Crew’s Control

Few people on earth are capable of using imaging gear like cinematography specialists Stunt Camera Crew. Hold on tight for their stunning, stunting insight.

If you looked at Stunt Camera Crew’s showreel, you’d be convinced there’s nowhere they can’t go. And you might be right. The company’s founding members, Daniel Ilabaca and Will Sutton, transitioned from parkour pioneers to stunt performers, to online filmmakers during the YouTube boom.

In recent years, they’ve combined these areas of their lives to become full- blown cinematographers. Their work is impressive to say the least – topped only by the lengths they go to in order to capture footage: leaping from ledge to ledge, rollerblading backwards down sets of stairs and speeding across ice.

“Video has always been a part of what we do,” explains Ilabaca. “When parkour came to the UK, filming the scene and being a part of it went hand in hand.”

Sutton adds: “We’ve each got 20 years of parkour experience, and almost as many years of video production, having filmed our own videos for much of that time.”

Taking these skills to the next level was a very natural process, as Ilabaca recalls. “Pursuing stunt work, I found myself working with DOP Matthew Libatique. On the first day of the shoot, I was suggesting where to place the camera based on my stunt movements. By the following morning, Matthew was coming to me to ask for that insight unprompted.

“That was my light bulb moment. We had a perspective on movement that’s very rare and that experience gave me the green light to use it in a new way. Will was already working as a camera operator by that point, so it was perfect.”

The process of filming itself can only be put down to experience, and what Sutton describes as “a lot of preparation”.

Ilabaca continues: “With our history of performances, shows and stunts, we’ve just learnt to drown out the noise. We’ve become very proficient at knowing how to stay focused on our subject, while navigating obstacles with the camera.

“The prep is very valuable, but it only goes so far. I was brought in to do a specialist sequence for the opening of Solo: A Star Wars Story – and on the day of the shoot, I was suddenly given a costume with gloves and a helmet to wear, and I also discovered there would be pyrotechnics.

“It happens often – it’s just the nature of the job. Often, adaptation is the best approach. That’s really in line with our parkour background. If you go off course and panic, then try to correct it, you often end up in an even worse place than before.”

Tools of the Trade

It’s difficult to conjure an image of either athlete moving gracefully while loaded up with ordinary camera gear, but it does happen. “What we do is still very new, so kit designed for our needs is limited,” says Ilabaca. “You require bodily freedom, while still being able to capture the cinematic look with a gimbal or any other tool. There’s a vast amount of potential to develop kit specifically for that.

“I use the Freefly Movi Pro with the RED Komodo as my go-to lightweight set- up. There’s an extensive custom set-up on the gimbal – it’s all about finding efficient and versatile camera handling.”

RED Komodo

“I love the Movi for its ability to handle bigger camera packages, which is particularly useful on commercial shoots,” adds Sutton. “The RED is fantastic, though. It has the full array of features required for virtually any project and is essentially the size of an action cam – perfect for our needs.”

Freefly Movi Pro

“Global shutter is another important feature,” Ilabaca says. “It’s an absolute essential when we’re going one way and our performer is going the other.”

The lack of entirely perfected kit is an ongoing journey, Ilabaca says. “Our particular requirements have actually been a large part of ongoing conversations with the consultants at CVP – who take a camera and work with us to build and design a tailored solution. We acquire gear frequently and really feel we have developed a relationship, and always have a good experience. We have loads of ideas in development, including a pre-vis studio which would essentially be a battleground, designed for testing all types of equipment in the context of what we do.

“There’s gear we’d love to try – the DJI RS 2, for example. It’s a great product, but there’s no way of knowing exactly what it could be used for. Could it withstand our process? Could we put an Arri Alexa on there and move freely? Could I be confident on a commercial set? Developing a modular space and being able to go to set and use tried-and-tested gear will allow us to take things further. We’d also like to present those unique reviews to an audience.”


Ilabaca concludes: “Ultimately, it takes a company like CVP, which has access to such a broad range of gear. It’s a door that can make an idea like this tangible. Nothing is set in stone, but CVP has been so receptive and supportive of our ambitions from the moment we reached out.”

If their work is anything to go by, with the right support, you would be hard pressed to see any kind of limit on the horizon for Stunt Camera Crew.

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