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Adventures in Wild California

The Stories of Adventures in Wild California

bigImage Into the Stratosphere: Skysurfing Over Mission Bay

Greg MacGillivray and his team flew to Mission Bay near San Diego to shoot unprecedented footage of world champion skysurfers Troy Hartman and Joe Jennings frolicking in the air just above where the land meets the sea.  "It's an unexpected view - and not an easy one to get. We had to wrangle special FAA permission to shoot there," explains writer/producer Mark Krenzien.

The very concept was a risk: no one had ever filmed extensive freefall shots with an IMAX camera.  IMAX and freefall seemed a contradiction in terms.  Who would dare jump out of a plane with a bulky, 75-pound IMAX camera strapped to their chest?  The answer turned out to be Joe Jennings, who is not only a skysurfer but also an innovative aerial cinematographer in his own right. Jennings designed a special harness to hold the camera, as well as a massive wing-suit - with fabric spanning from his knees to his wrists - to slow his rate of descent.  He then took dozens of practice jumps to perfect the art of flying the IMAX camera.

Another constant obstacle in shooting the freefall sequences was the notoriously short length of each freefall jump:  approximately 45 seconds.  Luckily, Jennings was used to the time limit.  He also designed a special hand switch so he could stop and start filming when he had the best shots lined up.  Ultimately, it took some 30 freefall jumps for the filmmaking team to get their stunning skysurfing sequences. 


Millions upon millions of people from across the world have admired the Golden Gate Bridge’s mile-long, 746-foot high steel expanse, replete with ribbons of bracing cable and sky-high twin towers.  But few people realize the on-going human story behind the smooth operation of the Golden Gate Bridge.  As cars and bicycles whiz under the bridge, high-wire iron workers are teetering above assuring the continued safety of one of the most immense human structures ever built. 

The Golden Gate Bridge has never been seen via high-intensity IMAX cinematography before in any form.  But ADVENTURES IN WILD CALIFORNIA’s filmmakers wanted to reveal the wild extremes that maintenance of this most famous bridge requires – so the IMAX camera journeyed up in the little-known, box-sized elevator, taking the 4 1/2 minute trip up to the very top of the bridge, along with the iron workers who scale its heights every day. 

From here, the team was able to garner a truly unprecedented view of California – not only of the beautiful San Francisco cityscape in the distance but of the daring human spirit that keeps this landmark bridge in perfect shape for those who use it. 

To communicate the heart-pounding view and high-velocity inner experience of the ironworkers, Greg MacGillivray designed a special variant to the IMAX camera:  a compact, 38-pound version that could be strapped around a Golden Gate Bridge ironworker’s neck.  Now the audience could truly know what it is like to walk in their shoes, 700 feet in the air, with fifty mile-an-hour winds and 38 pounds around their necks.

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Produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films. Producers: Greg MacGillivray, Mark Krenzien, and Alec Lorimore. Director: Greg MacGillivray. Distributor: MacGillivray Freeman Films. Executive Producer: K2 Communications. Writer: Mark Krenzien. Director of Photography: Brad Ohlund. Editor: Jim Foster. Narrator: Jimmy Smits. Original Score: Lindsay Buckingham and Brian Wilson.


BMZ Reviews:

Westward Education and Ultimate Sports to the IMAX® By Ross Anthony

Outside Reviews:

"A new IMAX film captures the majesty and the minutiae of the Golden State" By Joe Baltake, Sacramento Bee

"Going Wild in California" By Bob Thompson, Toronto Sun

"Adventures in Wild California" By Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

"Adventures in Wild California" By Chris Gore, Film Threat

"Adventures in Wild California" By Mike Kerrigan, BoxOffice Magazine

Related Articles

Bryan Iguchi: Wild Californian By MacGillivray Freeman Films (Oct 2001)

Big Movie Spotlight: Greg MacGillivray By BMZ Staff (Nov 2000)

FREE FALLING: MTV Host Jumps for WILD CALIFORNIA By Troy Hartman (Summer 2000)

Jeff Clark Charges GIANT Waves By BMZ Staff (Oct 10, 2000)

BMZ User Reviews

Rating: Excellent
Posted by:
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Rating: Excellent
Posted by: louie22
Adventures featured some of the best film work I have seen in a while. I particularly enjoyed the sky surfing and big-wave surfing portions. However, the Disney part seemed a little too "branded" for my liking. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic movie and will probably end up seeing it again. ... Read More >>

Rating: excellent
Posted by: landrith1
Wow! Some pretty amazing stuff in here . . . from surfing 40 foot waves to surfing in the sky. And a cool Lindsey Buckingham soundtrack to boot! ... Read More >>