Sixteen diverse locations, 12 long days and a dozen kangaroos went into the making of Qantas’s new inflight safety video.
When a large group of people board a Qantas plane with cameras and recording gear, the cabin crew are naturally curious. “As soon as they found out we were shooting a new inflight safety video and that we had shot the old one, they had lots to say about it,” says film writer and director Josh Whiteman, who made the video with producer Jason Byrne and creative partner Paul Chappell.
As a result of the crew’s feedback, the team added a few extra seconds to the new production. “I’d get collared in the galley on some flights and the crew would say, ‘Listen, we need more time – last time you rushed us through the life jackets and masks demo!’”
Whiteman and his team caught 28 flights in three weeks to shoot the new video in 16 locations around Australia. It sounds like a logistical nightmare – the scenes in Hobart, the Hunter Valley and Sydney were all shot in a 24-hour period – but he says there were utterly transcendent moments. “At the beach at Cape Hillsborough in Queensland, we were hoping for a nice sunrise and a kangaroo,” he says. “In the end, we got that incredible pink light and about 12 roos and wallabies came down to hang out with us.”
The marsupials aren’t the only “cast”. Window-washer Jason Ramsey works in maintenance at the Q1 skyscraper in Surfers Paradise. Robert Parkes, the apple seller at Hobart’s Salamanca Market, is a local character. And the woman with the roos? That’s Sharon Wilson, a part-time cleaner at Cape Hillsborough’s tiny caravan park. “She’s a stunning human being,” says Whiteman.
While serendipity played its part, other elements of the video were meticulously planned. Stephen Page, artistic director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, choreographed a sinuous dance sequence incorporating three safety positions. Dancers performed it at dusk under the flight path at Cape Banks near Sydney’s La Perouse. “We had Qantas planes taking off over our heads all night, which was lovely,” says Whiteman. And Daniel Avakian’s fashion-forward designs made the models in oxygen masks feel de rigueur.
Whiteman covered vast swathes of Australia to make the latest inflight safety video but he says there’s still so much more to discover. “We could keep making these videos for years and never exhaust all the amazing things to see in this country.”