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HomeCraftsCameraAgainst All Odds John Gillan Gets the Shots

Against All Odds John Gillan Gets the Shots

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The wooden Polecam in place for the competition.
The wooden Polecam in place for the competition.

British cinematographer /Polecam owner-operator John Gillan, recently faced a major challenge when he was booked to cover the Azores leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition. Two days before the shoot, he flew to the Azores on his way to the small island where the event would take place, 1,000 miles from the nearest city, but at the airport the airline told him, “Sorry Mr. Gillan, we have lost one of your Polecam flight cases.”

He did have the cameras and all of the controls and electronics, but was missing the complete set of lightweight carbon fiber interlocking poles that make up the boom of the Polecam.

John Gillan with his regular Polecam.
John Gillan with his regular Polecam.

“With no chance of getting a replacement jib of any kind, we thought ‘can we build one then?’” explained Gillan. “Well we could, or should I say the two Red Bull riggers could. With their skill and ingenuity they cobbled together a wooden jib arm, 15 feet long, using left-over pieces of timber from the just-rigged diving platform. I was then able to cable tie, nail and screw my camera, hot head, cables, monitor, batteries and operating controls to the boom. Thank God those bits arrived!”

“Hats off to them for helping me get the shots,” he continued. “I had two different cameras with me, a Toshiba HD1 and a Camera Corps HD mini zoom. I decided to use the Camera Corps camera as this had the zoom lens which would help amplify the limited movement I had with the jib.”

Steffan Hewitt, Polecam’s designer and a director of the company said, “Those old sayings that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ both well apply here. John Gillan could so easily have said ‘oh well, I’ll go back to the hotel and have a few days off in the sunshine then,’ but he tackled the problem head on, along with the Red Bull riggers, and against all the odds John got the shots for his client.”

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