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China - The Beginning

Written by  
Iiro Seppänen

Journey to the Center

Happens in China

Journey……

with three world-renowned BASE jumpers as they travel 10,000 miles by airplane, river boat and 4×4 truck…

To…

…confront the mist and mystery of an old cave, an ancient culture, and their own demons at…

The Center…

…of their dangerous mission: Tian Keng, the Heavenly Pit.

 

This blog is all about momentum

It is about how one success, one mission accomplished, or one event conquered can set off a chain reaction of triumphs that shape an entire life or career.

Back in 2005, we were just laying the groundwork for 3777. Our philosophy of living in the moment wasn’t limited to sports; it extended into the arts and all aspects of life.

For an artist, courage is key. It’s about coming up with ideas, trusting the creative process, embracing uncertainty, taking risks, and learning from failure.

Now, I’ll be honest, I can’t carry a tune or dance to save my life, but my artistic passion has always been film. That’s what drove me to produce my first movie.

At 3777, we’ve always been about pushing boundaries and taking risks. While my earlier exploits were physical, venturing into art and filmmaking brought a whole new set of challenges and thrills.

The turning point came when Jeb showed me a jaw-dropping picture of a high wire walker over a massive cave in China. His excitement was infectious as he described the sheer audacity needed to pull off such a stunt.

“Dude, you won’t believe how incredible this place is. We scouted it out, and trust me, it’s epic. The landing spot’s tiny, surrounded by boulders. There are rapids, power lines, and snakes below. If anything goes wrong, it’s a two-day journey to the nearest hospital. We’ve gotta go back, jump it, and make a film.”

While I wasn’t keen on jumping myself, capturing the adventure on camera sounded thrilling. I was in.

Jeb rounded up his buddies Paul and Douggs, and soon we were off on an unforgettable journey. 

Three days navigating the Yangtze River, past the imposing Three Gorges Dam, and through landscapes soon to be flooded. We visited quaint villages where Westerners were a rarity. Locals were curious about us and eager to share their stories.

After days of traveling, we arrived at Tian Keng. The place was even more breathtaking in person than in pictures.

 

China documentary about three BASE jumper and Heavenly pit.

Guinness Book of World Records in China

Our inspiration came from a glimpse in the Guinness Book of World Records, where we found remnants of a high wire act. The same cable used by the daredevil was our ticket to adventure.

Hanging midway along the cable, 666 meters above the ground, jumpers could enjoy over 10 seconds of freefall before opening their parachutes. As they moved along the cable, it produced a resonant twang, reminiscent of the iconic laser gun sounds in the Star Wars movies. This was no coincidence; the sound designer Ben Burtt had used recordings of a steel cable being struck to create those familiar sci-fi effects.

Watching the jumpers leap into the abyss sent shivers down my spine. With each successful landing, relief flooded over me. BASE jumping landings are often challenging, but this one was particularly interesting. The landing zone was riddled with house-sized boulders, power lines, Class V rapids, and even poisonous snakes. A small mistake could be costly, and navigating such treacherous terrain demanded immense skill and precision.

With limited resources, we relied on repeated jumps to capture every moment on film. Despite the challenges, every jumper emerged unscathed.

Fast forward to post-production: Piecing together the footage into a documentary was another test of our resolve. “Journey to the Center” didn’t just win awards; it became our calling card. It opened doors, paving the way for collaborations in China’s entertainment scene.

If I were to measure the success of this project solely by the revenue generated from the movie, it might seem like a disappointment. However, looking beyond the scope of just one film, it served as the spark for numerous ventures yet to come. It injected us with the momentum we needed to propel forward.

In our quest for distribution in China, it didn’t just open a door; it unveiled an entire pathway to the future. It was there that I crossed paths with a local business partner who shared my ambitious dreams.

“Journey to the Center” and our ensuing partnership didn’t just mark a milestone; they ignited the birth of competitive wingsuit flying and sparked a series of unforgettable events throughout China.

Momentum is a powerful force.

When we embarked on this journey, we had no idea where it would lead. What started as a daring high wire act evolved into a documentary, which then paved the way for groundbreaking collaborations. Each step forward generated new opportunities, showing us that the key to success often lies in our ability to keep moving, to keep pushing forward despite the odds. You never know when you start one thing where it might lead, but with determination and momentum, the possibilities are endless.

Relive the Magic of the Story

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