Dronewerx is providing custom-built and ominous-looking drones for “Wake,” an action movie starring Bruce Willis and Ben Kingsley that began filming in the Greater Cleveland area Monday.
Matt Mishak and Mike Hanna, the men behind the company, packed up two of their newly crafted drones and headed out to the east side for the first day of shooting, just a day after they had completed the drones.
Mishak said they also learned one of the first lessons of moviemaking — things don’t always go to plan. They were scheduled to shoot an indoor scene that features their drone prowling through an old country club with dark leather furniture, but problems with getting some earlier scenes completed meant they got bumped from the day’s schedule.
He said they’re slated to return next month to shoot the delayed scene and about 10 others that will feature their drones.
Mishak said it’s just as well that the first day of shooting saw their Hollywood debut pushed off by a few weeks. A test flight of the backup drone ended with a malfunction that knocked the drone out of commission before they even left Lorain County.
“I was a little bit nervous about not having the backup drone, so maybe it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise,” Mishak said.
Mishak was nervous as he did test flights of the drone for the scene, but the craft drew impressed comments from the crew as he carefully piloted it near a fireplace.
“I could tell we hit the nail right on the head,” he said of the drones, which were designed to match the vision of director John Pogue.
In total, the partners plan to build five drones that will allow them to have spares in case something else goes wrong. It will also allow them to reset scenes faster because the drones have a fairly short battery life and changing out the power source can take some time.
Mishak said Dronewerx became involved in the movie thanks to Herb de la Porte, vice president of LifeCare Ambulance, who had his own brush with the movies when he leant some of his personal collection of vehicles to another production. Mishak said de la Porte recommended Dronewerx after learning the “Wake” script called for unmanned aircraft systems, as those who pilot drones prefer to call them.
After some initial conversations, Mishak said he and Hanna began to put their ideas into practice and worked with Pogue to get the look he wanted.
“The look of it, the way it flies, it’s definitely one of the most interesting builds we’ve ever done,” Mishak said.
In a news release from the Greater Cleveland Film Commission issued before shooting began, the film’s executive producer, Frank Hildebrand, praised the Cleveland area as a great place to shoot a movie.
“The thought of shooting a sizable action film in the middle of winter in Cleveland, Ohio, was not the most appealing thought when we first considered our location options,” Hildebrand said in the release. “That was until we came to meet with the local people, crew and vendors and explored the infrastructure.”