Orlando Bloom Pushed Himself for ‘To the Edge.’ So Did the Crew.

Orlando Bloom wanted to push himself for his Peacock docuseries “Orlando Bloom: To the Edge” — but that also meant those along for the shoot were stretching the limits of what they thought themselves capable of, too. After all, how are you going to capture footage of Bloom wingsuiting if you’re not up there with him?

“I was in the plane for most of his jumps, and I’d try to get intimate and close,” cinematographer Doug Glover told IndieWire. (Glover worked on the first two episodes and Gareth Leah did the third.) “You can really see his mental focus. I was able to get a few feet from him, and the first time he jumps with the wingsuit, just watching his facial expressions as he prepares… He’s very calm and quiet, and then he gets very fired up. And then figuring out how to shoot that with the doors open and the wind blowing in and the plane diving.”

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Bloom might be jumping out of a plane, but Glover was the one who stayed in it through its roll, a feat not without its perks. “The plane dives so fast, you can let go of the camera and it’s floating in the air for three seconds,” he said.

“To the Edge” follows Bloom as he pushes himself to excel at wingsuiting (skydiving in a specially constructed suit that mimics a bird’s flight), free diving, and adaptive rock climbing and also doubles as travel porn. While Bloom free dives 100 feet below the surface on one breath, Glover’s camera captures both the feat and the majesty of the ocean.

“I had a lot of conversions with Matt Akers, the co-EP,” Glover said about the look of the series. “You want a very high-end cinematic look, but how do you do that with things that are constantly changing and moving throughout the day?” Initially, the production used mini LF camera bodies and bigger lenses until a few days in, when they saw how fast Bloom moved and pivoted to smaller cameras to keep up. “The goal was to have that doc feel but with a high-end look to it,” Glover said. “He demands a lot, and it’s different when you’re following sort of a regular person doing their job This is now an actor extremely focused on achieving these three goals of his. So we had to be able to move with him and be nimble. That was our ultimate goal, to follow him the way he wanted to be followed and still make a great show and make everybody happy.”

The wingsuiting episode was an elaborate, weeks-long process that offered plenty of opportunities to capture footage. But in the second episode, Bloom trains to set a new personal record free diving, and the crew (and Bloom) only had one shot to get it.

“We shot several days of him training and getting ready so we were able to talk through and rehearse,” Glover said. “It’s a lot of pre-planning and then things change, it’s still real life and weather moves in and it gets dark and you roll with the changes and you make a plan.” For the actual dive, Glover used a combination of surface cameras, just below the surface cameras, and divers following Bloom with cameras. “And we had a newer device, robotically controlled from the surface that can follow a diver from the surface all the way down and back up,” Glover added. “Prior to that, you’d just mount a camera at the very bottom plate and hope it was rolling, and people would dive down and touch the plate, but this camera can track vertically with them the entire route. We only go to use it sporadically, but it was very effective.”

Throughout “To the Edge,” we see Bloom conquering his mental state as much as his physical one with support from partner Katy Perry (her cameos are a constant delight) and his Buddhist practice. Behind the scenes, everyone else was also working on maintaining their stamina alongside Bloom. “I don’t have a mental preparation, I go into it with a plan and then I try not to stress about it too much because I know that plan will completely fall apart,” Glover said. “I’m just good at going with it and trusting that process. I remind myself every day, ‘Have fun today, don’t take it too seriously, you’re going to learn something new every day.’ No matter what the situation is, I’m going to challenge myself. But like Orlando, I try to meditate in the morning and slow myself down a little bit and stay fit and exercise and try to have a lot of fun out there with the crew. It’s just a job.”

But the grueling nature of the work didn’t preclude blowing off steam. “You still have to be a normal person and enjoy yourself at night,” Glover said. “Every day was physically demanding.”

“Orlando Bloom: To the Edge” is now streaming on Peacock.

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