March 24, 2023

Technology is nothing to fear–at least, according to documentary producer turned film director Vanessa Elliott. Instead, Elliott’s new short film, “The Lone Drone,” imagines a more promising future relationship between humans and tech.

“The Lone Drone” is a short, live-action film set in the not-so-distant future, where autonomous drones are as commonplace in households as televisions are today. The story follows a plucky autonomous camera drone that is curious to explore the world for itself. The drone wanders away from its home in the city and makes its way to a great desert, where it meets Sara (XOCHITL GOMEZ DEINES), a lonesome girl who passes the time making toys out of scrap materials. In complete awe, Sara leads the drone to her desert home, hides it from her mother Sam (ANNETTE LUNA), and secretly repairs it. Equipped with a desire to explore and a dream to save her family, Sara runs away from home with the drone in tow. During their spectacular adventure, this unlikely duo discover common ground between humankind and machine .

“THE LONE DRONE” OFFICIAL TEST REEL from Vanessa Elliott on Vimeo.

“The Lone Drone” is written and directed by Vanessa Elliott, a Filipino-American filmmaker born and raised in California, and is the result of her affinity for science and nature. This film is an effort to understand the ways in which our lives are changed or shaped by new technologies. Elliott’’s interest in STEM grew out of a love for viewing the natural world through various lenses — like the microscope she received on her 10th birthday and the digital camcorder she borrowed from her parents. She fell in love with entertainment watching classic films with her father, and at age nine decided she wanted to perform on screen. She acted professionally for nearly a decade, appearing in films, commercials, and television shows. Elliott’s interests led her to pursue an education in film and physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduating, she moved to Los Angeles to start career in production and has produced for companies like Vice Media, Netflix, and numerous commercial production companies. As a producer she often hired drone operators, but it wasn’t until she flew a drone herself that she saw firsthand how this technology can help us see and learn about the world. With her creative work, Elliott aspires to explore the intersection of science and human experience.


“The Lone Drone” is Elliott’s first short film, and, for her, the story is deeply personal. “When writing the script, I drew from my own experiences as a kid with a big imagination, as a working woman taking a leap towards my dreams, and my first experience playing with a drone and feeling like a kid again,” said Elliott.

“The Lone Drone” is currently fundraising on Indiegogo. Contributions to the project are tax deductible thanks to the film’s fiscal sponsor, Allies in Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Donate today to promote independent filmmaking and diversity in film and tech.