Ice and Desert
Over three thousand miles and one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit separate the
A hot-air balloon glides over seemingly endless forests of pine. A sports car is drifting in the snow. Between the two, a drone slices through the air. Then it swoops down dramatically and ensnares the car at breakneck speed. A winter landscape? The eye can scarcely apprehend how the flight maneuver suddenly transitions to a desert. The music underscores the dynamic acts of cinematography and driving like a symphony of contrasts. The locations provide the extremes in this action film: snow in Finland, desert sands in the United Arab Emirates. The protagonist is the
The second hero remains in the background. Johnny FPV has both feet on the frozen ground, about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle, as he works his magic from the bird’s-eye view above. He is wearing black video glasses and holding a drone controller in his hands, with gloves protecting them against the frigid air—the filmmaker’s biggest challenge today. A closed course with prepared ice tracks, the
“It’s important to fly in a unique way, to establish a trademark style.”
Born Johnny Schaer, the three initials in his professional handle stand for “first-person view”—the camera perspective of the films that have made his passion a career. Thanks to instantaneous transmission speeds, the pilot sees the world almost live with the eye of the camera. Later, the viewer experiences the spectacular flight maneuvers with sensory directness. The twenty-five-year-old from Chicago loves speed, cars, and flying, and is known for exceptionally dexterous maneuvers. Few can match his skill in making the viewer a part of the action. He opens up new horizons, offering surprising dimensions in technical perfection. Watching him and his drone at work, one senses how the virtual and real worlds meld into one.
The film, entitled Drive2Extremes.
Schaer bought his first drone at the age of fifteen, followed days later by the second, and shortly thereafter the third. He practiced relentlessly. He got good. And then he became a pro. “Hand-eye coordination is crucial to being a good pilot. Otherwise it’s just a mix of hard work, good ideas, and talent,” he says. In Drive2Extremes, the shots are dynamic in multiple ways. The car moves forward—the drone in all directions. Johnny has developed his own style with which he captivates the viewer. “It’s important to fly in a unique way, to establish a trademark style. My videos bear my signature. They’re not jerky, they’re precise, and they’re very fluid.” In just seven years, he’s ascended into upper echelons of FPV pilots. “It’s indescribable to see and feel how strongly the
Interview first published in the