Jump Outs is an urban gameshow, produced and distributed by DailyMotion as a part of their new digital programming. Production assistant David Quan walks us through the set of the unscripted shoot, involving eight ENG cameras and a dozen GoPros.
It’s quiet on top of the Hill. The four of us sit in silence, but we’re far from bored. Our eyes are locked on the abandoned San Pedro neighborhood below where three young men deftly scale a two-story house as if they’re climbing stairs. The silence is broken by Lou, the designated spotter, as he calls out their position into a radio. Like something from a James Bond movie, four men in black appear from behind houses, cars, and trees, their eyes locked on the rooftops.
These are the Jump Out Boys, and they want their amulet back.
In February, the French-based video website Dailymotion announced their plans to enter the rapidly expanding market of original online content. With 127 million unique viewers generating over 2.5 billion video views every month (Comscore, December 2013), it isn’t difficult to understand why; the website is Europe’s most visited across all categories and averages more views than those of all major U.S. networks combined. Their first offering will be New York-based Feedback Kitchen, serving foodies and music-lovers with a combo of culture and creativity. Jump Outs, on the other hand, takes aim at a rowdier crowd and delivers a half-hour dose of Los Angeles adrenaline filled with heart-pounding action both on- and off-camera.
Created by SXM Productions and Jim Klock, directed by Tom Bannister, and produced by Larry Laboe, Tom Bannister, and Klock, Jump Outs represents a number of milestones for the digital production house. The new series stands as the site’s first unbranded and unscripted game show, being one of their largest productions to date. With over 75 crew members, communication was key in keeping the game running smoothly.
Consulting Producer Heather Kritzer said, “From a logistical stand point, strategy is everything when shooting a project like this, where cameras are everywhere. Cast and crew are spread out along several blocks necessitating clear, concise communication amongst producers and production team.” From our high vantage point, we witness the behind-the-scenes operations as the crew juggles dozens of extras, the teams, and the Jump Outs, separating them to keep the games fair.
With interviews being conducted before and after each game, complete silence was often needed, even at Production Base Camp. “Fortunately, we shoot in blocks with each team, so the critical lock ups were specific chunks of time, and in between the game segments crew could move freely about,” said Kritzer. “But manning key positions on the set is tantamount, and concentration key.”
The nine multi-talented athletes kept the camera crew on their toes as they were being chased up, down and around the neighborhood. Even on a closed, linear set, they were as dynamic as they were unpredictable. Director of Photography Hisham Abed, known for his work on MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills, utilized a variety of techniques to capture all the action: “We used eight ENG style cameras placed strategically in zones to be as prepared as possible to keep up with the action. Even then, there were times when things happened so fast we had a hard time keeping up.”
The feeds of all eight cameras (Sony PDW-F800s and Sony EX-3s for their lightweight attributes) streamed back to the Video Village, a garage filled to the brim with top of the line production equipment. From here, Abed and Director Thomas Bannister orchestrated the games, but even the two of them combined couldn’t keep an eye on everything. “To help fill the gaps in those ‘dark’ moments, we used a dozen GoPros mounted on chest harnesses on all the participants, and overhead we had a drone copter for both sweeping aerials and dynamic fast-moving action. The variety of POVs, coupled with our handheld footage, is going to make for an adrenaline-filled visual style. We did shoot some hi-speed footage at 240fps on the Sony FS700 as well.”
Although the action is sure to appeal to daredevils and thrill-seekers alike, there are more layers to the show underneath the raw physicality. For the Jump Out Boys, it seems like more than a game—it’s personal. Lou Johnson, the team’s spotter and quarterback of sorts, mused, “Jump Outs means a lot to us… [it] gives the public a little insight on just how dangerous the law enforcement is, and how mentally and physically tough law enforcement officers have to be… [it] demands a lot of all of us. Officers risk their lives every day doing heroic things to protect the public.”Their passion for their work shows in their post-game interviews, but win or lose, they appreciate the opportunity to compete. “As a retired law enforcement officer I long for excitement, camaraderie, and the reward of catching someone [doing] something they weren’t supposed to… I love working as a team with other like-minded warriors who like to win!”
The scene at the finish line is all smiles and high-fives as contestants compliment each other on their moves, not unlike more traditional sports. However, Jump Outs promises to be anything but conventional, inviting football players, skateboarders, and free-runners alike to test their mettle against the elite police unit.
After shooting for two tumultuous days, the neighborhood becomes a ghost town once more. Yet even with no one around, though, there’s an eerie feeling that someone is hiding just out of sight, ready to jump out at a moment’s notice. It is a fitting metaphor for the show Dailymotion and SXM have produced as they poise to take the digital world by storm. MM
David Quan is the production assistant on Jump Outs. Look out for the show on DailyMotion’s website, coming soon.
To subscribe to MovieMaker Magazine, click here.