Artist Interview: Michael Yutkin

Artist Interview: Michael Yutkin

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Get to Know Artist Michael Yutkin

Michael Yutkin (@Michael_Keeper) is an FAA Certified Drone Pilot based in Los Angeles. He has dedicated his time to recording cityscapes, movies, commercials, music videos, and low-altitude drone productions. Along with checking out his website, feel free to follow him on Instagram.


Tell us a little bit about how you got into drone cinematography. How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been doing camera work for about 7 years now and I found it very useful to learn every tool, every camera rig on set. It took me time to learn advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons of using drones on set. It’s such a great tool if you know how to use it. You can do:

  • Steadicam, 

  • Jib or Crane

  • Russian arm

  • Cable cam

  • Helicopter

shots with the drone if you know how and where to apply it. 

I love working with DPs and Directors who use the whole potential of the drone. In some cases, I like to spread knowledge and come up with camera movements for a certain scene and DPs love it. It gives you so many varieties to use it. 

What are your favorite commissions to date, and who would you love to work with in the future?

I've worked with Martim Vian on Boogie - Everything's For Sale. I think he’s a great DP.

I’d really love to work with Janusz Kaminski and Christopher Nolan.

What inspires a scene for you?

Action that we’re capturing with a camera movement. That moment and that feeling that we emphasize. 

What goes into being a professional drone pilot?

To get a commercial license you need to pass an FAA exam. It takes time to study, it takes time to understand how to read and comprehend sectional charts, airspace maps. I get paid for our experience and expertise in aerial cinematography.

What kind of tools do you use for post-processing? 

If we’re talking about post-production then the process is the same as for the main camera. 

Who inspires you to create; where do you draw your inspiration from?

Creative people around me and new technical challenges. 

Explain some hardships you’ve experienced as a creator.

Non-consistence of well-paid work. It’s either feast or famine.

How do you intentionally record video that stand out from the crowd?

Experience and good teamwork. You can just set up a camera a roll a take but it really takes years of practice to deliver professional usable footage. 

When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

Trying to keep everything as planned as possible. When it comes to shooting with the drone it’s safer to do technical scouts and plan on your camera movement in advance. But instinctual shots happen a lot too because you can’t predict every movement of a talent / picture vehicle / etc. I’d say about 70% planned vs 30% instinctual. 

How do you best connect with your clients?

Many of my clients are referrals from the past shoots I’ve done. I think that the most trustful recourse is when someone who recommends me already worked with me in the past.

What has been your proudest moment in your career as a drone pilot?

When my work for Jay Z came out. Can’t say it was the most difficult shoot I’ve done, but one of the most famous ones. Another reason to be proud is when I see my name rolling in the end of a movie I did as a drone pilot.


Focal Collective: Artist Interview Series

Focal Collective would like to thank our contributing artists! This recurring propensity to create and growing community continues to inspire us. Are you interested in sharing your story? Feel free to apply to our Artist Interview Series with your portfolio, IG, and a brief introduction via our contact page. We'll look out for your message!

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