The filmmaking team at Discover Footage recently took to the chaotic streets, windy rooftops and quiet skies above Manhattan to capture footage for an upcoming feature film, but what the team witnessed and filmed exceeded even their already lofty expectations. A rare weather pattern left a low layer of fog over the city, giving the filmmakers San Francisco-esque scenes from one of the world’s most recognized cities for one of the opening scenes of their new short film, ‘New York Rising‘.
The film quickly shifts from above the clouds to smooth time-lapse footage from the streets and rooftops around Manhattan. Aerial cinematographers and film editors Ryan Emond and Daniel Shoesmith carefully weave in Javin Lau’s clean time-lapse footage to create a dramatic and unique two-and-a-half minute look at one of the most photographed cities in the world.
I asked Emond about the early morning rare experience of capturing fog over the metropolis.
The day we went up over the fog was a series of unexpected events. We took an Uber from Manhattan to New Jersey. Our driver had been up all night and made some poor judgement calls, including trying to hop a median and getting his car stuck between lanes. For a moment we thought we were going to miss our sunrise flight. At the time, we just thought this would be any other ordinary flight.
When we arrived at the hanger, we walked through an office full of jerry cans and the sound of hardcore rap blasting at 6 in the morning led us to our pilot. He looked rough. Like he had a good night out and was smoking cigarettes to cover up the smell of last night’s whiskey the morning after. Everything about this point told us not to get on the helicopter. It all felt a little sketchy, but we shrugged it off and strapped ourselves into our helicopter. As the pilot approach, he walked past the helicopter and took piss on the tarmac. Second thoughts about this clicked in, but didn’t stop us, and actually, when all was said and done, he turned out to be a really awesome guy and very skilled pilot. During takeoff, the anti-foggers went down, so the only way to see through the windshield was with a quick wipe-down with your hand…as though you’re cleaning the mirror after getting out of the shower. Fortunately, the doors were off on our helicopter, so we had a perfect view of the city.
As we approached, we noticed a sea of clouds stretching from Manhattan to beyond the horizon. It was magic. Something we’ve never seen before. We were in a holding pattern orbiting the Freedom Tower. It was hard to believe what we were witnessing. Normally, the sky above Manhattan is busy. We heard radio control mention over our headsets that most flights in the area were grounded. We were the only helicopter above the city and had free reign from Lower Manhattan to the top of Central Park. It was a surreal event. There was no feeling of pressure to get the best angles before the fog dissipated, because every aspect of the city was beautiful under these conditions. Total amazement took over and filming almost became secondary. The technical side of the brains went on autopilot and we just enjoyed this rare moment. The footage we captured is the closest possible way to describe the experience, but even then, it could never equal actually witnessing the greatest city in the world still asleep, cozy in its blanket of fog.
See more from Discover Footage on their website, Facebook and Instagram.
See more from Ryan Emond on his website, Facebook and Instagram.
See more from Daniel Shoesmith on his website, Facebook and Instagram.
See more from Javin Lau on his website, Facebook and Instagram.
Below are still frames provided by Discover Footage.