Freerunning5 min

Wild freerun: well, that's one way to escape the city

Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind, Krystian Kowalewski heads into the wilderness for his latest freerunning project.
Written by Krystian WalczakPublished on
If you check out the latest freerunning movie with Krystian Kowalewski in the player above, you'll discover that parkour is about far more than just overcoming obstacles in the city. Filmed in the forests near the historic town of Jelenia Góra in Poland, the entire crew spent three days capturing Kowalewski as he performed a series of jumps and tricks across the varied terrain.
We met up with the Polish freerunner to find out more about the film and discover why he chose to showcase his ability away from the concrete jungle.
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Why did you choose to film in the Rudawy Janowickie mountain range?
We were actually supposed to film in a completely different place, but unfortunately we didn't get permission, so the film crew from the Flying Carpet Studio found a replacement that everyone liked. They documented the best places to jump and shoot the movie. They were great at selecting places, as they have a parkour team, so they knew exactly what to look for.
We set up our base in Jelenia Góra and from there we could scout the best locations. Some of them were difficult to access, so we had to go trekking. The longest route was about 40 minutes and we even had to climb up the mountains a bit.
What are your main memories of the trips into the mountains?
It was hard, but also a lot of fun. We were filming from the morning right through until dark and on top of that there was a lot of walking in the mountains on uneven terrain, so it was a challenge. But watching the final footage, I can see that it was worth it. There was also a high risk of injury, because the terrain was much more difficult than in the city where I usually train. It was fun, though, I liked it a lot.
There was quite a lot of spontaneity and that's what I like about freerunning projects
Krystian Kowalewski is pictured during the making of Wild Freerun in the Rudawy Janowickie mountain range in Poland.
Getting creative
Virtually all freerunning takes place in the city, so what was it like to film on a mountainside?
I'm actually from a small town, so I used to train on grass in the forest near where I lived, but it was never mountain terrain. I'd thought about making a movie like this before, but it was a lot harder than I expected – mainly because of the uneven ground, which was littered with stones and roots. On the other hand, it was a really cool challenge. It was necessary to come up with unique tricks that would look cool and at the same time showcase the surroundings in a unique way.
In the video, it looks as if there's no one else around on the mountain at all...
It was pretty empty. There's one moment in the movie where climbers appear, but apart from them, we hardly met anyone. All the shots were well planned out, so when we arrived somewhere, we knew what the place would look like, but I didn't know what I was going to jump – we had to figure that out. Then, I would tell the guys what I was going to do, so they could arrange everything for the shot, hide behind the camera and record.
The way you talk about the film gives the impression that a lot of things were created spontaneously, so did recording require a lot of creative thinking?
There was quite a lot of spontaneity and that's what I like about freerunning projects. When we go out to train in the city, we find a spot and think about what we can do on it – how we can use it in a unique way. I prefer something like this to endless planning. But we also had moments where I talked about something with the camera operator, because he also had to jump. He gave me advice on what would look cool, so we worked really closely together.
Krystian Kowalewski is pictured during the filming of Wild Freerun in the Rudawy Janowickie mountain range in Poland.
Freerunning in the mountains combined with trekking was exhausting
Were there some places you had to go back to in order to get the right shot?
Not really. When we arrived at one location, we tried our best to get absolutely everything. The weather did make this difficult, as on the first day it was raining and we were afraid filming might be cut short. That's why we shot as fast and as much as possible in every location.
Were there many fails or any tricks that you had to do over and over again?
There were some tricks that took a while to land, but luckily there wasn't one that I completely failed. I had a few slips and one time I hit a branch quite hard with my knee. In the making of video there's a clip where I wipe my leg because my knee is bleeding a bit, but other than that, luckily nothing serious happened.
What were some of the difficulties of recording in the forest?
It would have been easier if I had spare shoes. The ones I had, I bought literally a week before we left and after the project they were already ruined. The stones were really sharp and the shoes did have really good grip, but they started to break apart quickly.
The real difficulty we had was the uneven surface itself. Roots and tiny pebbles protruded everywhere and you had to be really careful where you landed, so as not to twist an ankle. It was probably the biggest challenge. This and the trekking. Jumping and walking through the mountains all day is seriously tough.
Krystian Kowalewski is pictured during the filming of Wild Freerun in Poland.
Krystian Kowalewski
Did you enjoy getting back to nature and filming somewhere different?
I'm a fan of nature and I really could have stayed there. I even told the guys that I would come back one day. It's a great place to be alone with yourself and to train in slightly tougher conditions. It's a really cool place.
Do you often go freerunning outside of the city?
Not as often as I would like, but when I can, I try. When I get away from the city, I like to take a break and go somewhere where I can be alone with my thoughts and feel a sense of calmness. I don't do much hiking in the mountains, but I like being surrounded by nature.
Krystian Kowalewski is pictured in the forests of  Rudawy Janowickie during the filming of Wild Freerun in Poland.
Into the wild
It's always fun going on on trips like this, do you have any anecdotes from filming?
This was my first time working with a guy who records using racing drones. It was the first time we'd met, so I didn't know what to expect and neither did he. Once a drone flew at my feet and I ended up falling over, not because of the drone, but because I got scared of it. Another time, when I was doing a somersault on top of the rocks, the drone flew over my head and I got scared. One wrong step to the right or left and it would have been over. Fortunately, it ended well and the drone definitely captured some amazing stuff. It was stressful, though.
So, will you ever work with drones again or have you been scared off?
I would love to experiment with them, but in a different environment – maybe somewhere in the city. When I'm somewhere really high, a place where I can die if I put a foot wrong, if I do a somersault and something is flying around me, I'm not sure I want to repeat that experience. In a more controlled environment – in the city – I would love to as the footage it produced looked incredible.