Tom Cruise ‘Mission Impossible’ Stunt Breakdown

Posted on Jul 17, 2015 by Alex Fice

When we first saw this amazing stunt from Tom Cruise’s new MI: Rogue Nation movie, we couldn’t believe it was real, but it looked real…

The UK’s Helicopter Film Services were involved in the stunt so we asked their Senior Engineer Ollie Ward to explain how it all went down.

1. Where was the scene shot?

On board an Airbus A400M out of RAF Wittering.

2. What camera and gimbal was used?

SUPER G with an Arri 435, 1000ft magazine and Panavision Anamorphic primes.

3. What special rigging was used to attach to the plane and shoot backwards towards Cruise?

There was an extensive frame work that fitted to the internal cargo floor of the A400M, that supported the SuperG through the side windows (which had been removed).

We also engineered an aerodynamic baffle to reduce the loads on the SuperG, this wasn’t a structural concern, it was done to assist the stabilisation of the camera and to reduce the torque on the motors.

4. What kind of shot were you after, wide open or a faster t-stop?

The production was keen for the widest lens we could support, anamorphic, everything else was quite a standard approach

5. Did he really do eight takes?

We did one ground test with a mannequin, which involved max acceleration to take off speed followed by full emergency stop.

Never been in an aircraft of this scale and felt the ABS (auto braking system/anti lock) in play!

Then one take with a mannequin, one with a stunt double and then a number with Tom, I believe they did further takes with him without the SuperG fitted – brave guy. He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself….

 HFS's SuperG Gimbal with an Arri 435 film camera on-board.  HFS’s SuperG Gimbal with an Arri 435 film camera on-board.

6. Was this a first for the company to shoot someone attached to a plane for t/off? How long did he stay attached?

We haven’t done anything on this scale of aircraft – simply a huge piece of kit, plenty of stuff has been done on much smaller aircraft.

One of the main worries for the stunt coordinator was damage to eyes due to wind pressure and bringing a person inside if there was a problem. In the end the SuperG actually reduced the wind pressure on Tom Cruise as it acted as a wind brake.

There was an option to bring the engine directly up wind of him to flight idle to reduce wind pressures but not sure if this actually happened.

Each take was a takeoff, tight circuit (Max 1000ft) and landing,  so less than 5mins.

It was a great joint effort by the production team securing and protecting Tom and all the camera kit sitting around him. But, it was an amazing and brave effort by the man himself.

7. Anything else interesting about the shoot.

We were working with the special effects dept (who built the frame work to support the SuperG. But took our instructions from Camera Dept (DOP/Operator). Tom was handled by Stunts and there was a separate set of hardware for securing Tom.

All pics below © Ollie Ward


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