That time we dangled

Harry Styles out of a helicopter

It’s not every day we get to suspend an A-list celebrity off the bottom of a helicopter. But back in 2017, high above the Isle of Skye, that’s exactly what we did.

The release of Harry Styles’ new single last week got us thinking about the music video we played a key role in creating for him. For the then 23-year-olds debut solo single, ‘Sign of the Times’, we were approached with an unusual request; “Can you make him fly?

We had considerable experience with people abseiling out of our helicopters, however, this had more similarities with our long line lifting work. Transporting heavy loads to hard-to-reach locations. So this would be a first doing this with a human.

For the video, Harry Styles was to soar through the sky, above lush forests and stunning mountains. The former One Direction star was fitted with a harness hidden underneath a large overcoat. A hole cut into the back allowed the line to connect to the harness. The other end is then securely attached to the belly of the helicopter. When it came to flying him through the air, it was relatively simple. Making him run on water, however, required excellent precision and skill.

Two Birds with one Styles

GB Helicopters aerial filming stunt for Harry Styles Sign of the Times music video.
Harry Styles close to the water under G-DCAM

We provided both helicopters for the shoot, which was directed by Yoann Lemoine. One to carry Styles through the air and the other to film it. The two AS355‘s worked in unison to produce some truly beautiful shots. Flown by GB Helicopters Director Will Banks and pilot Hugh Williams, Banks had the arguably better task of flying Harry, while Williams flew the camera ship. Having all the crew from the same team can make a massive difference to a production. Communication and co-ordination are key to an effective aerial filming unit. And a team that knows each other well, produces better shots on fewer takes.

Obviously safety for this project was of the highest priority. Nothing would have taken place if the risks were deemed too high. All equipment, including the helicopter, was thoroughly inspected beforehand and communication between, pilots, ground crew and Harry was paramount. Not just to make sure Styles’ safety was never compromised, but also to achieve the desired shots.

With no green screen and CGI being used (other than to remove the line and harness), it meant that to achieve some of the shots for the video, Styles was flown to a height of around 1,500ft. This might have been a problem, however Harry appeared to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Something which is evident in parts of the video.

The music video would go on to win British Artist Video of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards and Best Music Video at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards. It was also nominated for Best Pop Video and Best Visual Effects at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards.

You can find more information about our aerial filming services here.