A videographer captures never-before-seen angles of abandoned buildings by filming them from above

An abandoned mansion. Jason Allard
  • Jason Allard is a videographer based in Rhode Island.
  • He has a passion for finding long-abandoned buildings, and he captures them from above using a drone.
  • Some of the places he’s visited include a mansion, a theme park, and school – all abandoned.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Videographer Jason Allard loves abandoned buildings. Since college, he’s frequently explored the abandoned buildings around his home in Rhode Island and the New England area. Using a drone, Allard captures buildings such as mansions, theme parks, and schools from above in ways they have never been seen before.

Insider spoke to Allard about the process of finding and filming these buildings, and why he’s so passionate about it.

Jason Allard is a videographer and editor based in Rhode Island.

Jason Allard. Jason Allard

Allard is currently working full time as a video production manager at a marketing firm in Boston – he loves to explore abandoned buildings in his free time. While in college, Allard learned about the Chernobyl disaster, which kick-started his passion for deserted places. He then realised there was so much hidden history around him in the New England area.

“It made me want to explore similar places locally and research their history and find out why they’re abandoned,” Allard told Insider.

Allard finds the abandoned places by scouring Google Earth and the internet. “There are some forums that I go on. With the internet now, people are posting so many photos of urban exploring.”

An abandoned neighbourhood. Jason Allard

Because of his series, people will also recommend places to him that he should visit.

“But I can’t just visit every abandoned place — they have to have some historical significance,” Allard said.

Abandoned bear dens. Jason Allard

“I have to make sure there’s a story to tell. I can’t just go to any abandoned place,” Allard said. “There are abandoned gas stations, abandoned fast food places, but those don’t have the same weight as something like an abandoned mansion or drive-in theatre or train station. When I do the research I try to make sure there is history, there is a story that can connect with people,” he explained.

That’s why one of the first abandoned buildings Allard explored was his own middle school, which he filmed a documentary about.

Abandoned summer resort. Jason Allard

Allard started exploring other abandoned buildings, like the summer resort pictured above, and taking pictures using his DSLR camera. Allard quickly realised there was an opportunity to tell the stories in a different way, kicking off his “Abandoned From Above” video series.

“To view these places from above gives a completely new perspective and kind of new appreciation for these places,” he told Insider.

That’s also why he picked the now-closed Enchanted Forest theme park he visited as a kid.

The abandoned Enchanted Forest park. Jason Allard

The theme park was one of the first abandoned places he visited in college, but Allard returned in the past year to document the park for his series. He had visited the park as a kid with his parents, before it closed in the ’90s, and remembering it in its heyday filled him with both nostalgia and sadness. Now, nature has started to reclaim the park.

“A lot of places I visit I don’t have a connection with specifically because I didn’t go there when I was growing up,” Allard said, but Enchanted Forest was different. “I know that there was once kids running around here having fun with their parents,” like he once had.

To capture his aerial shots, Allard uses a small DJI Spark drone.

An abandoned horror park. Jason Allard

For his videos, Allard will try to get a combination of aerial shots and on-the-ground footage to tell his story. Sometimes though, the building may be structurally unsound and unsafe to enter.

“Some of the places I visit are not safe to access, so obviously I’m not going to endanger myself, so flying the drone [is] a good compromise,” Allard said. “You can really scope out the place and get those shots capturing its abandonment and what it looks like today.”

“This project really lends itself to flying a drone because you don’t have the hazard of flying over a crowd of people,” Allard said.

An abandoned convent. Jason Allard

“There are obviously drone restrictions to where you can fly them and to what time you can fly them, but the great part about filming abandoned places is that the airspace above these places is public,” Allard said. “Normally there aren’t any airports nearby so you don’t really need to get permission to fly over them because there’s no one around. There’s no crowd.”

A video project like this abandoned federal bank can take Allard up to a month to complete.

An abandoned federal bank. Jason Allard

“It really depends on how large the place is, how much of a story [there] is to tell. It took us two days of filming inside the bank and getting drone shots,” Allard said. “Whenever I go to an abandoned place, I’m filming for at least two hours straight.”

Aerial shots from the drone can cast a new perspective on abandoned buildings, like the Bells Mansion. “It really captures the decay around some of them,” Allard said.

An abandoned mansion. Jason Allard

The Bells Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, is located on the water and is almost completely hidden by trees. “You walk up to it and there’s trees around, so you get a sense that it’s kind of encased in this small forest. Taking the drone up you can see this building is completely covered in ivy and it really looks like something out of a movie.”

The main reason Allard is passionate about his project is because it’s preserving the history of rapidly decaying establishments.

An abandoned beach mansion. Jason Allard

“The original uses that these places had, it’s never going to go back to that,” Allard said. “You can try to preserve its history and hope that eventually it does get repurposed into something new where people can make new memories again.”