What do you get when you combine filmmaking, paragliding and birds of prey?

Making a career out of your passion is everyone’s dream. Combining three different passions and turning that into your day job is, well, just completely out of reach. And I’m sure that’s exactly what Martin Cray thought in the 90’s, but his remarkable story of how three un-connected hobbies merged together, may make you think again.


Martin Cray is a cameraman, director and filmmaker with three passions – Filming, flying and falconry. “If I’m not doing one of them, I’m normally doing another and just occasionally, I do all three at once”. 

What came first - the film making, the flying or the brids?

“For some reason, I was born loving birds of prey. I can’t remember a time when it hasn’t been an obsession. I was into still photography after leaving college and wanted to do film but that felt like a completely unattainable target since I didn’t know how to get into the film business. 

Parahawking 1

After going to art school, I fell into advertising and was exposed to commercials. This was around the time that I started flying and forgot about birds. Long story short, after creating a few add campaigns and working in advertising for a while, I made enough money to go to film school at New York University in 1993. Flying took a backseat during that time, along with the birds but after moving to Wales a few years later, flying became a real obsession again and then I remembered that I loved birds!”

Flying footage - how does that work?

There’s two ways to do it. You can either go up on a tandem so someone else flies while you film or fly solo with cameras strapped to you. Modern technology has made this possible with GoPro being a complete game changer in the industry. GoPro has meant that a recreational film maker can get great footage for an affordable price. 

Martin Hawk - parahawking

“If I’m doing a tandem, I really need to trust the person flying as I pretty much need to climb out of the harness. As for strapping cameras to myself, before GoPro, this used to only be successful about 20% of the time as you’d rarely get what you wanted in the frame. There were many other challenges such as losing connections which meant that you’d also lose the picture”.  

What's your motivation to keep flying when you've done it so much?

People come up with genius ways of dealing with stress and anxiety in day to day life and Martin’s reason for flying was simple…


“If I do something that’s genuinely stressful i.e. life threatening then everything else isn’t so bad. You get the most extraordinary endorphin rush, especially if the flight is intimidating. If you have the right skill set for the condition, the sport is perfectly safe but if not, it can be pretty scary”.


Lots of exciting projects are another reason to fly.


“I’m currently working on wildlife things for the BBC and Channel 4. I’m working on a project about flying with wild kites and I’m also taking a presenter up on a tandem paraglider. In my own time, I’ll be teaching a wild buzzard to fly again”. 

Martin Hawk - parahawking

Arc'teryx Alpha AR - thoughts?

As a company, we love to send kit out to people who work in the outdoors to test and enjoy. We sent Martin an Arc’teryx Alpha AR.


“I just filmed an environment series on river pollution and it passed the test. It’s super light, very waterproof and I love the shape!”

Gadgets for the adventure filmmaker

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