A drone flies into a bar, crashes through an adjacent bowling alley and crashes into the pegs.
The operator of the drone, who shot the 87-second video in a bowling alley in Minneapolis last week to raise support for the company, didn’t expect it to be viewed a hundred thousand times on social media or highly praised by Hollywood directors .
But it was and it did.
Bowling, like baseball, is something many Americans can leave behind, even at a time of intense political polarization. With that in mind, perhaps at such a moment, the country could use such a video.
Fans of the video entitled “Right Up Our Alley” were amazed at a remarkable cinematic achievement: a continuous recording that was recorded at high speed, in a confined space and without digital effects. (Do you remember the famous long takes of “Goodfellas” and “Touch of Evil”? It was a bit like that, but faster and with bowling.)
“This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” wrote director Lee Unkrich, whose film “Coco” won the 2017 Oscar for Best Cartoon. “Pine on the floor.”
It’s also funny: viewers on the way of the drone can be quoted from “The Big Lebowski”, which is arguably – sorry, “Kingpin” – the greatest bowling film of all time.
“My foot wasn’t over the line,” said a woman near the lanes to her bowling partner. “Mark it eight, dude.”
“It’s bowling, there are rules,” replies her partner, a joke from “Lebowski”, the 1998 film. “I don’t count it.”
The bowling alley where the video was shot, Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater, also has a restaurant, cabaret theater, and bar that makes “rail cocktails”. It opened in 1936 in a former garage where Model T Fords were serviced.
“Right Up Our Alley,” recorded by drone operator Jay Christensen, was created as part of a project to document well-known Minnesota companies threatened by the pandemic, said Brian Heimann, producer at Rally Studios, the Minneapolis manufacturing company, who produced it.
“The place is very important to us,” he added. “When we presented the idea to the owner, she was all for it. It was a breeze. “
The coronavirus has been brutal in the Midwest, including Minnesota, a state of fewer than six million that has reported nearly 500,000 cases. During a peak in November, Minnesota was seeing more than 6,000 new cases a day.
(Minnesota bowling alleys were allowed to reopen in January with limited capacity. Mr Heimann said coronavirus protocols were followed during filming, although some people in the video appear not to be wearing masks other than when eating or drinking.)
Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater is also in a neighborhood rioting after the death of George Floyd, the black man who died last May after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer were recorded. The protests sparked riots and several buildings in the city were badly damaged.
Mr. Heimann said the video, directed by Anthony Jaska, was shot in a single shot with a racing drone – the 10th attempt after nine shots. He said the drone survived the dramatic crash in the end.
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh my god, why should you possibly destroy a device like this?’” He said. “But no, these drones are quite resilient.”
Travis Duede, a sous-chef who works at Bryant Lake at night and can be seen on the video, said the company was boarded up or closed for parts of last year and that he was not working for 100 days in the early stages of Minnesota’s lockdown would have.
When he showed up for drone shooting last week, he said he didn’t know what to expect. His boss had previously only described it as “a man shooting a video here with a drone”.
This week, Mr Duede noted that the video was popular on a local Reddit page and was praised by Hollywood A-listeners, including actor Elijah Wood.
“Oh, that’s a lot bigger than we thought,” he said, remembering the thought. “But it was cool because our bar, restaurant and bowling alley got a lot of attention.”
The fans of the video include Mr. Wood and James Gunn, the creative force behind Disney’s film franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy”, who described it as “amazing” in a Twitter post.
“This kind of wonderful photographic innovation adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema,” wrote Todd Vaziri, a visual effects artist who worked on the films Star Wars and Transformers. “Just beautiful.”