Keys to Drone Pilot Success with MTV Drone Pilot Jake Levesque
You’re. Listening to the ask of droney podcast, you ask we answer your drone questions, whether you’re here, to turn your passion into profit and you simply fly for fun. We’re, a community of wares and teachers who aspire to achieve greatness.
We are hey everyone and welcome to another fantastic episode of ask drone you. My name is Paul and I have a very special guest with me today. He started from the bottom and made it all the way to MTV he’s been living the drone life for a few years, maybe more than that, depending on how you look at commercial operations.
But he’s here today, to help us better understand what the key performance indicators are: the keys to success. What has been working for him? We also want to learn what didn’t work for him. We’re gonna hear all that, and then I think we’re gonna end it with a little bit of remote ID talk Jake.
I want to hear from your perspective. How would this affect your business? How would this affect your friends who fly so we’re gonna get into that. I know it’s. It’s a lot, but welcome to the show Jake Levesque from Las Vegas.
I blew it up that time with you, thanks for having me seriously. Oh, no, you’re, a phenomenal friend, you really are, and your style is incredible. I mean seriously, you’ve, been helping us out so much on YouTube productions, and you’ve, been doing a great job and you have been steadily gaining a reputation to just have phenomenal quality over and over again, and I think it’s just so important to talk about what has been working for you so Jake.
How did you even get into flying? Well, it all started when my buddy just became a real estate agent and he said that drones are getting really popular in real estate right now. You should buy a drone and fly for me, so I went out and bought a phantom 3 standard launched it up.
The first day I had it at this house that he had ready, I backed it up into a tree and it came inches inches from hitting my brand-new Corvette. Okay, so so hold on you’ve got a drone yeah, you flew. It had no idea what I was doing, never researched drones.
I’ve. Let’s. Just watch it. You drive a Corvette. I had a Corvette. I had my midlife crisis. I had my midlife crisis at 40 years old gotcha, and that was that was the party present had it for a year. It was way too expensive.
It was fun, though, but way too expensive. I got rid of it, but gotcha gotcha. So, ok back to the story, you almost literally dent crash scratch. Ding that close the Corvette, almost yeah, that close and the kicker was.
I realized after I crashed it. The these aren’t plug-and-play. You have to learn how to fly them and I had to wait for parts to come in before I could fix it and do it all over again. So I had to wait for parts and while I was waiting the two weeks for those parts to come in, I started researching drone lessons drone schools that’s.
Actually, how I came upon you, oh yeah, there was actually two schools going on at the time when I started getting into this. I think it was the drone boss and he just seems like he’s. Someone that you don’t want to be involved with it’s, just gimmicky trying to get your money or whatever, and then I found you guys where you guys actually offer classes, not asking money for me where that guy’s like give me your money up front, and then I can guarantee you industry, industry business.
You guys never guaranteed anything. You never said that. You just said we’re gonna teach you how to fly and that’s. How I found you awesome? Well, I’m sorry to hear of a negative experience, but really happy that you found a home here in the community because you have really become a fabric of the community.
You have. You have really helped other people and you have really done some amazing job. So after you had this failure, this near miss of the Corvette. Where did it go from there? What I mean like, obviously you found a school.
You found the community, but what did you start doing so then? I just start. I started my own business called vertical drone services, where it was just all based on real estate, so I just started flying real estate, but then I realized you can’t just film.
The outside. You got to film the inside of the house too. So I launched that drone in the inside of a house that lasted two seconds land of the drone. I was like heck. No, I have not flying a drone inside a house, so I went out and bought my first DSLR and started filming interiors of the house, which made the videos all that much better.
I mean they were pretty crappy at first yeah decide someone. You got a start and what they eventually got better started, learning new things and it just grew from there. Okay, so there’s, a couple things that I’m hearing.
You say, which is the fact that you did groundwork. You bought a DSLR droning is what you got into yes, but DSLR was ancillary to the drone, but it sounds like when you add those things together. You have more of like a comprehensive package.
You do so. Do you also take photos? I do take photos, so you really offer the whole gamut yeah and I think you have to because everyone wants a one-stop shop. Nobody wants to hire a drone guy, hire an interior guy and then hire a photographer.
They don’t want that. You got a you have to be able to do it all to be successful. Yeah education just get on YouTube, learn everything from YouTube. Gon na have to go to school for any of this stuff.
Let your creative side come out start your own business. I will say there’s, something about confidence in owning your productions. I think it’s, even something that I’ve been going through because, like while it may seem.
I have a lot like. I have a lot of confidence on the show. I would say that I’m, actually rather insecure about some of my my production skills, because I’ve seen so many people grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, they’re.
Doing awesome – and I have to remind myself that’s, that’s, really not a good way to kind of you know, think about it and go ahead. It’s, it’s, not but every one of my videos. I know that’s, alright Jake it is good, but every one of my videos I watch, I hate them.
I think I did something wrong in them and then I have some. I have another group that critiques them and they tell me how good it is, and then I get my confidence back, but I’m just everyone, so it will always be critical of themselves.
You got to ignore the noise just put stuff out there. You’ll, get better and 90 % of the time it’s, pretty good anyways, so yeah agreed a hundred percent um couldn’t agree more, but you know I’m even yeah.
I’m even giving gaining confidence in my productions because, unlike you, have been filming a vlog myself for about seven years, but I have not posted a single video. Why is that? Well, because I had a feeling that I would learn more and more and that I would, I would better understand how I could use my footage so that when the time came to tell the story, the story would be told in such a phenomenal way.
But then I realized that it wouldn ‘ T really be that phenomenal, because my stylistic shots are nowhere near as good as yours. I mean guys, like literally his work is so good and I’m gonna play some of it here, but I love the the way that you transition through the shots, the in-camera transition yeah, those are those are actually fun to do.
I recommend those I added with Final Cut by the way and I have more enjoyment making my own transitions versus using the basic Final Cut transitions. I’m, just painting a camera to the left and then my next shot.
I’m. Coming in from the left – and you just stitch them together – and it looks like this seamless, beautiful shot that just comes out, so you’re, not even using in transition. You’re literally just just bleeding waiting, speed, ramping, doing everything on your own, and it just feels so much better than using a basic like.
If I see a cross-dissolve stuff like that, I just got blue looks like my dad made that a PowerPoint there are places for them, but well, I understand a cross-dissolve as a change of time. Yes and so like I do.
I’m, not sure the people and I didn’t even for awhile, think of certain transitions to showcase certain stylistic cues, but it’s very powerful okay, so you were filming real estate sold these packages right huh.
We talked a little bit about your style before we get into your favorite drone and favorite camera. Where did it go from real estate all the way to MTV? How did that happen? So the MTV was lucky. It’s.
Sometimes it’s, usually about who you know, and I just happened to meet the host of the MTV – show the challenge. We became pretty good friends and he just happened to be filming another season in Thailand and I scoubidou he scuba scuba dives, so yeah he said hey, you want to come to Thailand and scuba dive with me.
I got you covered, so I just went with him as his friend and he knew I was into drones and then he just kept on pushing the director. So hey, let Jake fly your drones. Jake can do this. Jake can do that.
Him fly the drones and the director kept on saying: no, no, no! No! No, because Thailand on production, they’re, actually pretty strict, and you have to hire your own that a Thai visual observer, so they actually do like it’s.
Hi citizen yeah hi citizen, which had to be with the drone guy the entire time, so I went out on my own and just got all this epic b-roll of Thailand. I mean it looks like the movie avatar the stuff I got gave the guy in my memory card and he ended up using it on the show, and that was that me watching the show a few months later and then seeing my shots come up with such A great feeling it’s like one of the best games in the world, wasn’t even paid for it.
I wasn’t even paid for it, but it just felt amazing and then that led into me going back with him as a guest to Spain. And while I was with him in Spain, the director of photography launched a Mavic and he didn’t have any idea what he was doing so I walked up to her and told him I had my own drone business.
Can I help you out? Can I be your visual observer? He goes well. We’re off tomorrow. Do you want to come out with the crew and show us how to fly these drones, so I spent the entire day flying drones with him on a beach in Spain and on the way back to the hotel.
He said I’m gonna call the director you’re gonna be filming the show tomorrow and the next night I was flying the entire drum. The entire episode of all the drone shots were mine and that’s, all great feeling.
What handsome this is even better feeling that I had to go home and then seven days later, MTV sends me a plane, ticket back and says, come back and finish the show flying to Jones and we ‘ Ll pay you so anything going back to Spain for another.
Two weeks finish the episode with some epic drone shots, it was gone. Is I mean, do you feel like, as a drone pilot you’re almost almost on this epic adventure that you as like a safari? The opportunities that I’ve, had just from the drones alone has made made my life.
So much more fulfilling like I’ve, been to Spain. I’ve, been Iceland, Thailand, the dr i’ve been everywhere, and that’s all started because of my drones, man, yeah man. I don’t know if you heard the episode recently, we were talking about the bartering for your footage at hotels.
Have you had any success with utilizing your skills as a drone pilot to acquire free nights at a hotel or or even adventures, or anything like that? I was hired by a production company to go shoot a fashion show in Punta Cana that the DR and they traded our footage for a free stay in their hotel.
So we were able to do the entire fashion show just by trading our footage. Lady, have us the free room, so yeah I mean yeah. I got it personally, but the company that I worked for they took our footage and you stay here.
We’ll, give you this. It was yeah that works so yeah and I do know a lot of people that have went on vacation flew their drone, got the footage. Hey. Can I come back next time? If I give you this footage – and they usually say yes Wow, oh so that’s, a key point to hey.
If I come back next time, yeah ah key points here, learning a lot from Jake Levesque here in windy and cold Las Vegas cold. So I’m shaking a little bit. It’s, not because I’m nervous. If you watch my vlog it’s, I’m, not nervous anymore.
It’s really cold. Oh man, what an adventure, what an adventure you’ve had and you it’s gone from real estate to MTV, and where is your focus now? What are you working on now so right now I’m into social media advertising.
I’m, not that I’m a little less drones. I’ve, just realized that the drone is just a tool, and I want to have a more tools in my toolbox. So now I’m really into mirrorless cameras really into drones, got into fashion photography, fashion, videoing product photography stuff, like that.
I’ve, been doing that a lot and I’m, really digging it right now: wow wow wow! You got a lot going on, okay, so let’s, get into some meat and potatoes. All right. Let’s, go. What is your favorite drone matter to zoom ooh? I said zoom, I didn’t, say ya know.
I know I know I I feel a little tension, yeah cuz. What were you gonna say? What’s, your favorite yeah? What’s? Your favorite Mavic? Well, wait! What was your favorite Mavic? I would say my favorite drone for photography.
Still is the Navajo well yeah go that way, but when we first started talking about the Mavericks, what did you say having to pray all the way? No matter what mm-hmm and now it’s funny, because I literally have a backpack in that room with a Mavic to pro-ana Mavic to enterprise and it’s.
The enterprise as a zoom. It just has like the lights and the strobe and whatnot. So yes, you ‘ Ve turned me to the dark side right and what I, what people need to understand about the Maverick to zoom yeah.
It’s, crappy and low light. All that stuff too, but the cinematic shot you can get with that, the parallax I don’t man. I wish I could bring that footage up. I flew around a American flag on top of a mountain zoomed in on it spawn that drone around the flag.
In the background just spins and it looks so creamy it’s. Amazing, oh man, Jake. You are fun to have on the show. Okay, so let’s. Talk about remote ID, really, quick, okay, let’s, do it, but so is maverick to zoom.
Your favorite drone is my favorite, but I do I do on both. They’re like set tools and use little walks. I do on both, but if I’m gonna fly video the zooms going up in the air. Okay, all right. What is the one drone you want to get after everything? You saw today probably that actually I’m.
Sorry, I would say the hotel, but after I saw that waterproof drone, I want the waterproof call really you. I walk out Jon. You know what’s funny about that drone and we’re coming to you live from CES 2020, but and you’ll, see our CES video come out, but that drone that company I feel like in the past, looks Like kind of like a cheap knockoff company, but that drone was legit, it was super legit.
I mean the fact that you could take it apart and Sydney just takes it apart right in front of us and she’s like or you can use it at home as a camcorder or a super-intense security and surveillance system that will auto track.
People like did you see it, hit the waterfall or just go up through that waterfall and flying to the waterfall yeah. He was bending the props and still calibrating oh yeah, that I’m, surprised that you said that.
But you know what that drone has a lot of power and I think it’ll, be fun to fly that thing so alright, remote ID, I think it’s so important for everyone to write intellectual comments that showcase a story of How remote ID would affect them positively or negatively, and they shouldn’t cut copy and paste when they make their comments on the NPRM.
But what are your feelings about the proposed remote ID before the proposal came out? It was kind of exciting to hear we’re gonna have a system make this guys safe for all that other stuff. Once it came out, the first thing that came to me was privacy and how many people are gonna, try to find me and cause trouble.
When I’m flying my journal, because everyone thinks you’re looking in their window, you’re, watching people sunbathe in the backyard, and now they’re gonna have access to know exactly where I’m standing with my controller and come confront me.
I think that’s, bad news yeah. I think it’s, bad news as well. Um it’s, actually something that kind of scares me to be honest with you. What do you think is a good solution? Then I don’t. I don’t think I have a actually yeah well don’t make that public.
I understand you, people can have the wealth officials can have my location, but I don ‘ T want the public to have my location yeah, not at all, and I’m in through a fpv racing now and that is actually going to destroy the FP view.
World I mean you have to fly it in an AMA regulated Park, kudos that becomes a free after they get their waiver right yeah, so that whole sports gonna go yeah yeah. Frankly, I’m. I’m. Not I’m, not excited about remote ID.
I you know. I I’m, a proponent of broadcasts, only no network-based unless it’s like drone delivery, because then they’re, just tracking the drones. They’re, not tracking people right and if law enforcement wants to see.
My location via broadcast Merry Christmas, but not the public right, and how did you feel when you first heard about remote ID when they said not? Did you not see my reaction in the news? You know when, when what’s been three years, they’ve, been talking about our cave, been talking about remote idea.
First time pretty exciting right, we thought we were gonna make the the world a safer place. But now we’re just endangering people in mass surveillance, but anyway, so my tinfoil hat on no, it’s, not that it’s, just it’s.
True, let me ask you a question: if ask away if the FAA were to work with another agency? Well, they’re, a part of d-o-t okay. So what if DoD were to implement a network based system for cars and everyone else could see where everyone else’s? Car was because, like we have so many Tesla’s and V’s now and let’s just say they wanted to sell it as we have network based license plate systems now, so that when you get broken down In the middle of nowhere, someone will come and save you, but really now everyone can see where everyone else is super expensive.
V ‘ S are right and now I can find out where you live. I can track you everywhere. It’s. It’s, it’s, not safe. How do you think that would go over with the general American public? It would never work, they would well.
You know what they would have a loud loud voice, because there’s. So many of us – and I think that’s, what we have to do a remote ID. I think people do have to get up off their butts start typing their own comments and let the FAA – or whoever put this whole thing together.
We need to get out there voice our concerns and revise it. Yeah yeah! Well, I couldn’t, agree more, so everyone listening out there make sure that you comment on the NPRM. It is in the the public comments section of NPRM under remote ID, and the link will be in the show notes below again don’t, cut copy and paste to tell your story: how is it gonna affect you? What do you like? What do you don’t like bees to sync and then tell your story so Jake dude, you’ve, been having crazy success and, honestly, I’m super stoked for you, it’s been a ride.
Thank you, yeah yeah yeah, and I wish everyone to have the same success. I do, but it just takes a lot of Drive and you just got to get out there and do it. If there was one thing you could tell drone.
Pilots, like this is the one thing I really needed to learn before I was successful or the one thing I need to overcome. What do you think that was for me since I’m really into cinematics, I would say don’t.
Just learn to fly the drone understand the camera too, because that camera is what is making you that money that cameras, the one get in, that shot, learn everything about cameras, frame rates, ISO and, of course, learn how to be a pretty cool pilot.
Like Paul cuz. I’ve, seen him fly today or the other day wow thanks wow. I appreciate. When do you see the footage you got? You know we’re riding in this km and I haven’t jumped something since I was probably like 14 or 15 years old.
Okay, maybe I drove my Land Rover a couple times in college. That was a blast there’s, so much fun. That’s. One thing: I love about this communities. You can just travel and hang out with other drone pilots, other people who have similar interests and it’s.
A lot of fun, you know it is, and you actually make me want to go out and take a subject tracking class now cuz. When I saw that drone so close to my can-am, I was like there’s no way. This is possible and you were doing it.
So it was pretty cool thanks man, I won’t shoot that um. Well, I don’t know if you were trying to like softball away in for me to be like hey, you know there’s, a subject tracking class, so yeah check it out.
Actually it’s, gonna be in Austin, Texas in March, but Jake. I really appreciate having you on the show man. Thank you no problem. I had a blast. Thank you. Oh well, that’s. Gon na do it for us today.