot with a drone? Here is a poll to help us know what you really think!