In early 2018 Katerina Soldatou finally realised her dream of performing on the largest and most celebrated modern bridge in Greece – Rio Antirrion Bridge. The bridge itself is a marvel of modern engineering, spanning the Corinthian gulf for almost 3km, and built to withstand the strong winds and currents found at the isthmus to the gulf. It has created a passage for locals and non locals, and bridged the peloponnese with Central Greece providing a more efficient route to the Northern territories.
Katerina’s goal was to hang under the highest part of the bridge and do her thing. The problems faced were not unexpected but also not easy to overcome. Bureaucracy is Greece’s favourite method of communication and we were in no shortage of it. Phone calls and emails to the management of the bridge, and the coast guard, and the crew made this mission much more “official” than some of the others we’ve undertaken. Nonetheless the result was clear, and the doors had been opened to slay the beast.
We began by setting up the outdoor shoot, rigging Katerina’s ropes from the outer railing of the paved topside. Vassilis Theodorou was once again in the hot seat. After a couple hours the rigging was set and we were on schedule to start rolling. Katerina did her warmup exercises, while pacing nervously up and down the pavement. Once it was time, Vassili strapped her in, and once again she gave him her full trust and attention before being lowered down below the deck, carrying the 40kg of white fabric down with her.
Spiro was on the ground, over by the Northern side of the bridge, ready to take off, while I was dangling over Katerina close to the rigging point for a birds eye view shot.
The scene was set. She was ready to go. She dropped the fabric, and locked into the zone, moving effortlessly it seemed through manoeuvres and positions, dancing with the fabric as if it was an extension of her body. Tourists gathered to watch, and boats came close to see the action. Meanwhile the drone was circling around her capturing every moment of this beautiful performance until….
The drone went out of sight, under the bridge, and Badios was now flying completely blind. After a few attempts to get it into sight, he decided to press the Return to Home Button, sending the drone on an epic adventure to try and find its way back to him. Whilst Spiro couldn’t see anything, the drone was actually still filming. First it tried to go up over the giant bridge pillar, as it’s designed to do. It tried a few times but kept skimming the undercarriage of the bridge, until finally disaster struck. The propellers hit a steel beam which sent them flying off into the wind, and the drone began a spiral descent to its watery grave. With no chance of flying properly, it was doomed to a life of salty short circuits, and little chance of retrieval. But wait! Out of nowhere – the steel safety platform, only 2x3m wide, was fixed to the side of the pillar. And the drone falls perfectly onto the platform, almost perfectly upright! Katerina was the first to notice it, still hanging below the deck, fabric flying in the wind, and as soon as we all saw it, we literally couldn’t believe our eyes. Had the drone been lost we would have had to redo the entire performance, and the light was dying and the wind was picking up… it would have been a disaster.
We packed up all the gear and headed back to the base building for a regroup. With the knowledge that the drone was now safe, we began our next mission, a second performance inside the belly of one of the giant hollow pillars. We would be about 40m below sea level, inside the giant steel tubes that form the base of the bridge. Vassili began rigging again, while the rest of us planned out our positions and took some all important instagram pics for our stories.
Once we were ready, Katerina lowered herself into the void, and began moving into position. The space was a complete contrast to the previous performance, and felt more like a giant fishbowl than a contemporary feet of engineering. The echoes were endless, and any sound was amplified to the point of being almost too much to handle.
Then, when everyone was dead quiet, Katerina starts singing. She busts out this version of “I put a spell on you”, right there, 40m above the bottom of the tower, in the fishbowl, with echoes going nuts, and everyone completely captivated by the sound. Kudos for that!
She wrapped up the performance with some beautiful moves, giving us, the camera guys, a chance to capture some last different shots from different locations within the tower.
Once we packed up and surfaced back up onto the bridge, and Spiro had retrieved his slightly destroyed drone from the platform, we gathered by the base building for a final debrief and a quick look at some of the shots. We knew instantly we had got something unique, spectacular and beautiful. The mission was complete, and no one had a bigger smile on their face than Katerina.
Huge thanks to everyone involved – Katerina Soldatou, Spiros Badios, Vassilis Theodorou, Giorgos Gerolimos, Haris Sfakianakis & Orestis Zoompos
You guys rock!