Icarus Rises

Water Powered Jetpack Turns Man into Sea Monster in Thomas Giddings' Futuristic Short

Rising imperiously from the waves, making jet-propelled dolphin jumps and backwards somersaults, professional stuntman Arran Topham appears as a waterborne Ironman in filmmaker Thomas Giddings’ new short, Icarus. Taking its name from the Greek myth of the child who flew too close to the sun and fell to a watery death, the film stars Topham—who has appeared in The Bourne Ultimatum, X-Men: First Class and the upcoming Bond movie Skyfall—performing delphine acrobatics made possible by the Flyboard. Invented by world champion jet-ski racer Franky Zapata, the luxurious high-tech toy is designed simply for pleasure, allowing anyone to connect with their inner Flipper. “I found out about this machine and flew to Marseilles, where Zapata is based, because I just thought it was so insane,” Giddings recounts. “It has this otherworldly quality; it’s blowing the boundaries between flying and swimming, and as soon as I saw it I wanted to capture it.” During monochrome downpours on the UK’s Dorset coast, the director filmed from a small boat through dusk and dawn to capture the overcast sci-fi footage. For his next project Giddings is journeying deeper into the hidden world of stuntmen, documenting their lives behind the Hollywood scenes for a solo exhibition and book to launch in London and Los Angeles next year.

STATS FROM ON SET

Location
Poole harbor, Dorset.

Distance to the Sea of Crete where, according to Greek myth, Icarus drowned 
2,318 miles.

Highest altitude reached
Eight meters.

Minimum depth of water required to operate
2.5 meters.

Highest velocity in the air/underwater
Ten knots/4 knots.

Horsepower
300.

Volume of water ejected by Flyboard
1,000 liters a minute.

Flyboard cost
$10,000.

Number of times Topham had flown the Flyboard before filming
Three.

Number of times Tophan had to be pulled out of the water
Two.

Safety team
One local expert and two other stuntmen on jet skis.

Liquid consumed on set
Water.

Climate
Twelve hours of torrential rain.

Time it took to recover
Five days.
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