Pilot Spotlight: Interview with Lauren Guarneri
Company: Lauren Guarneri Films
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Lauren Guarneri, and I have a love for storytelling! I've always been obsessed with movies for as long as I can remember, and I've been writing my own stories since before I even knew how to spell. I started my journey to become a film director about 3 years ago, and I've been directing mostly music videos for local artists around Montreal.
I have been flying drones since 2017, and in 2020 I got certified, insured, and started my own company to fly drones in films and promotional content. I'd love to be able to work on environmental documentaries to use my talents for climate justice. I'm also certified in scuba so that I can provide on the ground, above ground, and underwater footage.
What inspired you to begin flying drones, and what made you want to enter the industry as a drone pilot?
I was inspired to fly drones because I am a tech nerd and I already worked in the film industry. Naturally, drones popped up on my radar pretty quickly. I was always mesmerized by aerial footage and thought it'd be a great and cinematic way to capture my travels and practice honing my video making skills. It took a couple of years, but I bought my first second-hand drone in 2017 and began traveling with it.
When I started working on bigger sets as a production assistant, I was able to meet professional drone pilots and told them I had a drone and loved flying it. They immediately pointed out there was a need for women in the industry. After that, nothing could stop me. I got my advanced certification from Transport Canada and started working as a drone operator almost instantly. I started my own company providing aerial production services this year, so it's only the beginning of something great.
What were you doing before you started flying drones, and what made you make the transition?
I had just graduated from university with a degree in communications and was lost about where to start my career and in what. I was thinking about working in an office but knew I would never be happy doing that. I had to own my creativity and at least not be scared to try a job in the creative field, so I started to focus on filmmaking and directing. At that point, I was using drones for fun, but it quickly turned into a career opportunity.
What drone(s) are you currently flying, and what drone accessories do you love?
I have the Mavic 2 Pro, and I absolutely love the Polar Pro cinema series filters. Living in a country with this much snow, bright and sunny days can get you blown out footage pretty easily, so filters are a must!
What is your favorite feature on your drone and why?
I usually control and film manually, but I have to say I love the hyperlapse feature! It can capture such eye-grabbing footage, and all you have to do is set it up and let it do its thing. I also love sport mode, so I can film action with speed.
What drone images are you most proud of and why?
I mostly do video, but I've been getting into aerial photography in the last couple of months, and I have to say, I'm a fan. I'm pretty proud of my images of Saint Joseph's Oratory and the Percé Rock. I love these because they were both filmed at sunrise and they both capture the essence of calm and serenity.
Have you learned any valuable lessons from being in the drone industry that you can share with our female drone community?
I've learned that your credibility is often questioned, but you can't let it bother you. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a woman or my age, but it happens often that people question me before they even see my work or meet me in person. The biggest thing you can do is let the anger and frustration go and come at it with a professional tone. That way, you can sort of give an implied 'I told you so' when you show them what you can do.
Whether it's from a creative, commercial, or humanitarian perspective, tell us about your most memorable drone flight you have piloted thus far.
My most memorable has to be a commercial shoot I did for a school. All the kids thought what I was doing was so cool, and they were asking me so many questions about how I do what I do, so I can't help but hope I inspired a few of them.
What would you say to women and girls about the drone industry to spark their interest in getting involved?
Don't be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. It's intimidating at first, but the fact that you may sometimes be the only woman in a sea of men is kind of a rush and makes you stand out. Use that to your advantage. Tech is not only a guy thing, and it's okay to like it too.
What excites you most about more women joining the drone industry?
The fact that there will be more female perspectives in films and cinematography. I think the industry is severely lacking that, and there's just something different about the female eye.
Do you have any drone tips & tricks you can share with our audience?
If you live in a cold climate, that doesn't mean you can't drone at all. Check the temperature range of your drone and always carry hand warmers for your batteries to make sure they're warm and ready for a flight. Also, I turn down the sensitivity of my joysticks so that I don't get choppy footage if I brake or turn too fast accidentally. But be warned: that also means slower reaction times if you need to stop quickly.
What's the best way for our readers to get in touch with you?
You can visit my website laurenguarnerifilms.com and all my contact information is on there!
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
I want people to know that it's just the start! If you want to collaborate on a project — especially if it's on the topic of sustainability, preservation, and protection — just get in touch with me through my website!
Lauren Guarneri is a director, writer, editor, and commercial drone operator based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Her all-around passion and dedication to her craft have made her a prominent figure in the Montreal film scene. She is also president of her own production company offering aerial video and photo services.