Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Midwest Drone Productions, LLC, is involved with the film and music industries as well as working with production companies on documentaries and marketing projects. They also provide services for network television. Recent credits include the feature films “Minari,” “Unplugging” and the forthcoming “Fancy Dance” as well as two seasons of the hit FX series “Reservation Dogs.”
Can you tell us how and why you started your business?
I was a photojournalist in television news for 20 years. The station that I last worked at had two helicopters, and I was interested in drones. They would not let me develop a drone program, so I quit and started Midwest Drone Productions in June 2015. I just wanted to fly cameras, and with my production experience, I had a good idea of the types of shots to get.
What services do you provide within the film/music industry?
In the film industry, we are strictly drone-based. That’s our thing. It usually consists of a three-person crew – a pilot, camera operator and spotter. For the music industry, I work with the same individuals using gear we all share for streaming and music video creation.
How has your company grown to meet the needs of Oklahoma’s film and/or music industries over the last 3-5 years?
In the beginning, we struggled with having a camera that can shoot in resolutions needed. We now have been able to maintain a drone for several years now that can do this. We just recently acquired a second drone that can fill some gaps with smaller crew.
What are the benefits of basing your company’s operations in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma has so many different types of landscape and that means good filmmaking opportunities. Also, the real estate industry moves lots of large tracks of land, which utilize drones for such marketing.
What would you consider your business’s greatest accomplishment to date?
I would say the greatest accomplishment is being able to support the types of insurance and crew that is required with big companies such as Disney.
Are there any recent successes your company would like to highlight related to work within the Oklahoma film and music industries?
It was pretty cool seeing our work on the big screen with the movie “Unplugging.” Also, working on “Reservation Dogs” is a big deal for us, and it’s something that we are very proud of.
What are you working on now/next?
We are obviously always working on smaller projects, but we recently finished work on season two of “Reservation Dogs,” which is now streaming. We can’t wait to see the show and our shots this season. Currently, we are working on the feature film “Fancy Dance.”
What is your goal/vision for the future of your company?
The goal is to work on more movies and grow the business enough to have more drones capable of carrying bigger cameras.
What advice do you have for others who are considering starting a film or music business in Oklahoma?
Help your friends in the industry achieve their goals because they will remember that.
What opportunities do you believe await Oklahoma’s film/music industry in the future?
Huge!!! I believe we have just scratched the surface, and there will be plenty of work for folks in the coming years. The world is just now learning about what we can offer and how professional we are.
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.