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Getting macro (or trying): What we've learned from our mistakes



It was the second time Loch said, “You’re good,” I realized we probably weren’t. But again it was too late and I had already toggled the right control stick “up” to gain altitude. Sure enough, I heard the weed-whack of the drone blades hitting the power lines and the subsequent thud as it landed on the street next to a local couple trying to enjoy an evening walk on the outskirts of town. Instead of berating us about potential calamity to their wellbeing, they asked if the drone was ok (we were in Utica, not New York City, after all). “Probably not.”


The first time I heard “you’re good” we crashed from 20 feet up next to an abandoned factory, damaged one of the four rotors, and ruptured the camera’s gimbal, which actually turned out to be not that important. This was in line with our short history of flying. The first flight in NY, Loch’s friend nearly flew it into a wall inside his living room. Six months ago, Zach crashed it into a field during a test-flight, and then proceeded to slice his finger open on a still-whirring blade. On our last trip, I barely missed the corner of a Bosnian-owned construction warehouse trying to nail a low fly-by at dusk.


As such, the drone has been an interesting addition to the gear-list. We are decidedly amateurs. But who isn’t?? And come on! It’s 2019! We gotta get some drone shots! Even if only for our website, or for a postcard. Or just to keep things exciting out there. Or so we can post this picture of Loch looking downtrodden after a crash. Seriously, though, the drone has been a constant source of debate amongst us in the edit as to whether or not the distance it creates from our subjects is a good thing or bad thing- a visual indicator of the more macro story of Utica’s resettlement history being the most compelling case for its use. You are able to get a great view of the entire city, or objectively see its scars while floating down near-abandoned streets. The distance allows some space to reflect on what Utica is. And on how many people from all over the world have made a home in such a small area over so many years. This scope is critical to the film we are making- as long as we don’t lose that lived-in feeling we are striving for that brings real connection between our audience and the film’s characters. So as of yet, no final decisions on how many aerials you will see in the final edit, but wanted you to know we are trying EVERYTHING to make the best film we can!


Note: it is still on the master to-do list to strap a GoPro on resettlement worker Jayson’s motorcycle as he tears to work.

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