After shooting freeride mountain bikers in Utah and pro-surfer Malia Ward in the Hawaiian Islands, Allday Director Matt Baron chose a totally different path for his last film for luxury outerwear producer Moncler. This time, the parkour athlete Luciano Acuna Jr. evolves on an old boat-turned cement factory at night. Read Matt’s thoughts about the challenges around this particularly coercive film and enjoy some BTS below.
Who is the parkour athlete?
The parkour athlete for this film is Luciano Acuna Jr. He was suggested to me through a mutual friend who had been doing some parkour in his free time. Luciano was very enthusiastic about the project when I reached out to him and was onboard from the get-go.
You typically don’t see parkour happen on boats especially at night... Why did you choose a boat?
My goal for these Moncler Passion for Sport films has always been to show our subjects in a new way. Whether that’s achieved through how the film is shot, the focus of the story, or the choice of location depends on the sport itself. For the Parkour film, I watched a lot of videos on YouTube to see what had been done before. The majority of the films were shot in very urban environments (eg rooftops, garages etc.) and all were done during the day. I definitely wanted to shoot somewhere where you wouldn’t expect to see Parkour and do it at night, despite the challenges.
“We wanted to create the illusion of being chased through a forbidden space.”
After researching many abandoned locations in the NYC area I was drawn to the Brooklyn Grain Terminal in Red Hook. We went for a scout but when we got there the old boat-turned cement factory caught my eye. It was huge, full of rust and character, and had tons of parkour opportunities. Since it was made of solid steel it would be sturdy enough to climb and do tricks on it despite its decrepid look.
Was there unexpected challenges to shooting a film on a old boat?
There were several obstacles shooting on this boat, especially at night. The first objective was to find a path for Luciano to do his Parkour run and do it safely. We had a stunt team on set that put down pads and ensured the stability of everything he would interact with so he could practice his moves with confidence. The biggest challenge was lighting such a big boat at night. We needed lights that were powerful enough to expose the scene but mobile enough to be carried up cranes.
Aside from lighting the boat, we had to find safe routes for our steadycam operator to follow Luciano’s movements. We had a spotter at all times to make sure he didn’t trip or fall of any ledges on the multiple platforms.
There is a James Bond vibe to this film, do you agree?
I guess you could say that [laughs]. The point of the film was to show Parkour in a way that was visually exciting and dramatic. By choosing our location and shooting at night I think we set the scene for an action film that is packed with energy. We wanted the audience to feel that our subject was somewhere he shouldn’t be, as if trespassing and then being pursued by security, but they could be villains if you prefer.
Are the lights movements intentional or were you more playing with what happen in the harbor?
The light movements were all intentional. Since we wanted to create the illusion of being chased through a forbidden space, I told our grips to always be moving their lights, as if they were on patrol.
Tell us about the drone use here: any different usage from your two precedent Moncler video?
The drone was vital for this job. It allowed us to show the vast size of the location that cameras on the ground just couldn’t capture. Our steadycam operator could only follow him for 20 yards or so before running into an obstacle, so it also provided us with a way to follow Luciano’s movements through long runs. Most importantly, the drone served as character in the film. We wanted the drone to become a police helicopter, someone looking from the sky and trying to pick out Luciano and follow him. The shots we got with Luciano running along the center of the boat are meant to replicate chase scenes you see on TV of criminals running from the cops and jumping backyard fences. Accordingly we had the light on the crane follow Luciano in this scene so that it appears its coming from the drone itself.
“I told our grips to always be moving their lights, as if they were on patrol.”
The editing and music in this film are way different than the last two. Was there an influence there?
I decided not to edit this film as I thought it should be very different from the previous two films, which were made for the Moncler Spring Summer collection. I reached out to Will Town, an editor who I have worked with many times and who I respect tremendously for his unique style and creative editing. Will really surprised me with the pace and clever approach from his rough cut. It was completely different than what I would have done, yet I felt it elevated my footage and maintained my style of filmmaking. We decided to slow certain scenes down and extend takes so that there were nice pauses for dialogue in between the high octane runs.
Typically parkour videos do not have anywhere near this cinematic of approach. How was the process of translating the sport so visually?
When shooting for a high-end luxury brand like Moncler, the content has to convey a similar sense of grandeur and quality. The brand is all about being adventurous, pushing boundaries and doing it with style. Thus, my goal was to make a film that captures the excitement of a sport, and the new places it takes you in a way that feels elevated and highly-stylized. By shooting at such a vast, unexpected location with a specific lighting technique, moving cameras, drones and smoke machines, I think we were able to make something that feels big, unique and tasteful like the brand itself.