Meet the filmmakers behind ‘Drona’

The Bay Area Drone Film Festival is set for this Sunday in Silicon Valley. Ahead of the festival, we caught up with Chafic Saad and Kris Lee, founders of Kind Motion Pictures and the creators of ‘Drona,’ one of the nominees for the Narrative/Statement/Cause category of the festival.

Drone Girl: What is your film about?

Chafic Saad: It’s centered around Kecak, which started in the 1930s as a secular art form made for tourists in Bali as a local type of entertainment. The film was made in Bali and grew off that. Every village has a different style of Kecak where they sit in a circle and do different types of chanting.

Photo courtesy of Chafic Saad

Photo courtesy of Chafic Saad

DG: How were you able to get the access to shoot this?

Kris Lee: We went for the 7th International Body Music Festival, which was in Bali this past year. We got in touch with the founders, and we got the green light.

DG: It was that easy?

CS: When we first started filming Kecak we realized it was very loud, and Kecak is vocal music. When we were filming it was a little too loud and we were asked to land it. We felt defeated at that point. We came this far, we landed the drone into Bali and now we can’t film.

DG: Of course, it did work out.

CS: We brainstormed, ‘how can we get the drone into the performance and get the video we need?’ So one of the organizers had the idea of including the drone in the actual ceremony. It’s an 1930s art form and here we are in 2015 incorporating a drone into it.  It wasn’t too complicated but it was cool to have the Kecak group interact with the drone. It looked like a futuristic spacecraft coming into the middle of Bali.


Kris Lee and Chafic Saad’s ‘dronie’ in Bali. Photo courtesy of Chafic Saad

DG: So what gear did you use to shoot?

CS: We shot on the Inspire 1, and we also have the Osmo, which is really awesome for those closeup shots. Since flying into tight spaces is complicated, if I want a technical path then I would rather put the camera on the Osmo and just walk it, but make it seem like it’s still flying.

DG: A lot of people ask me about traveling internationally with a drone. What was your experience like?

CS: We brought our drone, the Inspire 1. After traveling for 36 hours from New York, we finally got to Bali, and the customs department would not let us bring the drone through. It was quite a scene. We had all the paperwork saying we could bring it through. They thought I was going to sell it. I had to put down a deposit of $2,000 US dollars and it would not have been returned if I didn’t bring the money back. That was scary.

DG: But you got the money back?

CS: Yes, we had to show them it was the same drone. Even still, they walked us all the way to our gate to make sure we wouldn’t sell it.


Photo courtesy of Chafic Saad

DG: What was the whole experience of filming with a drone like?

KL:  Some of the shots we were getting — we were just getting goosebumps. It’s high stakes. There is this ceremony going on and you have to capture it. We went with the love of what we do, but we came back with the culture and knowledge. It was easy to make because we had such a beautiful canvas to work with. And the drone really became a quintessential part of modernizing the story.


Leave a Reply