In the back country of Chonburi Thailand, villagers come together with their land-working buffalos and compete in a crazy type of drag race to see which is the fastest. The stakes are high; the buffalo are not like horses, the riders, hang atop these 2 ton beasts by the nape of their necks for dear life, as there is no way to control, or stop, the animals once they start to run. The only way they stop is by running the entire course into a large body of water, and the riders hope against all odds that the animals don’ t crash into each other, or buck them off, which happens often.
It’s extremely dangerous but a great source of fun and pride for the locals, who love to bet on the beasts, and hold huge competitions with food and drink rounding out the experience. If you get the chance to see one of these amazing events you definitely should, they are riveting. Filmed by our very own Roberto Serrini (@serrini) while on location for a film … more of his drone films are at http://www.nycdroner.com
Stay tuned for a NEW VID EACH DAY as we travel round the world to find the weirdest-wildest-best-nicest-goodest-sweetest-dopest stuff for you to get inspired by and get your a$$ off the couch.
I fly drones. It’s something I love doing, and as a filmmaker I find that they are fantastic tools for storytelling. My particular temptation is probably using them in ways they were not intended to be used, mainly flying through things like doors, windows, and tree branches. I like the way it makes a shot look like something taken by hand, and then magically start floating above, and drone companies like the way it makes me total my aircraft and have to buy a new one. Basically a win-win situation all around.
Sometimes though I am successful and the results can be beautiful. So I took a moment to compile some of the aerial footage I shot for a film called “Buffalo Rider” which was shot in Chonburi, Thailand, and directed by the fantastic Joel Soisson.
If you want to explore more of my aerial films hop on over to my site nycdroner.com and if you want to hear about the amazing adventure we had shooting in the backcountry of Thailand, then click this link here.
One day earlier this year I got a little phone call from a man by the name of Joel Soisson.
“Hi. This is Joel Soisson.”
Who the hell was Joel Soisson? Well, if you know how to Google (or click a hyperlink you lazy bum) you would quickly find out he is the producer of such films as Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (starring a super young Keanu Reeves and Billy Joe Armstrong), Dracula 2000 (which is like classic Dracula with computers) and my personal favorite, Piranha 3DD (Staring Doc Brown, strippers as lifeguards, and yes, double D was not a typo).
Well long story short the convo went like “hey, you want to come to this remote, back-country part of Thailand no one goes to and do some aerial filming for our new movie, “The Buffalo Rider”?”
Yes Joel, I would.
And I did:
What an amazing thing to not only film, but see. This was the real deal; villagers and townsfolk came from all over. The head of the region sat on a little makeshift stage wearing his best shirt. There were shiny plastic trophies, pleanty of Ya Dong drinking, and lots of people cheering on small boys hanging on for dear life to a charging 2 ton water buffalo.
The track, muddy and wet, was more of a slip and slide then a racetrack. At the end, a shallow lake.
How do you steer a water buffalo? You don’t. How do you slow it down? You don’t. How do you stop it? Youjump off.
The video will show you what I saw. Exciting, dangerous, and fast, this is a rodeo that only the country that invented Red Bull could invent. As for the color treatment, for all you film nerds, I had an itch to learn DaVinci Resolve which is an amazing program, and decided to put their qualifier and keyer to the test. I don’t think there is a better film grading program out there, and it’s free people.
See other little aerial films at my site http://www.robertoserrini.com/filter/drone/Drone-Aerial-Cinematography
This year I had the pleasure of going to Thailand on a film shoot (The Buffalo Rider – watch for it in theaters) and on the tail end of the shoot hit up the wee island of Koh Phi Phi for a little R&R and sun worship.
Of course it took me about 6 minutes before I broke out the drones.
So here is a little vacation film of Outrigger Resort on the island of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. It truly is paradise…
On a compressed schedule and a whirlwind 5 days straight droning, my part in “The Buffalo Rider” has wrapped. Besides the lovely Thai countryside of Chon Buri, I had the pleasure to do some amazing shooting at a remote Buddhist temple, A vast pineapple field, and even a local school, where I flew through a classroom of kids, out a window, and tracked behind two escaping students through a taro field. Life really is like a video game sometimes; you have to make each level a little more difficult or it gets a bit… boring;)
my bathmat. liberated from Thailand.
Through the deck, into the classroom, out the window, and a chase down the field.
a killer crew.
All my love to Joel and the amazing crew – they continue shooting for the rest of the month, and I look forward to some real cinema magic when the film gets completed. As for me, it’s time to get down to Bangkok, for a different kinda adventure, with my girl Miranda Kendrick from the jolly ol’ UK, coming out to be my “assistant” on the shoot … more like a “partner in crime” then an “assistant” me thinks.
Ah the illustrious world of buffalo racing. The pageantry. The jockeys with their sponsored banners and uniforms. All the pomp and circumstance that rivals even the Kentucky Derby.
Nah. Just kidding.
Buffalo Racing it turns out is about as country as you can get. It’s a mixture between drag racing and rodeo if stock cars had horns and we’re extremely pissed off. What I found personally interesting was the way Thai people from the city view Buffalo Racing. They think it’s backwater, hillbilly stuff. And to their credit, it is. Most of the actors in the film are from Bangkok, and they not only talk different then the locals here, but are noticeably whiter and very much on purpose. They cover themselves completely when they are not on camera. Then, they add a large amount of whitening to their already white skin. While westerners long for the bronzed skin that comes with a healthy tan, here it is anything but wanted. “White is right” said one of the kids on set, which sounded very, very strange to my ear. (on a side note, there is such a thing as “Nazi Chic” in Thailand that kinda blew my mind. I thought Juicy Couture sweatpants was the abomination of my fashion world… this definitely takes the cake.)
So this world is absolutely bizarro which makes it fantastically interesting. The buffalo are huge beasts that go extremely fast. Imagine a half ton of muscle and horn flying down a slippery mud runway at 30 mph… with you on the its back. What’s more is that it’s usually kids that race. They sit on the very back of the beast, hold on to a thin rope that is looped through the animal’s nose, and whip the shit out of them as they fly 100 yards toward a finish line. It’s not so much racing as controlled disaster. It’s riveting.
Samlee is a white (pink really) Buffalo, which is very rare, and considered good luck.
The Starting Line.
How do you move a one ton buffalo? Slowly.
They pull the animal down the track first, to get it comfortable with the terrain.
The starting line
Run baby run!
Winning is serious business here.
To stop the animal they… don’t. They simply jump off. That should give you an idea of what kinda control they have. Basically they run into a large body of water which slows them down, and then two dudes put their hands up and hope they stop.
They are beautiful animals. Before seeing them Joel the director had said how amazed he was with them, how much more expressive they were then other animals, say a dog or horse. They have these eyes, and can totally emote through them. You can see when they are happy, hungry, playful, or pissed off. It really is impressive. They owners love them as well and treat them like part of the family. They constantly bathe them. Constantly. It is amazing to watch the animal squint in pleasure as cool water is poured on him in the hot sun.
Fun for the whole family. See the dicks on the father’s belt? They’re called alad khik and they’re for good luck.
Oh yeah. It’s friggin’ hot. Really hot. Like 100 degrees hot. The palms of my hands got sunburnt. Luckily production was ready for it, and even had a bottle with my name on it ready to go at all times.
As for the production team, wow. I’ve never seen guys work so hard. They were amazing, rocking and rolling, making it happen. They set up dolly track in minutes, hardly ever was a word even spoken. Shooting on a RED as well in this heat could have been an issue, but not for these champs. None of the “not my job” attitude here; if it had to be done, it got done, regardless if you were the DP or an PA. It was a pleasure working with them.
at the gate, ready to shoot.
Tracking shot on a scooter? Hell yes.
Getting it done.
umbrellas. not just for rain.
I love sets like these. This is what I consider real filmmaking. The reason I got into filmmaking was because I get so bored doing just one task. I love the variety, the combination of talent it takes to make something really fuse together. So when I was asked to put down the drone and step in as the buffalo I was honored.
Buffalo ain’t got nothing on a kid from Strong Island.
I’m not sure if I smelled better then the buffalo but at least I was pleasant about it.
Ok kid, ease up on the grip.
Considering how hot it was, how much there was to shoot, and the fact that we weren’t using set animals, the day went off without a hitch. Lotsa people came down to watch; there was even a sorta tailgate culture where young guys would bring out their freshly washed supped up kit cars with homemade spoilers to impress local girls. Lotsa food trucks and drinking as well, along with your lively betting under the stands.
the sun is unrelenting, but does make some pretty things.
Local gang of kids.
Belongs in Long Island.
You think we have a food truck culture in NYC?
loved this guy.
modes of transportation.
Pretty sure this is a custom job as the motor is basically an industrial lawnmower.
Notice the buffalo squinting like “get the fuck off me dude.”
my little control station from where I would launch the drone.
gotta keep pretty much everything covered or you burn to a crisp.
Lunch. Rice would be my new best friend for a while.
“Jenny” our star.
Sure. It’s regulated.
Hired as an aerial cinematographer I had my work cut out for me. These muscle rockets were fast, unpredictable, and on the whole, did not like the wasp-like whine of my drone. That being said I think it’s been one of my favorite things I’ve shot to date. Flying and shooting with a drone can be a lot of fun; it excels at landscapes and cityscapes, and for the most part anyone can make such scenes look amazing with the right gear and experience. Moving objects, and more specifically, large running animals in a race with small humans on their back was definitely more of a challenge, and one that was ultimately more rewarding then chasing a car or flying over a ridge of a mountain. To watch in slow motion as you track along side of them careening into a lake of sunlit painted water was quite a nice moment. It’s times like these I wish I charged more.