Embrace change or perish
I sometimes think that I must be living somebody else’s life. I joined the Royal Navy, flew helicopters, rescued people, started a helicopter company, flew on movies (my first was James Bond!), shot and directed an IMAX movie, ran Melbourne airspace for the Commonwealth Games and loved almost every minute of it all.
Then came drones; an innovative name that defines disruption.
That single word influences everything I now do; my keynote speaking, my film work, and my books. Five years ago I wouldn’t have believed that disruption could simultaneously be the worst and the best thing that could happen to me.
Give me a shout, I’ve got a story to tell you.
It doesn’t hurt to share
I interviewed an admiral on stage just recently. I’ve always thought of an admiral as being of such immense seniority and superiority that he must be woven out of a different fabric from the rest of us – some sort of deity even. But he turned out to be human, a good conversationalist and a joy for any MC to work with. I was thrilled to find I had something to contribute.
There are few things more satisfying and enjoyable than telling a story from which others can learn. Disruption is a big theme at the moment and I watch peoples’ hair stand on end when I give them an insight into how it can be both a curse and a blessing.
Drones in Film
Learn to fly the lens, not the flying machine.
I guess I could have gone on throwing my shoes at the television screen every time an image appeared that had been shot from a drone, but I was beginning to run out of shoes. My day-to-day work filming from helicopters, for everything from huge screens in IMAX to tiny screens on the web, had all but disappeared … and it hurt. I’d been overtaken by a new generation who thought nothing of launching a camera into the air and adeptly maneuvering their flying machine around the skies; all at ridiculously low cost.
Then came my light-bulb moment … they could fly like angels but the vast majority had little or no idea how to capture the WOW shot. Suddenly I have a new motivation in teaching, mentoring and demonstrating how to create a career out of doing the thing you love. I did it in helicopters, why shouldn’t they do it in drones?
We now run courses that range from a one hour motivational talk to school students, right up to a two day residential course in FLYING THE LENS. I’ve been honoured to be a judge and ambassador for the Drone Film Festival ANZ and a consultant to creative drone companies such as Aerial Vision Services. We are now expanding our drone activities into industrial surveys in collaboration with some very big players in the sector.
Drones in Agriculture
The Game Changer
In a project called The Hands Free Hectare a paddock in the UK has just yielded over 4 tonnes of grain without a human ever stepping foot beyond the gate. In New Zealand they are developing a drone that doesn’t just identify and map the weeds but then zaps them with a laser. No more weedkiller – how would that be?
But farmers are a conservative lot so we’re helping them to dip a tentative toe in the water with a simple off-the-shelf drone that will visit their water troughs automatically every day, map their land and fences, check the gates and roofs, keep watch over their animals in labour without disturbing them and find the lost sheep that needs dipping. We deliver the drone, set it up and give a half day of personal guidance on how to use it. Then we’re on the end of a phone whenever they need us (and their children see them as fresh heroes!)
Don’t dive into this brave new digital world with your fingers over your nose, wade gently into the warm waters at your own pace.
A life in words and pictures
I started writing RESCUE PILOT as a way of remembering some good stories that I might have forgotten to tell the kids. By the time I’d finished writing them down I found I had a book. Bloomsbury Publishing were the team who discovered JK Rowling so I was in good hands when they offered to publish my book.
With only half the story told I set about writing FILM PILOT, which Bloomsbury released in 2017. My fervent hope is that it will serve as a creative impetus to a whole new generation.
My editor asked whether the next book will be called “Droning On”. Maybe … we’ll see.
Couldn’t do it without them.
You might have noticed that there’s a wonderful lady called Sara Hine who keeps popping up in my bios. At least that’s been her working name, but as Sara Grayson she’s been my life and working partner for a very long time now. She’s a film and television producer who doesn’t take no for an answer, sets herself extraordinarily high aims and usually achieves them. If you write to me and hear back from Sara it’s just a reflection of how we share the work. Her bio is here.
And I can’t get to the bottom of this page without proudly mentioning son Sam and daughter Tiffany. Sam develops property in the UK and also owns a private airport transfer service in the French Alps called Snowlinx. Tiffany is an actors agent at ARG Talent.