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Filming From the Sky: Sky Lakes Media

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Credit: Mark Unger

The sloping yellow hills and green, forested peaks of Oregon glide hundreds of feet below like colored wrinkles in the Earth. Somewhere there’s a sliver of water weaving its way through the mountains.

This shot is achieved by an aerial drone, flown by Mark Unger, founder of Sky Lakes Media and run with his wife. Unger’s experience with film is lifelong and still growing. Shooting a documentary in Eastern Oregon in June, he’s shot films throughout the state, capturing breathtaking views from aerial drones.

“My Owyhee Aerial Documentary is a dream I have had ever since I flew my first camera drone in 2013,” he says about his current project. “Growing up I had spent many weekends there with my family on camping trips to explore the area. When I mentioned the idea of filming this to my dad three years ago he said he remembers me as a kid wishing I was superman so I could fly over the area to see everything.”

Unger and his wife took seven days to film the Owyhee area. He describes it as an “incredible adventure that was topped off with a boat ride on the Owyhee Reservoir to film all the canyons that where not accessible by driving along the rim of the canyon.”

Growing up with an interest in photography, filming, and the outdoors, learning how to capture nature from a different angle through RC airplanes came easy to him. “When I flew a friend’s camera drone the first time in 2013 I was totally hooked and knew in an instant that I was in deep,” he says. Sky Lakes Media has explored multiple genres in film, such as capturing events to Oregon’s beauty.

“This is my first documentary and it is all aerial for the most part and will be accompanied by the music of Matt and Rebecca Stuart of Minstrel Streams,” he says. “I use aerial shots whenever I can in our videos. The motion that a camera drone makes will rival the most expensive camera gibs on the market. Our niche in the market is having an eye through the lenses perspective without having to actually fly.” Power lines, trees, and birds present challenges to filming primarily in the air, although these objects can also enhance the shot.

Although they’re contacted often by those interested in aerial filming, they prefer to film, edit, and produce each one of their films themselves. However, that doesn’t mean they’re closed off to other experienced and talented professionals. “There are a lot of pilots out there that reach out to us for work,” Unger says, “but there is a huge difference between a hobbyist pilot and a pilot that flies from a cinematography standpoint.”

This type of filming is very technical, but there’s a great deal of passion that goes into it. “My true passion is filming the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and sharing it with the world,” he says. “The videos we have made showing the beauty of the place we live in has changed people’s lives––from the elderly lady that thought after her husband passed that she would never get to see the upper Rogue River again and then thanking us profusely for making her day, to the gal that is paralyzed from a recent accident and has been fighting depression, thanking us for being her arms and legs allowing her to revisit places she thought she would never see again and giving her inspiration to try and get out to enjoy life.”

Unger considers his work a “blank canvas” God is allowing him to paint over with the beautiful landscapes he captures. “If one of my videos changes someone’s day or outlook on life, then I feel totally successful in the personal joy I get out of reading the comments stating the difference I have made to someone that I have never met.”

To check out Sky Lakes Media’s work, visit their website here: https://www.skylakesmedia.com.


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