Luckie Strike

Adventure - - Luckie Strike -

Hun­dreds of me­tres be­low the earth’s sur­face two men strug­gle to dis­cover a new en­trance into one of New Zealand’s most spec­tac­u­lar caves. Mike and Dave love be­ing un­der­ground, deep un­der­ground. They’re friends, and cavers, and they’re on a mis­sion to find a new en­trance to a spec­tac­u­lar cave. It’s dark, it’s muddy and it’s con­fined – more so than most peo­ple could bear, but Mike and Dave are de­ter­mined. Will th­ese two sin­gu­larly fo­cussed mates strike it lucky and find their way into some­thing breath­tak­ing?

DI­REC­TOR’S STATE­MENT Melissa Nick­er­son Film­ing Luckie Strike was cer­tainly not short of chal­lenges – in fact it had many un­usual ones that most pro­duc­tions would never even need to think about. Safety in par­tic­u­lar was a pri­or­ity for us to be sure that ev­ery­one was go­ing to be safe and make it out of the cave with­out in­jury, es­pe­cially when you con­sider some of the iden­ti­fied risks on our risk as­sess­ment in­cluded: con­fined spa­ces, un­der­ground wa­ter­falls, deep crevices, low oxy­gen, fall­ing rocks… oh and eels. It was not a shoot for the faint of heart and we took steps to en­sure the team was fully trained be­fore­hand, and all haz­ardous moves se­cured with safety lines. It was also re­as­sur­ing that three of the team were in the New Zealand CaveSAR.

On top of per­sonal safety, we also had to con­sider how we were go­ing to keep the equip­ment safe. Frag­ile cam­era and light­ing equip­ment needed to be taken into a world of dark­ness, hauled over rocks, low­ered into abysses, sub­merged in streams and buried in mud. We bun­dled all the equip­ment into wa­ter­proof, bump-proof pel­i­can cases which were then placed in heavy-duty cav­ing bags. This meant ev­ery time we wanted to film, we needed to un­pack three lay­ers, make sure our muddy hands were cleaned and dried, and set up lights. We’d then need to setup safety sys­tems to al­low our DOP Will Prosor to film sus­pended in mid air while Mike and Dave rap­pelled along­side him. Will also had the op­por­tu­nity to setup a 50m wire cam, film by drone in­side the cave, and shoot in spa­ces less than a foot-wide in places! He loved it.

Pure phys­i­cal ex­haus­tion was ac­tu­ally the big­gest strug­gle through­out this process. The gear is heavy; the wet­suits tight and con­strain­ing, the ter­rain is in­cred­i­bly phys­i­cal and dif­fi­cult. We filmed in Luckie Strike twice – un­der­ground from sun up to sun down – on Satur­days, which al­lowed us to rest on the Sun­day film­ing in­ter­views or in Ju­nior; the small muddy hole of a cave, which had far eas­ier ac­cess and less phys­i­cal ter­rain. When we met Mike and Dave, two crazy charis­matic men who spent most of their wak­ing hours trapped in­side a muddy claus­tro­pho­bic space try­ing to con­nect it to the stun­ning spa­cious Lucky Strike cav­ern, we knew we had our story.

I have al­ways been in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate about the out­doors, spend­ing as much time as I can ei­ther rock climb­ing, hik­ing, or ex­plor­ing. When I was in­tro­duced to the world of cav­ing last year, my mind was blown. I wanted to show peo­ple a world that was so much more, a world they couldn’t imag­ine right be­neath their feet. One with un­der­ground wa­ter­falls, mas­sive foot­ball field sized cav­erns, stun­ning for­ma­tions, ad­ven­ture and beauty. It was so much more then I imag­ined and I knew I wanted to make a story ex­plor­ing this unique sub cul­ture and the in­cred­i­ble peo­ple that I found within it.

En­ter into the world of cav­ing, one of New Zealand’s qui­etest sub-cul­tures to hear some of the closely guarded secrets of the sub­ter­ranean world; and dis­cover a story of friend­ship, trust, per­sis­tence in the face of per­ilous dan­ger and a child­like ob­ses­sion with crawl­ing around in the mud.

Top: dave El­la­cott in Jr - Bot­tom Left: Team photo - Bot­tom Right: Mike and Dave in Luckie Check it out at ad­ven­turemagazine.co.nz/luckie-strike

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