a concentrate of wild nature

Spring and summer were very busy periods at Riot House, let’s make up for lost time by speaking about this beautiful project we dealt with at the beginning of 2015.

The Departure Sometimes, participating to a Facebook contest at the last minute can be good… Damien filled out a form (found by chance) the day before the end of the registration phase without truly believing it. And among thousands of participants, we had the (very) good surprise to be selected to participate to the Dominica Film Challenge a few weeks late. A creative contest that gathers 6 teams of 2 people from different countries (3 USA, 1 CANADA, 1 ENGLAND and… us!). We flew to Dominica, a small island of about 40 x 20 km located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, in the Caribbean. After a stopover at the much less pretty Saint Martin (because of an important urbanization), we landed in Jurassic Park Dominica in a very small airport, and crossed the island by van. Well crossing 20 km on an island full of mountains on very craggy roads will take you 1h30! Just for the record, we took off from Paris the day when a computer breakdown decided to hold 10,000 luggage back, including ours of course. So we arrived with our cabin backpacks full of material, in flip-flops and swim shorts, bought in St Martin. First welcome evening, we met all our friendly colleagues and the agency organizing the challenge (Bolin Marketing, Minneapolis, USA) as well as those in charge of tourism in Dominica, including the Minister!

The Contest Rules of the Dominica Film Challenge are simple. Each team has the same resources during the whole week: a private driver during the day and a guide on the first day in order to help each team to plan its steps. The purpose of this challenge is to make the most beautiful video possible while seizing the island’s wild beauty. So the first day was pretty chill, between meeting with our guides on morning and see trip to admire dolphins and other sea animals on afternoon. It was like a summer camp for photographers and videographers. Each team had its own style: Canadians produce neat images, Hawaiians are underwater images specialists and British have a “reporter” style with a kind of BBC touch.

The Shooting Every day took place more or less the same way: waking up at dawn, we met our friendly driver who took us wherever we wanted, and we returned late at night to our hotel, exhausted! Each team evolved independently (but sometimes we met each other, like our Canadian friends, with whom we shared a boat), we also gathered all together in the evening, around a good Creole meal and a “Kubuli”, the local beer. Our first days were a little slowed down, missing a half of the material, lost somewhere between Paris and Roseau, the capital of Dominica. Our travel experience allowed us to be operational and we worked hard to bring back beautiful images. 4 days after, all our suitcases were there and we were finally able to shoot with our Red Epic and our drone. Following this misfortune, the rest of the teams and the organization let us an extra weekend to take pictures. We took advantage of this opportunity to do the famous “Boiling Lake Walk”, an 8-hour hike, probably our best memory of Dominica. Accompanied by two friendly guides, we walked through rainforest, then climbed several mountains, crossed several clouds of rain, before arriving at the valley of desolation, lunar landscape and smells of sulfur due to a strong volcanic activity. Another hour of walk before reaching the famous Boiling Lake, the world’s second largest boiling lake (the first one is in New Zealand). Unbelievable! We have been very careful to protect our equipment in these harsh weather conditions. A few days earlier, our Canadian friends could not bring back any images because of a too important degree of humidity…

Behind the Scenes We brought back full hard drives and an incredible experience from this week of shooting. The kindness and warmth of the people of Dominica will remain a lasting memory, as well as various experiences from which we learned a lot! Shooting in a tropical environment is not easy when you come from Auvergne… The weather is very changing and gave us some scares. We also had the opportunity to get up very early to film a sunrise that never happened, or a panorama that remained desperately grey. Fortunately, sunshine always follows rain. It was necessary to shoot despite this weather in order to be in the right places at the right time! Our baggage delays (4 days out of 7 is a good average…) forced us to use cunning. It was impossible to use our RED camera for the first few days (missing charger, and obligation to travel with empty Lipo batteries in the airplane), nor our Ronin DJI stabilizer (same reasons). Seeing as half of our drone was still in transit, we had to settle for a Canon 5d mkIII and a gopro to start the adventure! After 2 days, we went in a national TV center to charge our RED Epic batteries so we could start filming as we wanted while waiting for the arrival of the precious luggage. In a nutshell, all these problems made us love Dominica even more and the film we made is even more special to us. This island is a real concentrate of wilderness: raging Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, rainforest, active volcanoes, wild rivers…!

For more information about the challenge : http://www.dominicachallenge.com

For more information about Dominica: http://www.authentique-dominique.com/

You invite to visit this beautiful country, which is in even greater need of our support today after the Hurricane Erika in September 2015.

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