Filming in Iceland Behind the Scenes: Day 1
Like any great adventure, let's begin with the "why". Why go to Iceland - of all countries - to film? Allow me to be so bold: there is no country with as much visible beauty as Iceland. It is a nation devoted to showing off our Creator God's truest talents - rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, thundering rivers and wildlife roaming as though they have never met a human. This place is my inspiration for what I do. Iceland represents big ideas, captured beauty and a call to worship our Lord. It is time to start making church backgrounds with more than simple graphics - I want every aspect of our worship experience to bring people before the Lord. These backgrounds are a true testament to worship because they draw the worshipper in and cause them to gaze on the majesty of the Lord Almighty.
My first day, I arrived in Reykjavik at 4 a.m. and proceeded to pick up my rental car and head out immediately onto the ring road. If you haven't looked at a map lately of the country (you know, in your spare time), let me explain the roads to you. There is one major road that circles around the entire island. From this road, are many dirt roads that take the driver off to unique landscapes, trails and scenic vistas. Unless a seasoned Icelander, you won't know exactly what to expect when you arrive at a destination. It may be a 40-foot waterfall or a gorge overlooking an exaggerated mountain range. You may have very well known that you would be approaching a great thing of beauty, but no photo compares to the magnitude and breath-taking display when you actually arrive.
The plan was to drive counter-clockwise around the country in six days. The goal was to film in High-Definition, 4K, and aerial video almost entirely non-stop, at as many destinations as possible. Believe me - this was the easiest part. It seemed at times that I couldn't make it further than a few kilometres before feeling the need to pull over to check what was happening over a ridge or down in a valley. Iceland has some of the most diverse landscapes on the planet and it was my goal to capture as many as possible.
The first stop was Geyser, a vent in the Earth's surface that periodically ejects a column of hot water and steam (about every 9 minutes). This location was great because it offered very close filming proximity to the constant explosion of water. I thought it offered a unique visual experience, similar to smoke but moving at an incredible speed and against gravity. It made me think: how many times do we read Scripture and question the likelihood of events happening - like Mose and the burning bush? Yet here I was, staring at something much more awe-inspiring and baffling and I take it in, as it is.
My second stop was the incredible and enormous Gulfoss - the golden falls. This waterfall is massive spectacle of nature, cascading its' water over an angled-face drop. The magnitude of the falls allowed for multiple filming angles and sweeping views of the entire area. This three-step waterfall in an amazing natural wonder and has few rivals anywhere on Earth!
By the middle of the afternoon, I arrived at Seljalandsfoss - a waterfall with a 200-foot drop, coming right off the edge of the ridge that lines most of the Southern of Iceland. While not a wide waterfall, is it very high and allows visitors to get in behind the cascade into a rock shelter. From this vantage point, explorers can look out into the valley from behind the falls and see the former lava field. I was able to film the location with my drone and get some great views of the area surrounding the falls.
The last stop of the day (and the camping spot for the night) was Skogafoss. This is possibly the most photographed and recognizable waterfall in Iceland. When I arrived late in the evening, the grounds were swarming with tourists (which would undoubtably ruin the shots I hoped to take) so I decided to make camp for the night in a grassy area just outside of the falls and wait till dawn to film. That night, as I lay in my tent talking to my wife on the phone, she couldn't believe me when I told her I was sleeping at the base of a waterfall. I'd love to tell you I had the most magnificent sleep of my life with the rhythmic pounding of the falls in the background, but the truth was I hardly slept a wink. That's real life for you. I woke up at 5 a.m. to find myself alone at the falls, making for the perfect hour to begin filming the falls without disruption or distraction. As cliche as it might sound, it was just me, God and nature.