BTS in the Brecon Beacons with Mel Nicholls

Friction Collective filming with Mel Nicholls

Join the team and take a look at some BTS action from Day 1 of filming Dream Big with the incredible Mel Nicholls. Mel is a Great Britain Paralympic Athlete, a total adrenaline junkie, with a passion for adventure. She continues to challenge concepts of the female role, and the adventures possible with disability through her handcycling challenges. Tomorrow Mel will attempt to become the fastest female to handcycle Land’s End to John o’ Groats (LEJOG). She has set herself the goal of completing the grueling 874 miles in just 9 days. The current female Guinness world record stands at 11 days. The male is listed at 10 days. We will be part of the small team supporting her journey, capturing all the action on camera. We are truly honoured to be some of the lucky individuals alongside her.

We will be creating a documentary with the footage, so a few weeks ago we got things started by filming some of Mel’s backstory and training, in order to show an honest portrayal of her personality and everyday life. Where better to get some local & beautiful shots, than the Brecon Beacons?!

We set off early, mugs of coffee in hand, and praised the blue sky gods while Fin steered the ship up the M4. We met up with Mel at our first location, Talybont Reservoir, only to find a new fence had been installed – completely ruining the shot we were looking for, so, after a quick decision to find something better, we moved on to the next location!

Director jack filming with camera outside

Somewhere near Ystradfellte (yep we can’t pronounce it either), there is a wonderful sweeping road, lined with golden moorland & dry stone walls that alongside a small river. Jack came across the perfect valley location while on a walking trip in the area. The minimal traffic and open plains meant Mel would be safe & visible, and Jack could stick the Ronin out the back of the van & get some downhill follow-cam shots, with a beautiful backdrop.

After an interview at the top of the Valley, and a (very) scenic lunch break, we raced it to our final location up on an unnamed road near Cnewr to get the last shots as the sun set. In order to really show the vastness of Brecon, we got the drone out for some mega wide aerial footage. Our own bike even came in handy to capture some moving close-ups of Mel…

Friction collective filming on mountain
Mel Nicholls

Shooting Style

Throughout the shoot we wanted to convey a sense of energy as well as Mel’s personality. Close up shots on the Sony FS7mkii enabled us to capture exceptional detail and emotion. While dramatic and dynamic camera movements were key here to ensure we capture the determination in Mel’s demeanour. The Ronin enabled us to hang out the back of the van and get really fast & dynamic close up shots of Mel while maintaining a smooth image.

Friction Collective filming outside in Wlaes
Mel Nicholls


Paddy has designed the sound, where he has removed any wind & engine noise, and replaced it with ambient details from the day such as birds & streams, cycling & breathing, in order to create intimate & natural audio.

Mel Nicholls interview on mountain

Overall it was a brilliant day filming, and we cannot wait to get on the road with Mel tomorrow! Dream Big is now available to watch on Vimeo. Click here to watch the full film!



You can check out some more behind the scenes from other shoots here.