Demolishing a 3,000 Foot Bridge

blog post photoBy: Stefan Wiesen, Director of Photography

Shooting for “3,000 Foot Bridge” presented some major challenges to me. First and foremost, it was rainy and cold. Everybody who has the sunny postcard pictures of nice Mediterranean beaches and sun-flooded romantic cityscapes in mind, be reminded: the North Italian winter can be miserable. I had been in way more unfavorable conditions as a cameraman, but the problem was that the weather affected the demolition process of the bridge. The major challenge was the water level of the river. For the work to progress, a somewhat consistent water level was required. The length of the hydraulic- operated towers that were supposed to lift the middle part of the bridge had to be precisely engineered within a few inches. One can imagine that on-and-off heavy rain creates a big fluctuation of the river’s water level; it was sometimes several feet within a day! Plans changed hourly, and it was difficult for us to keep up. “What’s happening now?” was our common question.

A lot of the work took place in aerial lifts or on barges, which had to be accessed on very narrow and long wooden boards. These boards would bend suspiciously when I balanced on it with my $55K camera, the river Po several feet below me.

Not to forget the knee-deep mud: everyone on the film crew got stuck, so we had to “rescue” each other regularly – until the rescuer himself had to be rescued! I rarely took a shower by myself at the end of a shooting day: the tripod and some camera accessories were so muddy they always needed cleaning under the shower as well.

But all the hard work was very rewarding. Besides the overall exciting project, we had excellent food. No fast food in sight! Everything was freshly cooked and tasty, whether it was a quick lunch along the highway (yes, that’s right) or the daily breakfast.

For the full story, be sure to tune in to Break it Down: 3,000 Foot Bridge tonight at 10P et/pt. Can’t Wait? Here’s a sneak peak from tonight’s premiere: