Making “Pink Skies” by Gulcin Gilbert

In November of 2008, I sat discussing an upcoming world record skydiving event with fellow skydiver, Mary Tortomasi and Lucia Cottone, VP of development for a major cable channel. I had been very impressed with this all women skydiving formation event in 2005, as it seemed to bring out the best in all the women who participated.  It was skydiving with heart and purpose.  A light went on and I looked at Lucia and announced, “Somebody needs to do a documentary about Jump For The Cause (JFTC).  Lucia looked right back at me and responded without missing a beat, “Why don’t you do it?”

I set about gaining access to and filming cancer experts and survivors.  I knew about skydiving but I didn’t know much about breast cancer.  After a few of these interviews, the thread we would follow became apparent, and I made the decision to focus on prevention. In the world of formation skydiving there is an oft repeated caution, “Don’t be a victim.”  This phrase would form the undertone of theme for Pink Skies.

Directing the shoot of the JFTC event was one of the most challenging things that I’ve done as I was also one of the participants.  I’d made an extensive shot list ahead of time and my team, Director of Photography – Zac Heileson and audio – Michael Wine made it happen.  I would make new shot lists on the way to altitude, shifting my thoughts to the jump for the last 15 minutes or so.  When I landed, a production assistant would meet me, take my notes and run them to the camera crew. Then I would grab a microphone and find the next person we needed to interview.  Early morning arrivals to capture sunrises and arrivals, 100+ degree temperatures, multiple jumps and then staying on to cover the evening activities as well, made for long days.

We made three more trailers before we were finally happy.  In the making of each trailer we also clarified our vision for the film because we were highlighting the important points of the film.

In addition to our premier in Los Angeles, as the opening night film, “Pink Skies” has gone on to win a Gold Medal for excellence at the prestigious Park City Film Music Festival and Best Documentary Film at the VegasCinefest in Las Vegas. Pink Skies also just won Best Documentary at the Beverly Hills Film, TV and New Media Festival. In addition we recently screened at the EAA Airventure at Oshkosh, New York City International Film Festival, and the Kiev International Film Festival.

The best part about making this film though isn’t winning awards, it has been the reaction of the people seeing it.  Recently after a festival a woman come up to me and with tears in her eyes told me how important seeing this film had been for her.  She said she had spent the whole night after watching it going over the film again in her mind and making lists of the changes she was going to make in her life.  She thanked me profusely for making this film.  I’ve had multiple inquiries from schools and state institutions to show the film.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

See for more information and follow Pink Skies on Facebook and Twitter.

Back to Blog

Leave a Reply: