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Five Questions for Drone Boning Drone Porn Creators Brandon LaGanke and John Carlucci

Drones. Porn. Directors Brandon LaGanke and John Carlucci of Ghost Cow Films have taken what might have been a cynical, viral video SEO-mashup and delivered something deeply weird and oddly hypnotic. While Drone Boning features couples having sex (so, yes, it’s adults-only and NSFW), the eerie glide of the drone and the camera’s distance from these writhing lovers make them more like elements in a video art piece than reflections of desire.

Filmmaker previously featured the work of Ghost Cow when we curated LaGanke’s short film, Play House, for the Northside Film Festival. When he sent me this latest out-there work, I responded with five questions on its making. Below, LaGanke and directing partner John Carlucci talk about the drones, the camera and the logistics of staging sex scenes in open outdoor spaces.

Filmmaker: First, what equipment did you use for this? What cameras and drones?

LaGanke and Carlucci: The drone was a S1000 and the camera was a [Panasonic] GH4. We thought about using an Epic rig but felt the GH4 gave us more flight time, which was important when you’re literally sniping shots in and around San Francisco The GH4 is a 4K camera. It’s a compressed image but good enough for a proper color grade and HD finishing for the web. The drone team was Spark Aerial out of San Diego.

Filmmaker: I notice VFX credits. I’m assuming that none of your couples were matted in. Could you tell me what the VFX consisted of?

LaGanke and Carlucci: Very minor, but very important. We worked with Click 3X, or I should say, they worked with us on removing drone shadows (on the beach scene), unwanted clothing and we even removed a large blanket in the last scene in the field. The ground was pretty spiky and the actors (an older couple) needed a blanket. We liked having bare bodies in each environment so we had to remove it. Click 3X did an amazing job at painting it out. I have no idea how they did it. Fucking geniuses.

Filmmaker: How did you choose these locations, and what sort of time was required to plant the actors and then stage the drone shots?

LaGanke and Carlucci: Our very talented producer, Chad Ghiron, grew up in Sonoma county and knew all of these locations. Our DP, Ruben O’Malley lives in San Francisco, and the drone team, Spark Aerial, are from San Diego, so all signs pointed to San Fran. Most importantly though, we needed epic, extremely beautiful exteriors to sell the concept — a juxtaposition of sex with absolutely stunning locations. We thought that there was some great comedy in that notion.

The time was very tight, and it was a super stressful shoot. We were shooting actors having sex with drones in public. Not very easy. We had people standing by with blankets in between takes. Once that drone got up in the air, it was on. We had about five minutes of shooting time. We only got one take of the beach scene because a lady yelled at us for shooting “a porn” on her beach and ran to get the ranger. So we hightailed it out of there quick. Shooting in Muir Woods was equally stressful. The actors and crew were all game, though. Yet another reason San Fran was the best location for this concept. The people are nuts there! In a good way.

Filmmaker: How did the concept arise?

LaGanke: I was shooting a commercial gig in Wyoming. I was working with drones and as I was shooting a 90 degree, top-down, angle, I thought to myself, wouldn’t this be hilarious to have, in every shot, a couple fucking below. Sort of a moving-image, “Where’s Waldo” thing. As I started telling people the idea, jokingly at first, people had the same reaction to it: privacy, drone strikes, invasion, etc. So, I brought the idea to John Carlucci, my directing partner at Ghost Cow Films and we formed the idea into a voyeuristic experience, ending in a humorous commentary on invasion of privacy. The thought here was, let’s tell people that when it comes to drones, “Make Porn, Not War.”

We then hooked up with some friends of ours, Ryan Olsen and Zach Coulter. Ryan started a band called Gayngs and more recently, Polica. Zach, also in Gayngs, is from a band called Solid Gold. Their track, The Kink, was the perfect compliment to the film. They actually wrote the entire album under the influence of DMT. Read about their process here.

Filmmaker: Do you intend to do more work with drones, and, if so, what will it be?

LaGanke and Carlucci: We’ve been using drones a lot in our work lately. It’s so cheap and super easy to get those amazing, epic aerials that would have cost way too much in the past. And the rigs are getting better. I know a guy in New York who’s flying the Alexa and duel Epics for 3D work. Pretty amazing stuff.

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