One Man’s Fight With Fear, a Documentary Short

Battling acrophobia before a first parachute jump in a film by Philipp Yuryev.

Every parachutist, even the most experienced with thousands of jumps under their belt, will tell you that he remembers his first. The moment you step outside the plane, you experience something that can hardly be expressed in words and that irrevocably changes you. In this short film, director Philipp Yuryev sought to capture exactly this moment of personal transformation: “I wanted to literally see this change in someone’s eyes. At first, fear, and then – rebirth.”

Philipp accidentally met his film’s protagonist during a shoot at the Gatchina aeroclub. His name was Vlad and he was terrified of heights to the point of experiencing vertigo when climbing ladders or looking out windows. In order to overcome his fear, Vlad set out to perform a parachute jump. His uneasiness during the training caught Philipp’s eye: “I could only imagine what Vlad would feel in front of the open plane door – looking into the abyss – and how he would find the strength to step forward.”

According to Philipp, the whole story worked out by chance: “We only had to follow our protagonist with the camera and try not to miss a thing.” The moment of Vlad’s hesitation on the plane right before the jump is the true heart of the film. Even after going through all the rigorous training, he faltered for a second before making the final step. According to Philipp, Vlad couldn’t find the words to describe what had happened to him in the sky afterward.