Omer Fast — 5,000 Feet is the Best

The production of Omer Fast’s 5,000 Feet is the Best took us to interesting places. It started with a small team, a large Ford, and a journey to Las Vegas, where we met up with Fast to research the much discussed and mostly opaque drone pilot program. Secret interviews, pseudonyms, a call from the FBI, and an unusually large quantity of hard drives made our trip surreal. From there, we worked with the artist to research and produce a film that put us in touch with exceptional individuals and astounding concepts. The thirty-minute film is based on two meetings with a Predator drone sensor operator that were recorded in a hotel in Las Vegas in September 2010. On camera, the drone operator agrees to discuss the technical aspects of his job and his daily routine. Off camera and off the record, he briefly described recurring incidents in which the unmanned plane fired at both militants and civilians — and the psychological difficulties he experienced as a result. Instead of looking for the appropriate news accounts or documentary footage to augment his redacted story, the film is deliberately miscast and misplaced: It follows an actor cast as the drone operator who grudgingly sits for an interview in a dark hotel. The interview is repeatedly interrupted by the actor’s digressions, which take the viewer on meandering trips around Las Vegas. Told in quick flashbacks, the stories form a circular plot that nevertheless returns fitfully to the voice and blurred face of the actual drone operator — and his unfinished story.