Back in early 2021, Celestial was commissioned by Art for Amnesty to create a unique piece of drone art captured on film to celebrate Amnesty International’s 60th anniversary.
Fifty years previously, Pablo Picasso had drawn a Dove for Amnesty International. This inspired our creative team at Celestial to suggest that we recreate Picasso’s iconic symbol of freedom by assembling our drones in a formation that would see a giant 3D version of the bird flying around the world in a stunning display of hope and liberty.
And so the concept behind the Amnesty International ‘Freedom Flight’ film was born. The aim of the project was to use Celestial’s creative technology combined with immersive cinematic photography, music and poetry, to tell a profound story of connection and solidarity, inspiring new audiences to stand up for universal human rights.
We’re passionate about using our technology for good. To then work for Amnesty International, the largest independent human rights movement in the world, known for its strong ethical values, on such a highly original and creative concept was a dream project for the Celestial team.
Over the course of several weeks, the team at Celestial carefully crafted the script with Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey and his wonderful team.
We had grand ambitions for a global film that could inspire millions. However, due to the lingering Covid pandemic, we quickly realised that travel would be impossible. We therefore set about scouting out talented teams of filmmakers around the world who could capture scenes at sites renowned for their connection to human rights.
These five iconic landmarks included Robben Island in Cape Town, Sydney Opera House, Zócalo Square in Mexico City, Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi and Palais de Chaillot in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted back in 1948.
Generously supported by Amnesty France, Sting, Bono, the Edge and Peter Gabriel, the Art for Amnesty Freedom Flight film production kicked off. While enthusiastic international filmmakers were being handpicked to join the team, animations of the Dove in flight were meticulously designed at Celestial headquarters in Frome.
Several long, cold nights spent at our drone base ensued as our courageous ground crew made preparations for our tech team to fly our flock of 150 drones. Our film crew were then able to capture the giant Dove taking to the skies using ingeniously dynamic camera angles – both from the ground and the air.
It was exciting to watch footage pouring in from valiant film crews in India, South Africa, France, Mexico and Australia. The footage featured dedicated Amnesty leaders and activists releasing drones into the air from each of these locations. Not an easy feat.
To our great delight, we learned that Peter Gabriel would score the film, personally tailoring his classic tune Biko, a resonant song perfectly suited to the tone and message of the project. Nazanin Boniadi, Mia Maestro and Angelique Kidjo voiced the English, Spanish and French versions of the film, a specially commissioned poem, ‘Ode to Amnesty’.
A couple of frantic weeks of editing and visual effects were required to piece the jigsaw together, and the final result is yet another film that we are very proud of. The Art for Amnesty Freedom Flight film is an innovative blend of a ground-breaking drone display and resourceful filmmaking ingenuity born out of the limitations of Covid.
Amnesty International Freedom Flight is Celestial’s latest message of hope, and in some small way, we truly hope it makes a difference to the quest for universal human rights.
We want to say a huge thanks to the global film crews that have helped make Freedom Flight happen against the odds, as well as a heartfelt thank you to the fantastic Celestial ground crew and production team for pulling another rabbit out of the hat in ever-challenging conditions.
Finally, we are incredibly grateful to Art for Amnesty and Amnesty International France for this opportunity. It’s been a wonderful, crazy journey and another giant leap-forward experience for the team at Celestial.