When, where, why and how did you make your first skydive?
My first jump was back on May 15th 1998 in Taft, CA. Air Adventures West. It was a tandem jump. A few days short of my 30th birthday a small group of friends and family organized it as a surprise. I didn’t know anything about it until I was on the DZ. I knew then that I was going to find a way to do this more.
How many total jumps do you have and how many of these are camera jumps?
I have approximately 20,000 jumps and I would say at least 99% are with cameras. Unfortunately I’m not a detailed logger. I’ve won 3 World Championships and 6 U.S. National Championship in Skysurfing as Cameraflier. I’m the head photographer at Skydive Perris and for the P3 Organization.
What canopies do you jump and why?
I jump a PD Spectre 120 and a PD Storm 107. Both with Dacron lines. I participate in all types of skydiving and usually with large groups. Both the Spectre and the Storm are very reliable with soft on heading openings. I have over 10,000 consecutive jumps with no parachute malfunctions on this types of canopies.
How did you get into camera flying and what do you love about it?
I have been into photography since my father introduced me to it when I was 6 years old. My education is mainly in photography but I never really found my niche until I started jumping. On that first tandem jump I know as soon as my camera guy swooped in front of me I wanted to shoot skydiving. I’m so stoked that I was able to marry my passion of photography with an amazing activity like skydiving.
How long have you been based at Skydive Perris?
I’ve been jumping full time out of Skydive Perris since mid 1997.
What is it about Skydive Perris that makes you want to work and play here?
Perris is the best place for me to do my business from since We are jumping most every day of the year, we host numerous record events and its proximity to Hollywood opens many opportunities to work on film and TV productions.
Do you remember your first ever camera jump? What did you film and what camera’s did you use?
I was told I needed 100 jumps before I could jump with a camera, so on jump 101 I made my first video jump. A JVC 8 mm camcorder mounted on top of a ProTec with a chin strap off an old football helmet to lock it on. There was a team of young jumper on the DZ doing 4 way. I fit right in their price range, Free! Just so happened they were all girls too. Little did I know I’d find my wife on that skydive. Our first skydive together of many. But I didn’t wow her with my video skills on that jump. I will say that I had them dead center in frame the entire jump. Too bad I was slightly high on them. You could almost make out that there were 4 jumpers. I’ve since shown some improvements in my 4way.
What skydiving discipline do you most enjoy filming?
I enjoy filming every discipline of skydiving from CRW, belly flying, free flying, and wingsuiting but the lost art of skysurfing is my favorite by far. I wish it was something that jumpers still were interested in.
Do you have a favorite photo that you’ve taken?
I don’t have that one single photo that I consider a favorite. I’m always hoping to improve my techniques and feel my photography continues to improve. I’d like to think that my next photo will be better than the last.
You’ve worked on numerous commercials, TV’s shows and movies, can you name a few for us?
I feel quite lucky to be involved with TV and Feature Film work. The movie jobs are what I really get a kick out of doing. I’ve worked on some really fun movies like Iron Man 1 and 3, The Bucket List, Kingsman, Godzilla, The Hang Over 3, Point Break (the most recent), Charlie’s Angels, Stealth and a few more.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on so far, and why?
Each project has its own challenges and getting the Director what they are asking for is always the goal. For the feature film Stealth I was trying to shoot Stuntman Tim Rigby falling from 30,000ft strapped to a ejection seat. They wanted very specific shots but the chair had a mind of its own. We got some great stuff but it was a challenge to get exactly what our director was asking for.
What advice do you have for anyone who is looking to start flying camera?
My advice for anyone wanting to start cameraflying would be to work on your flying skills first and get comfortable with the camera equipment before jumping it and always seek out a experienced free fall camera person to help guide you through the learning process.
When you’re not skydiving, how do you like to spend your spare time?
When I’m not jumping I like to spend my time with my wife and two daughters or out shooting photography of landscapes or other sporting activities.
Tell us something that is little known about your yourself?
If I told you something that’s little known about me it wouldn’t be little known anymore J
What’s on the cards for Craig O’Brien in 2016?
As for 2016, I’m looking forward to numerous events here at Perris and abroad. P3 will rev-up right after a season of Canadian Skyhawks training. P3 will be organizing their 3 May events, Power Play in June, then 16- 60 way in Sept. The Skyhawks do 8 weeks of training that I’m honored to have been part of for the past 18 years. Bigway Boogie in Ecuador 2nd week in March. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have another story or 2 about fun movie projects.