Following the huge success of SAS: Who Dares Wins Series 1, which we shot on the coast of South-West Wales in a disused ammunition store, both Channel 4 and its viewers wanted more. And even better for us, Minnow Films wanted The Complete Camera Company to film it again, but there was a catch. Series 2 was going to follow the Jungle Phase of the SAS Selection process and so the location would be slightly different to Wales!
Director of The CCC, Ben Hoffmann, travelled with a small team from Minnow Films on recces in both Panama and Ecuador to assess the various pros and cons of filming in each location. Highlights included a visit to a cave full of bats, trekking through virgin rainforest, and seeing the Panama Canal in action. Following extensive location visits, it was collectively agreed that Ecuador would work best both visually and practically, and we followed up with a final recce to confirm specific shooting locations, camera positions and prepare for the rig. Minnow wanted 35 cameras, 25 personal mics and 25 atmospheric mics in order to cover every bit of action over a large area. This meant that we had to prepare nearly 3.5 tonnes of equipment, including 25 kilometres of cable and 1100 individual items that would go on to build an engineering department and full gallery in the middle of the jungle.
Having filmed in a remote location in Ethiopia previously, The CCC chose to take a similar approach to the execution of the travel and the rig. No stone could be left unturned. It was vital that they built strong, reliable relationships with the fixers on the ground in the jungle and were able to guarantee the safe arrival of a huge amount of expensive equipment.
The biggest challenge for a rig like this is the conditions in which the equipment must function. The jungle provided us with very heavy rain, hot temperatures and high humidity throughout, so we used our specialised outdoor camera housings to protect each remote camera to keep them waterproof and cooled. We used huge air conditioning units to direct cold, dry air over the equipment in order to keep everything running its at optimum operating temperature and care was taken to rig exterior technical equipment underneath roofs and inside huts to protect it from as much moisture as possible.
Once again a team of ex-Special Forces soldiers were drafted in to create a unique version of the jungle phase of SAS Selection, and they would challenge 25 civilian men to complete it. The CCC were responsible for capturing each terrifying and exhausting moment. This kind of documentary is unique in that we are not just visiting an already functioning environment – i.e. a hospital, a school, or someone’s home. The contributors themselves, the SAS team, have to be able to create the perfect conditions for filming so that they can emulate some of their own selection experiences as closely as possible. We therefore had to make sure that we supported their decisions, along with Minnow’s production team and Art Director, to help create the most authentic set-up possible.
SAS: Who Dares Wins Series 2 took 10 people 8 days to rig camera, sound and engineering equipment over the recruit dorm, recruit mess, torture room, interrogation hut, mirror room, prayer room, SAS dorm, and parade ground. We used a mixture of camouflage netting and spray paint to disguise the kit so that it was all as discrete as possible, helping both the contributors and the directing staff to focus on their work rather than being distracted by the cameras.
The final show is a 5 x 60 minute series following the jungle phase of the notorious SAS selection process – known as the toughest military entry test in the world, and all the blood sweat and tears that go hand in hand with it.
Facts & Figures
Filmed: May 2016
Aired: Autumn 2016
Channel: Channel 4
Viewers: 2.16 Million
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