It was 2015
It was 2015, and the war in Ukraine had been waging for nearly a year, when Black Hawk received a commission from MOTHERBOARD, a subsidiary of VICE, one of the hottest new media properties in the world at the time.
VICE News had been reporting from Ukraine since the Maidan revolution ousted the country's President, and followed through to the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the breakout of war in Eastern Ukraine.
But MOTHERBOARD, a technology focused vertical of VICE, was interested in another, lesser known side of the conflict.
On the heels of a tip, we pitched a story about a group of Ukrainian volunteer soldiers who'd been trying to strap explosives to their home made drones, and using them to attack their enemies.
But in order to give a comprehensive look at how technology was influencing the conflict, we wanted to show the entire scale of the volunteer war effort in Ukraine.
First, we gained access to several Ukrainian volunteer different groups that were openly crowdfunding to build homemade drones for military use in the country's warzone. They were building the drones in small garages or offices using the funds given to them by citizens across the country.
So a film production crew from Black Hawk set out across Ukraine to begin documenting their work. After a week of waiting, and not knowing if the story about the explosive drones was fact or myth, the crew received a phone call.
The person on the other end relayed the information that the Ukrainian volunteers using explosives on homemade drones at war were finally willing to show us what they were doing.
But in order to document it, the crew had to get on the next train to Eastern Ukraine
This was years before homemade drones at war received mainstream attention when ISIS began using them extensively in Iraq.