The stirring scene is one of many choreographed by Anson Fogel, a director for Camp 4 Collective, a small Utah-based company that makes high-end commercials and documentaries—and stunning (and completely real) aerial images are a staple of its visual storytelling.
Fogel, 44, is a new private pilot whose lifelong fascination with aircraft (his grandfather used to take him flying in a Piper Cub) led him to organize and execute ambitious aerial photo shoots from Alaska to arctic Canada and Nepal.
The Beech scene was shot from a Eurocopter AS350 near Denali National Park with an elaborate gyro-stabilized camera system, and Fogel uses such high-end tools extensively.
“We want to be on the bleeding edge and do things that have never been done in aerial filming before,” he said. “In the Himalayas, that meant filming from high altitudes that pushed the helicopter to its limits. We work in some extremely remote places, and aviation is essential for getting us to the places we want to go, and filming the images that help us tell stories.”
Camp 4 uses drones extensively but doesn’t expect them to replace manned aircraft.
“We’ve used drones for years,” Fogel said. “But drones are limited since they can’t go as high, as far, or as fast as helicopters or fixed-wing airplanes.”
In his own flying, Fogel flies single-engine piston aircraft for personal transportation.
“My family and friends are scattered throughout the West,” he said. “The ranch in Colorado where my parents live is a six-hour drive, or a two-hour flight in a Cessna 182—and I look for any excuse I can find to fly.”
Much of Camp 4’s filming centers on extreme sports and their youthful adherents. But Fogel says he likes to fly with pilots who have many years of hard-won experience.
“They type of filming we do demands precision and good judgment, and we’ve become increasingly selective about the pilots we fly with,” he said. “We like career pilots who have lots of varied experience. It’s important that they have lots of time in the mountains.…Personally, I kind of like flying with old guys.”