/News 27.06.24

Aerial Film Australia Helps Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Soar to New Heights

20th Century Studios’ fantasy action blockbuster Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has been a hit at the American summer box office, with a global haul of US$382m so far. Filmed in Australia – in large part thanks to the country’s unique and “otherworldly” forest landscapes – the film’s creators tapped local helicopter and fixed-wing filming company Aerial Film Australia to help deliver some of the movie’s more complex shots.

With credits on recent blockbusters ranging from Aquaman, to Alien: Covenant, to romcom smash hit Anyone But You – Aerial Film Australia were the obvious choice when filmmakers were looking for a trusted pair of hands for sky-high shooting Down Under.

AFA were tasked with a number of shots involving valleys and rivers, primarily due to the remoteness of the scenery filmmakers had in mind.

“For one of the key opening shots, production decided a helicopter was the best way to go,” explains AFA’s aerial cinematographer Peter Beeh. “Firstly due to the difficulty of accessing the location, but also it was a long and ultimately complex shot that needed a lot of control in line of flight combined with camera pan, roll and tilt.”

Footage courtesy 20th Century Studios © 2024

“One of the big strengths of helicopter shots is they deliver the greatest level of both camera movement and lens control. Using larger high quality zoom lenses we can easily adjust focal length and we can shoot with very, very long lenses when required. You can make a call in the air to choose the best focal length rather than it being fixed from takeoff.”

The use of the helicopter also assisted with scouting locations – allowing filmmakers to explore valleys and inaccessible terrain that would have taken days to reach on foot. “Going in, we didn’t necessarily know what the best location was,” explains Peter. “The heli setup gives lots of flexibility to find a great location and we were able to move from valley to valley to scout in minutes rather than hours or days.”

Shots delivered by AFA’s team served as VFX plates, including an opening shot following a CGI eagle dropping from the sky before following a river up to an abandoned city. “We were given some very specific and specialised shots, that only a helicopter can do,” explains Peter, “both from a control and planning point of view but also aesthetically.”

Footage courtesy 20th Century Studios © 2024

“It’s all about using the right tool to achieve what needed to be done, and offering a $1 million camera system offers a lot of nuance when executing a shot!”

Watch AFA’s showreel: