PIG’s chief of chaos sits down with LBB to talk quarantine, Covid-19, remote production and life under a new “normal”

This month, PIG Chief Chaos Officer (and MD) Nick Dodet spoke with LBB’s Natasha Patel about Covid-19 and the production industry. He believes the West can learn quite a few things from China’s response, and shares innovative ways the team has found to work within all the new restrictions.

As the western world grapples with the pandemic, China has lifted most sanctions, and the Chinese production scene is slowly finding its place in a new “normal”. Nick shares his views on the whole situation with LBB.

Excerpts from the interview below.

What’s the current situation in China with production?

Production is kind of coming back to normal right now. In the past week there’ve been a lot of shoots after we saw a few in early March, then some more mid-month. There were a lot of restrictions but fewer and fewer now compared to in March when we could apply and get a permit to shoot in a public location, but if any of the local residents felt unsafe , they would call the cops and shut us down. No questions asked. Now it’s mostly getting better and we can pretty much shoot from anywhere.

Did you come across any interesting ways to get around the restrictions?

We started developing more remote shooting where clients and agencies would remain in China and a crew would shoot in, let’s say, South Africa and everything would be watched live back over here.

Now it’s been completely flipped around in that foreigners are not allowed to enter China at the moment – even if they possess a green card. At the moment we’ve got jobs confirmed with foreign agencies, production companies and clients who they can’t shoot where they are, so they will shoot in China remotely. We’re getting more of these requests, which are basically in a living room in the West and on the set here in China.

What can companies around the world learn from China’s experience of Covid-19 and coming out the other end of it?

You’ve got to make yourself small, if you’re not working you have no revenue so you have to weather the storm. Just keep your chin up because eventually things get better. What allowed us to get out of that first wave so quickly is that it literally came down with a hammer and everybody was wearing masks in public and shutting down public transportation. It was literally ghost town all over the country.

You always have opportunities in these times and the opportunity to test new technology and find new angles. I hear a lot of foreign clients are trying to produce homemade films where they’re asking the agencies to find ways for people to take selfies. Long term that’s probably not that viable. What we offer foreign clients right now is to shoot films over here for them and they direct from abroad. In the West they’ll come up with new ways of running sets, I think there’ll be quite a bit of remote work that’ll happen way past the pandemic.

To read the full interview, click here (external link).

Climbkhana 2: PIG teams up with Ken Block & Hoonigan Media

Racer Ken Block‘s latest drift blockbuster “Climbkhana 2: Heaven’s Gate Road” was released globally on November 18th. The film was produced by Hoonigan Media Machine with the collaboration of PIG. Great work everyone!

Watch the full film here.

Some feared 2018’s Gymkhana TEN marked the end of automotive’s largest viral video franchise, but Ken Block is back with the second installment of the acclaimed series’ spin-off Climbkhana, presented by Toyo TiresForza Motorsport and Omaze. This time, Block and the Hoonigan Media Machine, supported by PIG, traveled to one of the world’s most dangerous roads, located deep in the heart of China, with his 914 horsepower Ford F-150 Hoonitruck to film Climbkhana TWO: Heaven’s Gate Road

About five years ago, I found a photo on the internet of this crazy road made of multiple switch backs that actually crossed over itself,” says Ken Block. “Before I even discovered where in the world it was, I knew we had to go film there. As we did more research, I realized we may have found the greatest road ever. It’s like a European tarmac rally stage-but turned out to 11-and, it’s set in a wild scene that looks stolen right out of the movie Avatar. ” 

Located in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China, in a region that actually did inspire James Cameron’s 2009 epic Sci-Fi film, the Heaven’s Gate Mountain Highway (天门山公路)climbs 11 Kilometers across a ribbon of concrete that bends over 99 times through lush foliage and precariously located cliff drops. It’s considered so dangerous that the public is forbidden to drive on it. And while similar in basic design to the location for the first film: Pikes Peak, this road is almost half as wide in most places, and the consequences way more frightening. 

Over the past couple years, a few other projects have been filmed in the region, but we really wanted to bring our unique style of filmmaking and Ken Block’s wild driving to this road to show it in a way it hasn’t been seen before” says Climbkhana TWO’s Director Brian Scotto. “This road is amazing, but also very unforgiving, which ironically is its best attribute.

Of all of Ken Block’s vehicles, the Hoonitruck seemed the least suited for this incredibly narrow road, which at some points is skinnier than the highly modified, AWD truck is long. But its massive proportions, only make the feat ever more impressive.

The juxtaposition of this massive American pickup truck and that tiny road was just too perfect, even if it made it way harder and sketchier to for me to drive,” says Block.  

5 Red Cameras, 2 drones, and over 20 GoPros ran simultaneously to capture Ken Block’s breathtaking driving prowess…