The campers gathered around the drone, excited to see how it worked. The two counselors, experts on drone operations, patiently explained to the curious young people, and handed over the controls. Gradually, the the little Mavic Air rose into the air.
The counselors were Bradley Gantt and Ruan Du Plessis, part of CSD’s Creative team. They spent some of their summer at the Deaf Film Camp at Camp Mark Seven in New York, teaching filmmaking, editing, and drone operations. CSD was a primary sponsor of the camp, and also supported Bradley and Ruan’s participation.
Bradley and Ruan were able to share with the campers their own stories of how they became filmmakers. They have known each other since they were fifteen years old, and they showed the campers the very first movie that they ever made together. This gave the campers a feel for how far Bradley and Ruan have come, and provided inspiration for how far the young people watching can still go.
In addition to the Mavic Air, the campers learned about the Sony A72 camera, the DJI Osmo X5, and the DJI Inspire 2. Bradley said, “They asked me if Hollywood uses that equipment and I said yes. They were surprised. But we wanted them to experience the real world.”
It wasn’t all about technology though. The camp provides opportunities for growth and leadership as well. Bradley was especially impressed with one girl who was a director for a short film project. She was hesitant at first, but grew into the role. “She showed great leadership and balance,” Bradley said. “She made sure that her team was okay, and it resulted in an excellent, beautiful film.”
Ruan said, “When I told them that each of them could operate the Mavic Air drone, I could see they were very excited as they impatiently waited for their turn. That moment when I gave them the controller — I could see the joy in their eyes.”
The campers knew that there were some random white lines on the field in front of them but they couldn’t make sense of what the lines were supposed to represent. As they navigated the drone high into their air, the video it shot made it all clear. The white lines formed an enormous “I love you” handshape.
With new technical skills, confidence, and a change in perspective, the young Deaf campers were able to see something they couldn’t see before. And we can’t wait for them to show us what else there is to discover.