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Amateurs' Drone Video Catches Hollywood's Attention

Director Lee Unkrich says bowling alley clip is 'one of the most amazing things I've ever seen'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2021 11:21 AM CST

(Newser) – Filmmakers who posted an 87-second video to YouTube earlier this month are now getting calls from Hollywood directors. That's how impressive "Right Up Our Alley" is. The continuous clip, shot March 2 with a "first-person view" racing drone, offers a zigzagging view inside Minneapolis' Bryant-Lake Bowl, which opened in 1936. It begins with the drone descending out of the sky to whip through the bowling alley's front door. The drone continues squeezing through tiny gaps as it explores every corner of the venue, including a bar, theater, and the back room, where viewers get a look at the machinery that moves the pins. Viewers also get to eavesdrop on bowlers, who quote from The Big Lebowski, though the audio was added after the fact. Cinematographer Jay Christensen, who was operating the drone, chose to highlight the venue as it had become rather empty during the pandemic.

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Director Anthony Jaska says Christensen had become "prolific" with the drone since last spring, when he posted a video showcasing Minneapolis' empty streets, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. This time, he tested his drone skills inside with help from Minneapolis' Rally Studios. And "Hollywood noticed," the New York Times reports. Lee Unkrich, who directed 2017's Oscar-winning Coco, tweeted that the video was "one of the most amazing things I've ever seen." Star Wars visual-effects artist Todd Vaziri wrote that it was a "wonderful photographic innovation [that] adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema." Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, meanwhile, tweeted that he wanted the filmmakers "to come with us to London later this year when we shoot Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." It "seems crazy," Jaska tells the Star Tribune. "But who knows?" (Read more drones stories.)

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