Flightgeist, the New York City-based creative entity, comprised of Corey Eisenstein and Joe Pickard, is a collaborative effort that has provided footage to everyone from Usher to UNICEF. Recently, Corey and Joe traveled, drone in tow, to take in sights of New Mexico. We caught up with Corey to talk about their trip.
How did you get started with the drone?
Joe and I are both videographers and friends, and we shoot a lot of standard video projects, but we decided to embark on the drone project together because we didn’t know much about it. So we split the cost of the equipment and learned together.
I fly, and he controls the camera. We’re based out of New York, but we try not to fly there: There are too many people, too many airports, too many everythings.
I’ve always been involved in photography, filmmaking, and storytelling. While I might move to a different area of communication, it’s always been the way to go. Visual storytelling is just something I enjoy.
Why did you decide to go to New Mexico?
We like to travel and fly the drone somewhere that has a lot of open space — we’ll go and shoot for about a week. We chose New Mexico because we thought the landscapes were out of the ordinary, and we also didn’t see a lot of other footage online.
We drove out there and didn’t know what we were going to find. We drove in and out of Albuquerque because it was cheapest and easiest. We rented a car, and I looked up scenic byways and we tried to hit as many as we could.
We ended up spending two days in Santa Fe and a couple of days in Taos. It was really up in the air. If we found gorgeous vistas, we stayed, and if we didn’t, we left. We woke up early to catch the sunrise. By the middle of the day we’d check into a hotel, charge up the batteries and then in the evening, we’d go out again and try to catch sunset.
Did anything surprise you about the landscape there?
I didn’t know much about New Mexico going into this trip. But it was exactly as I’d expected — I don’t know why that is. It’s beautiful state. There’s a lot of open areas, which is part of the reason we wanted to go there — nobody ever questioned us flying the drone there. It was nice to have that freedom.
It was interesting to shoot in both desert landscapes and national forests completely covered in the snow. We could be in the desert in the morning and surrounded by snow in the evening.
What did you want to capture about New Mexico?
The landscape was so expansive. We weren’t expecting to see sights like the ones we did — the enormous bridge over the dam, for example. I remember feeling pretty impressed by that.
Everything in that video — the sights, the shot of the men on horses, the tone of the song — evoked a westward expansion theme. We wanted to capture the sights in a Wild West style though, obviously, the drone is a very 21st-century device.
I particularly wanted to photograph the men on horses, so I looked up cowboy ranches and found this one man who has been an extra in practically every show about the Southwest. “Breaking Bad,” well-known movies, you name it. We flew over his land and asked if he’d like to be in it, so he rode his horses around for a couple of hours and he’s the cowboy you see in the video.
Did filming New Mexico make you want to move out west?
Definitely. I’ve lived in New York for over 10 years, but I’m drawn to the idea of having a lot of space to move around.
Out West, nature hasn’t been fully conquered yet. When you’re on the East Coast, especially in New York, you see that we’ve cemented over most of our nature. Moving west is a different dynamic. It feels like the people are small and the nature is big, which is the opposite of how it feels in New York.
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