The Daily Catch

The Power of Community After a Fire: Donations, Phone Calls, Hugs – and a Drone Video

Filmmaker Jeremy Jacob shot a 2:17 drone video Monday to capture the aftermath of the Migliorelli fire (image from drone video).

As they eyed the devastating photos of the Migliorelli Farm fire on Instagram Saturday morning, Jeremy Jacob turned not to their wallet but to their drone.

Would it be helpful, they wondered, if they shot footage of the wreckage from hundreds of feet overhead? They contacted farmer Ken Migliorelli and his daughter, Carly. Absolutely, they replied.

The mini-movie Jacob created, accompanied by moody music they created on a computerized piano, is yet another testament to the raw power unleashed by the fire that leveled Migliorelli’s half-acre barn complex off Budds Corners Road.

It is also a commemorative nod to community.

“Some people give money. Others bring pies. Some stop by to say hello. And I was able to make this video,” said Jacob, a 38-year-old filmmaker who moved last November from Brooklyn to Germantown with their partner, renowned choreographer and Bard performing arts professor Jack Ferver. “Community is built by people doing what they can.” 

Jacob grew up on an industrial chicken farm in Central Minnesota and has always appreciated the joys and challenges of farming. As they drove to the Migliorelli parcel Monday afternoon, they were taken quickly with the scope of the operation and its beauty.

“I could tell this was a big farm,” Jacob said of the vegetable growing operation that stretches year-round for Migliorelli, 63. “And it’s just so beautiful here in the Hudson Valley.”

Jeremy Jacob (photo by Daniel Rampulla).

As they spied the footage that the drone returned in real time, Jacob said they did not feel hopeless. “Fires happen. Things burn down. They are then regenerated and new things happens,” Jacob told The Daily Catch. “Part of the experience for me was seeing that this fire is not going to define them.” 

For their part, those close to Migliorelli also saw beauty in the footage. “It’s exceptional. I especially like the end where it scans across some of Ken’s beautiful fields of grains and vegetables set against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains,” said his fiancé, Jen Howland. “It puts the horrific loss into perspective. ”

Jacob, whose film company A Dolls House Pictures is also based in Germantown, acquired the drone in 2021. They taught themselves to use it and have relied on it for projects throughout the country. They have worked, for instance, with the gourmet grocery shop, Talbott & Arding of Hudson, to add a sense of place to cooking videos. In 2020, working with dancer-choreographer Pam Tanowitz, they used a drone to capture footage of Bard College’s Montgomery Place, where the dance took place. 

For another experimental dance film, Nowhere Apparent, a film inspired by research the AIDS Oral History Project at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, drone footage featuring the Catskill Mountains was used in the final sequence.

Professional projects keep them busy, but it’s rare that the opportunity to serve the community with their technical expertise crops up. “It feels great to help and to create a record of this moment,” said Jacob. 

They look forward, they said, to returning to the farm after the barn has been rebuilt to record that moment, as well.

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