October 1, 2014 at 3:43PM

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Winter Stunt- River Crossing advice

Hey all. This winter I'm planning on shooting my first short film. There's a key part where a character swims across a river to escape a country.

I know not to just jump right in and do it without study and research first. I have a plan and I want to know what you guys think of it.

First, I'll put my character in a wetsuit, and cover it with adhesive hand/body warmers. Over that I'll put some thermals and his coat and a life jacket. I'll probably dig up some dry suit socks as well.

For the crossing, we would have a rope stretched across the river, tied off securely at both ends, but submerged so it does not show. The character can swim and use this if he gets tired. We'll also have a rope tied to him so we can pull him in in case of emergency.

We'll have two kayaks in the river, one with me and the camera and a paddler and the other waiting in case of emergency.

On the other side we'll have a heated SUV with towels, blankets, sleeping bag, change of clothes, and hot drinks and soup.

What do you guys think? Does this seem like a viable plan? We'll test the heated wetsuit idea in our nearby lake before doing it for the movie. What would you guys do for this stunt?

3 Comments

You seem to have all thought it out, but since it's concerning safety, it's very important all of you to be super careful.

It's called a stunt for a reason. I would suggest to fake it: Have your actor pretending to swim for the close-ups in the swallow end of the river and hire a professional swimmer, experienced with this kind of river swimming for the crossing so you can film him for the wide shots. You may do it even when waters are warmer.

But instead of guessing what is the best solution, why not hire a professional stuntman to arrange and execute the stunt. If it is an important scene for your movie, it will be money well spent and you will get the best results, without having to worry about safety measures. I'm sure you will find someone who would be intrigued to help you if they see you are serious and going the professional way.

October 16, 2014 at 5:06AM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3105

I agree that using a competent swimmer is a good idea and/or to ensure that whoever you are using (character, stunts or accomplished swimmer) is comfortable and able to swim in wardrobe. The hidden safety line is a good idea, but i'd run wardrobe tests in a pool with whoever will be performing this stunt to get a solid understanding of how these factors affect swimming abilities. Also, you need to take into account that this performance will change with water temperature too so just because they can do it in a pool doesn't guarantee the same results in an icy cold river.

I would also caution against the use of hand warmers inside a wetsuit. Many of them get pretty hot and can actually burn skin if placed in direct contact. They even warn against this on the product packaging as they're usually designed to work inside clothes. Also, they work in reaction to air so i'm not sure of their efficacy once submerged in water.

I also recommend that you have a warm place to quickly get the actor to once they have done the swim. Be it a fire, vehicle or tent etc. as hypothermia and other resultant conditions can present themselves quickly. I'd maybe encourage whoever you use, to get a physical done prior to the stunt too. People with unknown heart conditions etc can quickly experience cardiac problems when subjected to the shock of cold water.

I'll let you know if i think of anything else. I've been contemplating a similar idea for a screenplay im writing which involves a scene in the Ocean so it's a regular thought process for me at the moment!

Good luck and keep discussing your ideas for this scene as you may come up with solutions & ideas you didnt first anticipate!

December 4, 2014 at 1:40PM

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November 13, 2018 at 4:13AM

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