Meet Victoria Sendra, a Brooklyn, NY-based filmmaker (producer/director/cinematographer/editor) who incorporates drones into her work. Sendra directed a music video for alternative/indie singer JFDR (whose full name is Jofridur Akadottir)’s single “Wires,” which was shot entirely on a drone. Find her on Instagram and on her personal website.
Drone Girl: How long have you been flying drones, and how did you get into it?
Victoria Sendra: I have only been flying drones since September! I was working on a dance film in a huge building in NYC and realized that it would be a great opportunity to get a drone and learn how to use it in time for the shoot. I grew up playing with remote controlled cars, planes, helicopters and boats, and so it took very little time to learn how to fly. I named my drone Eva Bot.
DG: At what point did you decide this music video should be shot on a drone?
VS: After I got my drone, I reached out to Jofri (we had worked together on a music video earlier that year) and asked if she would like to go out and film a video. She got back to me a few months later with the concept and we went upstate to film in the woods.
DG: What gear did you use to shoot the video?
VS: A DJI Phantom 4.
DG: That’s one of the best drones out there! Excellent choice. So what are some of the challenges of shooting a music video on a drone vs. a traditional camera?
VS: Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the most challenging and sometimes frustrating aspects of filming with a drone are all of the regulations. It’s important to register your drone with the FAA, write the serial number in an obvious place on the aircraft and check the location where you would like to fly to make sure there aren’t any restrictions. I use the B4UFly app for this.
It’s also important to be courteous when flying your drone. You wouldn’t want to ruin someones hike or disturb any wildlife. Weather is another issue, specifically strong winds, rain and snow.
DG: What was your process for doing the shoot? Do you go in with a storyboard of the shots you wanted to get? Or just get lucky with great shots?
VS: We had a general idea for the last overhead shot and everything else was improvised. I packed my drone in my backpack, we took a hike, found a nice secluded area, had a picnic and started flying/dancing around. I have a background in dance and am really drawn to communication through movement, so Jofri and I were just dancing together, only, I was sitting near the top of the mountain so as to not appear in the shot, while maneuvering through my iPhone and remote. We then picked our favorite shots in the editing room the next day!
DG: What advice do you have for people who want to incorporate a drone into their films?
VS: Make sure you know what you’re doing before you go out and that you’re aware of any and all rules and regulations. I would also like to add the point of being cautious. You don’t want to fly in a place that is dangerous. That will be a nuisance to anyone or that will disturb any local wildlife. Just put yourself in their shoes before flying and ask, “how would I feel if there was a drone here?”
DG: Do you have any photo tips?
VS: I recommend getting some ND filters for bright days so you can still get a nice depth of field. And have fun out there! Drones are a lot of fun and add a whole new element to your production.