In collaboration with Nonfiction Unlimited and Google Branded Studio, we made a commercial featuring the Google Emergency Location Service application by telling the true story of an Austrian paraglider’s accident and rescue. The film was shot in a documentalist style and the accident was reenacted by Andreas “Andi” Gremmel, with whom these events actually happened. The location was also the original one on the Schneeberg mountain, which is only an hour’s drive from Vienna. The shoot’s production and location services were provided by Progressive’s Team.
For the shoot Andi launched yet again from Schneeberg’s 2076 meters high peak
Austria is undoubtedly one of the most popular European locations among extreme sports enthusiasts, let that be for mountain climbing, snow kiting or rafting. Paragliding is also much loved in Austria, but since it is an exceptionally dangerous sport, there are countless aspects one must pay attention to, for example, the location and the height of the flight, the weather conditions, not to mention the direction and the force of the wind. Andreas Gremmel has often flown in extreme conditions and during the winter, regularly starting his flights off mountains thousands of meters tall. Despite having launched from Schneenberg’s peek multiple times, Andreas' accident was caused by miscalculating the force of the wind, resulting in him hitting a cliff face due to the strong wind and consequently falling into a wooded valley.
During rescuing they were able to locate Andi with the accuracy of a few meters
In 2015, with the EENA (European Emergency Number Association) Google developed the ELS application, that immediately sends the location of the user in need of help to the relevant rescue unit, enabling them to know exactly where the person in need is. After the crash in a dark wooded area, Andreas only a had weak signal and was not able to precisely describe his situation otherwise, but thanks to the ELS application, the rescue unit was able to determine his location with 6-meter accuracy, so that they could promptly provide helicopter rescue services. The Austrian rescue service units were among the first to start using this application, assisting them being able to save many more lives in time.
Due to the documentative nature of the commercial, it was important for the story not to be played by actors, but by the people with whom the events actually happened. In the film, there are also personal interviews with the rescue helicopter’s pilot, as well as the technician who assisted in calculating Andreas’ location.
For hiking we provided sufficient equipment and mountain guides for all of our crewmembers
The locations were one of the largest challenges of the shoot, especially when reaching the peak of Schneeberg, which is a stunning and much-loved nature resort. Between April and November, its peak can be easily approached on foot and by railway. However, between December and April, one can only get to the top by hiking due to this season’s heavy snowing and freezing conditions, making it life-threatening and only suitable for highly experienced climbers. For our shoot, only a reduced number of crew members hiked to the 2076 meter high peak and we provided a mountain guide for every crew member even though they too were experienced in climbing. Then the reenactment of Andreas' flight took place. On a mountain peak so high and especially in a time when the weather is so unpredictable, there was a risk that at reaching the peak the wind will not be appropriate for flying, but fortunately, we had perfect flying weather on both of our shooting days.
While the rescue was performed by a police helicopter, the scene was recorded by another helicopter
The aerial footage of the flight and the rescue was taken by a helicopter and a drone equipped with shootovers. In the scene, the rescue was executed by a police helicopter and in order to shoot the crash in the most authentic way, we actually broke a drone while shooting.
Google’s commercial film is truly exceptional even in its genre, due to its message, story and documentative style. During this special project, it was a joy for us to be able to work with Nonfiction Unlimited, one of the greatest in the documentary genre.
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