“Hearing the director get super excited and say, ‘Yes, it’s amazing. More, up, up, higher, higher!’ Getting that feedback in the middle of shooting a shot and them finding something that they just absolutely love and then tell you to push further is really an amazing moment…”
Rihanna recently released the music video for her Star Trek Beyond track, “Sledgehammer,” and critics have been praising the video for its stunning visuals and woman-heavy crew — we’re here to praise it for its use of drones.
Los Angeles-based Wild Rabbit Aerial Productions filmed all the aerial shots featured in the music video — and there are quite a few. “It’s one of the coolest projects that we’ve worked on,” says Drew Roberts, CEO and founder of Wild Rabbit. He was also the drone pilot for “Sledgehammer”.
This otherworldly film was shot at the Trona Pinnacles, which are about three hours outside of L.A. in the Mojave Desert. Roberts says people are always “stoked” when they see drones on set, but it was the type of flying he was doing that garnered attention this time. The Freefly ALTA 8 had to weave precisely through the tall rock spires that occupy the film site.
“We were doing really technical, close-proximity flying, so people were really excited to see how we were operating the drone, which was above and beyond what they had seen before,” Roberts says.
He praises Director Floria Sigismondi for allowing him and his crew to make mistakes and move freely when shooting, which in turn let Sigismondi find inspiration for shots.
“That’s the beauty of working with a drone. It’s such a freeform tool. It’s not a tool that’s locked to rails or locked to a crane” Roberts says.