Tag Archives: circus

IRATA Rope Access – Why?

I recently completed an IRATA Level 1 rope access technician course. Quite a few people have asked why I did this. First of all, I am not leaving film and TV production.
I did the course because I really enjoy the circus filming work that I do. Being a rope access technician is going to make it easier for me to get up into the rigging of a big top or circus installation for different camera angles. I’ve never had an issue working at height, whether from a tall crane filming a motor race, operating from a scaffold tower or from a tall building. I had previously do a working at hight course, so this seemed to be the next step.

I have also developed my own cable cam system and I now have a better understanding of how to rig ropes safely. I’m also developing a camera system that can be lowered over big drops such as cliffs or tall buildings plus I’m studying circus rigging as well as show and event rigging. Being able to rig lights from trusses safely is a useful skill.

In addition I hope that it might bring in some work on other productions where there is a need to get camera operator to unusual spots using just ropes. Stunts often use rope access techniques. Plus it keeps me fit!

My IRATA level 1 rope access qualification allows me to do many things with ropes. But rope access work needs at least 2 people to be safe. There should always be someone capable of carrying out a rescue in an emergency as often you end up working in a position that even the emergency services are unlikely to be able to get to, certainly not quickly. If someone gets into trouble and ends up hanging in their harness for an extended period, just hanging there immobile can quickly become life threatening due to something called suspension trauma. So all rope access technicians are trained how perform the rescue of another technician and always work under a level 3 technician.

From a more personal point of view I also find many of the techniques used in rope access and climbing quite fascinating.


Another subject I love to film is contemporary circus and other similar performing arts. I have been luck enough to have been the main cameraman for the Theatre and Circus fields at the Glastonbury festival for the past few years and this has given me many wonderful opportunities to meet some truly amazing performers.

I’m not afraid of heights which helps and I’m certified for working at heights and not afraid to climb up into the big top rigging to get the best shots if that’s what’s needed. This year I hope to get my IRATA rope access technician level 1 qualification to help me gain access to even more extreme locations.