Drone shooting contributed only around 3% of all the footage used in the film – but a vitally important, invaluable 3%.
Before sunrise on 6 Aug 2021. First trip to the Tankwa Karoo. Aerial assistant Amber van Wyk standing by, drone pilot Timothee Ferreira flying, director Victor van Aswegen using the monitor to direct the shot. Different approaches to keeping warm on a cold winter's morning in the Tankwa.
Sun up, drone up
Previous day. Amber, Timothee, Victor, in customary division of roles, for aerial view of Strijdom's water ripples in the desert.
Inauspicious start to second time in Tankwa Karoo. Late afternoon, 24 Aug 2021. Two flat tyres at the same time, only one spare wheel, tens of kilometres from the camp, no cellphone signal, two hours from sunset with only the horizon, the rocks, and the film equipment for company. No passing traffic – at least, almost none. Can be unforgiving, the Tankwa ...
... but somehow always rewarding in the end.
Twenty four hours later. Strijdom, Victor, Timothee, Amber, and Strijdom's intersecting lines. Tankwa Karoo, late afternoon on 25 Aug 2021.
Timothee and Victor with camera on gimbal in Stellenbosch's Koloniesland on 29 Sep 2021, getting ready for last shot on crazy, blustery day that becomes steadily more and more blustery and correspondingly crazier as the day wears on. By the end, the wind keeps blowing water droplets onto the lens, so it has to be wiped with a soft cloth and carefully checked before every shot. But great shots from low angle with camera on gimbal moving through Strijdom's big bamboo leaves.
Third trip to the Tankwa. Coming in to land after late afternoon shoot on 19 Nov 2021. 4K Blackmagic Production camera and Zeiss CP.2 on Skyhook's Alta 8.
On site before sunrise on our last day in the Tankwa, 20 Nov 2021. Drone pilot Joshua Branquinho measuring speed of cold, howling wind, only to confirm what we already know: wind speed above limit – insurance won't cover any damages if he takes off in these conditions. No fly.
Pressing ahead, as it is our last day in the Tankwa, doing what we can under the circumstances, shooting on the ground. Instead of flying, not possible in this wind, Timothee and Joshua brilliantly use the drone's gimbal to get moving shots of Strijdom making the work, with Victor directing the shot from the monitor in the foreground which is receiving the image signal from the camera on the gimbal.
Hours later, the wind dies down. The drone can go up after all. Timothee with the Alta 8 and the camera looking down on Strijdom's work – as was the original plan. The day is saved.
What the camera saw.
Last shoot in the Tankwa, midday on 20 Nov 2021. Parked high on a rocky hill, shooting over harsh desolate landscape far below.
Joshua bringing the Alta 8 in to land so we can head home back to Cape Town.
Mostly though – for 97% of the shooting on the project – earthbound.