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International, independent, e-magazine on skydiving, BASE & tunnel

Educating for a SAFER world

by Chris 'Douggs' McDougall
by Chris 'Douggs' McDougall

Lack of knowledge can be fatal, as I mentioned before, in Preventing Death. It follows that education can be a route to preventing deaths. In another article, Keep it Simple-y SOPHISTICATED, I suggested that the way to improve safety lies in education, not legislation. Yet we must teach in a way that people want to be learn, by creating quality content that draws them in but has underlying educational content.

If you produce content, be it video, text or in other forms, you are a potential educator and influencer, whether you like it or not


If you produce content, be it video, text or in other forms, you are a potential educator and influencer, whether you like it or not. If you’re not happy with this then don’t produce content – it’s that simple. If you’re going to produce content then you should consider its educational and influential aspects. Educating others might just save some lives.

Video Content

Video is a great medium for sharing our messages and educational content. Online distribution has now made this remarkably simple.  As well as the amazing videos that some of the best jumpers produce showing the sport progressing, pushing the limits and stepping outside of our comfort zones, we must go further. We must add to these with the real true-life stories that highlight the complexity, how we minimise the risks and keep things as simple as possible. We must show the planning, the intricacies, the backstory and the detail. We must show that what we portray as simple can often be far from it, with a multitude of complexity drawn together in a detailed web of production. Providing this backstory in an enticing manner will inevitably provide additional content that people will want to watch.

Simple Highlights

When my team, Jump4Heroes, flew our wingsuit formation from the Eiger we produced two videos. The first video showed the short, sharp action edit that the YouTube generation will watch and share. We made it look as simple as we could with a video team from RAW Productions that were then able to cut the footage to produce a dramatic and impactful short film.

Nerve-wracking climb, scarier than the jump — by Douggs, a video screenshot
Nerve-wracking climb, scarier than the jump — by Douggs, a video screenshot

Complexity Story

But the same team also produced a longer, behind-the-scenes edit. It showed the characters, the detail, the practice jumps and the planning. It got into the characters involved, allowing the audience to relate to the wingsuit pilots as real people. It showed that this wasn’t an easy project for us to achieve and was something that we’d had to work at. We didn’t hide our mistakes or the incidents we had along the way. We opened ourselves up, we were honest and, in doing so, provided interesting yet educational content. While the shorter film made the formation wingsuit flight from the Eiger look simple, this longer edit demonstrated that it was far more complex.

Flying The Eiger: Making Of Jump4Heroes Eiger Wingsuit Formation BASE Jump - Extreme.

The Benefit

For those of you producing these videos, there’s something in it for you as well. While our short film, which we promoted more heavily, has more views on YouTube than the longer edit, the analytics show another interesting fact. The minutes watched of our longer film is significantly higher relative to the views. We engage the audience for longer and retain them on the page.

The effort to produce these videos isn’t large. If you’re making a video anyway, to keep the camera rolling to generate the extra content required doesn’t add that much extra work. It is a cost effective and efficient way of operating. If we’re going to educate rather than legislate then let’s get out there and take our own rad, epic videos and show the complexity that is really behind the skill and effort that goes into making them.

Alternative Content

Of course, this form of content isn’t the only one we can use. The bloopers and uncut footage all add value too. But cutting this content into a story that people can really associate themselves with resonates deeper and has a better chance of ensuring the message is received. There’s also a wealth of other content that’s more educational in its outset. An example of this might be my TEDx talk, below. While it’s not focussed towards the skydiving and Base jumping audience, it can still add some limited value there. All of these styles of content have their benefits and, in truth, a combination of all is where the value is really added. Next time you’re filming some crazy video just take a few minutes to think if there’s an educational message you can incorporate. If what you’re doing really is that bad ass then show your back story too. Your fans and followers will appreciate it and get to really understand what you’re about.

An inspirational talk by Al Macartney, starting with a Base first.

Alastair is invited to jump from the 217 feet high Liberty Memorial World War One Museum in Kansas City.

Impossible Leaps by Alastair Macartney at TEDxKC.

Open and Honest

Base jumping, while unregulated, doesn’t need to be as unapologetic, irreverent, underground and anti-establishment as perhaps it once was. On occasions, it can be open and honest as well and provide quality content that shows the up-and-coming jumper the complexities of what we do. You never know, you might just get a few more views on YouTube and perhaps you might provide that little bit of influence that could just save the life of a new jumper that doesn’t quite understand all of the complexities.

Jump4Heroes flying the Eiger — by Chris 'Douggs' McDougall
Jump4Heroes flying the Eiger — by Chris 'Douggs' McDougall