Looks like all those years playing video games have paid off for Josh Fields. His drone-flying game is strong, and he’s carving out a niche with his aerial footage.
Tell us about Hatch 86 Films.
Hatch 86 Films is a Bay Area video production company dedicated to creating many types of videos — music videos, short films, commercials, and more. As the creator of Hatch 86 Films — and with the company still in its early stages — I work on the majority of projects myself. However, for larger projects I have a small team of talented individuals that I resource to help both on-set and in editing. Our mission is to create captivating videos that inform, inspire, and ignite a passion in our viewers.
What’s in a name: why Hatch 86?
Hatch 86 was created in 2002, when I began filming and editing skateboarding videos with my friends. When my buddy Karl and I were thinking of a good name for our group and videos, we came up with “Hatch 86” since all the members of our group were born (or “hatched”) in 1986. Since then, the name has always meant a lot to me, so when I was creating the production company in 2013, it was only right that “Hatch 86” lived on.
Your aerial work is amazing. What was your learning curve like?
I picked up flying a drone pretty quickly. I can probably attribute my skills to playing a lot of video games when I was younger. Had I known this would be part of my career, I would have used that as an excuse to tell my mom I needed to play even more video games!
I’ve never had any real challenges with flying drones, other than trying to stay up-to-date on ever-changing laws and drone regulations. It seems like they are constantly changing, and more no-fly zones are popping up.
How have drones changed the game for you?
Drones single-handedly catapulted Hatch 86 Films. I was getting filming gigs here and there, but as soon as I got my first drone and people saw my aerial work, I started getting booked left and right. Drones have enabled me to get shots that were once only possible with helicopters, even when working with a smaller budget. Aerial shots have become my go-to for establishing shots when storytelling.
What I love about working with drones is that they take away a lot of limitations. With a small amount of equipment, you can achieve many different things: jib shots, steady cam, POV shots … the sky is the limit! (No pun intended.)
You also make a lot of music videos. What do you like about them? What’s your process?
I’ve always loved music, but I don’t have a musical bone in my body, so creating music videos is my way of feeding my passion.
When I first get the song for the video, I listen to it several times while playing out different ideas in my head. When editing, I listen to the song and let it determine how I edit it, listening to certain instruments or lyrics and having each cut reflect that.
What drew you to stock footage?
I have always shot stock footage in a way, but before Dissolve, I was doing it for fun. Every time I went somewhere new, I was always shooting timelapses or flying my drone. One day I realized I should turn what I love to do and am already doing into something I could make a little money from.
Before Dissolve Liftoff, it was difficult to find the time to sit down, sift through all my footage, color grade, and upload clips. I learned about Liftoff last year at NAB and ever since then, it’s allowed me to spend more time filming and less time at my computer.
How do you get your stock footage?
When I’m bored and between projects, I’ll go out and shoot stock footage. The other day I heard about this old cement ship that’s docked in Aptos, California, that had recently split in half after a storm. The next day I drove out with my drone and got some amazing aerial shots of the ship.
I also film while on assignment if there’s down time, or after a shoot wraps, I might hang around for an hour and get some aerial shots. And I bring a drone with me every time I go on vacation so I can capture things I don’t ordinarily get to.
Generally, I look at landscapes and imagine what people might be interested in. I also look forward to big events that people might want stock footage of. When the Super Bowl was in San Francisco last year, I made sure to get a lot of shots there, and I was in Chicago right before the World Series, so I got shots there as well.
What equipment do you use? Any favorite apps?
I fly a DJI Phantom 3 Professional as well as an Inspire 1 Pro. For bigger projects, I love using the Inspire 1 Pro. With its interchangeable lenses and follow focus, I can create some really cinematic shots. As far as apps go, I use the DJI Go app, but they have a lot of new features, like 3D mapping, which was previously only available from third-party apps.
What are you most excited about in terms of gear advancements?
They’ve pretty much got the control of the drones down as far as stability and handling. What I’m most excited about is the image quality that’s improving with every new drone. It’s already at the point where you can film an entire video on the ground with a drone and no one would know the difference. I can’t wait to see what kind of images drones are going to produce.
What are your three shoot must-haves?
I always have a drone with me, usually the Phantom 3 because it’s small enough to bring along and quick to set up. My other two must-haves are my Sony a7S II and a tripod to shoot timelapses.
Most memorable shoot?
My most memorable shoot was when I flew my drone over the Golden Gate Bridge. This was during my first two weeks of flying a drone, so it was a little bit outside my comfort zone. I shot this before they made it illegal to fly in that area, so it has become footage that isn’t so easy to come by. My favorite specific shot is the one pointed straight down at the bridge as I flew over one of the towers.
Another memorable shot is the San Francisco skyline in silhouette with the sun setting behind it. From where I was, I didn’t know what the shot was going to look like. Once I got the Inspire in the air, I was blown away by the composition. I especially love Sutro Tower in the background and the colors in the sky.
What’s your five-year plan?
I plan on expanding Hatch 86 Films both in terms of number of employees and the reach of the company. I’d love to film for clients all over the world. I plan on shooting with major music artists as well as big corporate companies.