Aerial drones have been deployed in the past mainly for military and surveillance operations, but in recent years they have had a growing number of uses for commercial purposes – especially in the filming of outdoor sports and real estate. My first experience with one of these flying camera drones came at the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon where a drone flew overhead, filming the start of the race.
I met Mike Barnard at Snowbird one Sunday afternoon this past winter. Mike is a bartender at the Tram Club, and I like to stop at the Tram Club for a few beers after a long day of skiing. Mike is originally from Ohio, so we quickly started up a conversation about our shared home state. This lead to me talking about GSL Clothing and Mike mentioned his own side project – Little Cottonwood Canyon Films.
LCC Films is a local company consisting of Mike, his fleet of drones, a small staff, and a group of local athletes. I caught up with Mike and asked him a few questions to get some more insight into the vision of his company and what the future holds for LCC Films.
1. What brought you from Ohio to Utah?
My friend Kyle and I wanted to work and ride at Snowbird for a season and well that was back in January 2008.
2. What are the goals of LCC Films? Film athletes? Real estate? Events? All of the above? Just tell us a little about the company and who your target market is…
All the above and them some! I actually have a music video lined up with Gigi Love. I’m going to collaborate with her and get her some killer Little Cottonwood Canyon aerials, should turn out pretty sweet. She actually lives at the mouth of the canyon. We’re going to shoot at her place.
I’m thinking about starting lessons for all the other nerds out there who would like to learn and don’t want to buy a setup just to crash. It’s inevitable, so work the simulator then take it to the fields.
3. How did you get into flying and how long have you been doing it for? How many drones do you currently own?
I actually found a computer in the dumpsters at Snowbird so I took it home. Turned out to be a decent computer that needed a little loving to get back up and running, a good buddy was up for the task and he had a LaTrax Alias (quad copter) he never flew it so he traded me straight up. I got the Blade 350 QX (holds a GoPro) for a birthday present from my family on September 24th, 2014. I’ve accomplished quite a bit in 6 months but unfortunately after my first crash that was a pilot error (flying like a cowboy) I rebuilt and crashed mine six times and basically put me out of commission for the majority of the ski season. Tried replacing every part but the main board pretty much and still can’t figure out why it won’t make it past the calibration procedures. So I went out and bought the one I originally wanted that I didn’t have enough money for at the beginning. I decided it’s time to ship it back to Horizon Hobby and let them get it back to new. I currently have five drones. Blade 350 QX3, Walkera QR X350 Pro, Turnigy SK450, LaTrax Alias (does triple and quadruple flips/rolls 🙂 ) and a Proto X (smaller then the inside of your palm)
4. How often do you crash? Any crazies stories?
Well you know this answer. First time I attempted to fly in a pretty big park. I took it up way too far and lost control of it and couldn’t get it back, with no return to home feature, it ended up falling out of the sky over top of a neighborhood and I had no idea where it landed. I only saw the direction it came down in and a ballpark idea of about how far away it was. Remember the park was pretty big. 🙂 I ended up retrieving it after a solid 60 minutes of walking through the neighborhood. Ooops!
5. I saw on your FB page that you are dealing with some issues with the FAA. What are they doing to try to regulate the commercial use of drones?
The FAA has came up with some rules and regulations. There’s going to be a license every pilot will have to have in order to use them commercially, nothing too insane. They are here to stay though. They’re just to cool!
6. What are your future plans for the company? Any upcoming films we should be on the lookout for?
Travel!! Spread the LCC Films through the states and maybe overseas! I just put an Athletes page up on the main site and have a solid Ski and Snowboard team with some professional hang glider and paragliders too. Whenever this next storm hits, be ready for something shortly after. Cheers!