A Drone Went Bowling. Hollywood Noticed.

An image taken from the video shot at a Minneapolis bowling alley. (Jay Christensen and Anthony Jaska/Rally Studios)
[NYTimes.com – March 11, 2021] A drone flies into a bar, swoops through an adjacent bowling alley and crashes into the pins.

The drone’s operator, who shot the 87-second video in a Minneapolis bowling alley last week to rally support for the business, didn’t expect it to be viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media, or to win high praise from Hollywood directors.

But it was and it did.

Fans of the video, titled “Right Up Our Alley,” marveled at what they said was a remarkable cinematic achievement: a continuous take, shot at high velocity, in tight spaces and without digital effects. (Remember those famous long takes from “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 the director Lee Unkrich, whose 2017 film “Coco” won an Academy Award for best animated feature. “Jaw on the floor.”

The bowling alley where the video was shot, Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater, also has a restaurant, a cabaret theater and a bar that makes “rail cocktails.” It opened in 1936 in a former garage that had serviced Model T Fords.

“Right Up Our Alley,” shot by the drone operator Jay Christensen, was made as part of a project to document well-known businesses around Minnesota that are threatened by the pandemic, said Brian Heimann, a producer at Rally Studios, the Minneapolis production company that produced it.

Mr. Heimann said the video, directed by Anthony Jaska, was shot in a single take with a racing drone — on the 10th try after nine takes. He said the drone survived the dramatic crash at the end.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh my gosh, why would you potentially destroy a piece of equipment like that?’” he said. “But, no, these drones are quite resilient.”

“This kind of wonderful photographic innovation adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema,” wrote Todd Vaziri, a visual-effects artist who has worked on the “Star Wars” and “Transformers” movies. “Just beautiful.”

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