how thailand happens. drones.

Sometimes I wonder how the hell I get myself into these situations. It all started in… Cambodia.

In 2013 I went to Cambodia to shoot a doc with Sami Joensuu, who is a badass. The doc was for a non-profit called FIDA that brought humanitarian aid to some very remote parts of the world. We were in one of those remote parts of the world. I’ll write more about the Cambodian adventure later, but long story short I brought my drones with me to get some tasty aerial magic.

The aerial footage went viral. Thank God, the last thing I did that made internet fame was a short “film” called “Tits for Hits”. There may be hope for me yet.

After the film was out I got lots of emails. Amazing emails. People thanking me for taking beautiful images of their country, filmmakers inspired to do the same. GoPro called me. They bought the film off of me to use in their marketing campaign. Now that’s how advertising should happen.

One email was from a very funny guy named Joel Soisson. This was his charming little email:

To: Roberto Serrini
Subject: Your Drone Work.

Hi Roberto,

Let me be the millionth fan to compliment you on your fine aerial work on the Cambodia film.  I’m directing a low-budget feature film about kids who race water buffalo in rural Thailand and was wondering if you had any plans to be back in that part of the world between mid-March and mid-April of this year.  Or if you would be up for being flown to Thailand and ridiculously underpaid for your obvious talent.

Anyway, that’s about the worst proposal you’ve probably received in a while but if you’re up for doing some beautiful aerials on a touching little film, hit me back.  Otherwise, keep up the good work!

Best regards,

Joel Soisson
Buffalo Rider

He had me at “low-budget feature”.

Drone shooting, as I call it because Aerial Cinematographer sounds pretentious as hell, is a newly acquired skill for me (and everyone really). I bought a DJI Phantom in June 2013 to take to Italy for a San Pellegrino shoot. Since then I bought another Phantom, learned to solder, built a F550, and installed them all with Zenmuse gimbals, FatShark FPV, and custom props and landing gear. I latched on as hard as you can, and while I will say the learning curve is steep (like 4 drones crashed steep) it’s been extremely rewarding. So to have the chance to film friggin’ buffalo racing in Thailand, and have my girlfriend come with as an assistant, let’s just say I was willing to discuss the options.

The point here people is that budget rarely dictates passion. If you love what you do, then just do it. Money is really just something that happens along the way. Besides, you cant buy the kind of experience to work with people who are as crazy as you are about what they do. That’s like a orgy of creation, and everyone leaves satisfied.

So what happened? Joel and I had some great e-mail banter, discussed the script, the usage of the drones, and got pretty amped up about the possibilities. These tools have the potential to add so much production value; shots that would have cost in the tens of thousands now can be achieved with a well worded email and a healthy sense of adventure.

And so the flights were booked. I’ve had worse proposals Joel.


PS: Here’s the film that was internet famous for a day. The funny thing is that this was just something I pieced together; an afterthought of a larger project. Again, do what you love and life will high-five you.

2 thoughts on “how thailand happens. drones.

  1. Awesome stuff man! This is exactly the sort of thing I’m looking to get into. I currently own a DJI Phantom 2 Vision, but it doesn’t produce the same quality as this. I hope to read more of your posts in the feature, as they are very inspiring for people interested in quadcopter photography and filming. Whats your opinion on the Vision? I’m thinking of converting it to a go pro system with a gimbal.


    1. Thank you kindly Sir! It is much appreciated. Well, I will say this; the DJI Phantom, with a Zenmuse, is a wonderful tool. That being said, I have easily crashed my share of tools while learning how to fly proficiently. There are a lot of nuances to flying and filming, and despite thinking because I’ve played video games all my life, this was not something that came naturally. That mixed with a decade worth of experience doing post work, and well, you can get some pretty pictures. I definitely suggest upgrading; when I jumped on the drone bandwagon all these add-ons had to be purchased separately and soldered onto the drone’s board. Now they sell ready to fly kits, which is a thing of beauty. Go for it… you will not be sorry.


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