The Ascension of Ava Delaine

5 min short

shot entirely on drone

in a single-take

one actor

real-time quick changes

on a 4 story vertical location

Story & Technology

Artistic Risk

“What you see from the drone front is the movie. What was happening behind those walls was a whirlwind of rambunctious nudity and focused determination.”

– Tonya Kay (director, lead actress)

Drone Tech

“We had complete control of all camera settings throughout the 5-minute continuous shot. We had to rack focus as the drone and the actor moved through the windows and each floor. We were shooting on a  (DJI Inspire 2 with a) 25mm lens on the Zen Muse X5 which is a 2x crop factor, and at times all the way open at f2 as the sun started to go down, so pulling focus was essential.  We even racked aperture at points to account for drastic changes in brightness of direct sun, shadow, interior windows, and eventually the rooftop.”

– Andira Chamberlin (cinematographer, drone operator)

Where Story & Tech Combine

Shot entirely on drone in a single take.

The Ascension of Ava Deliane is a female-led, female-centered project boldly revealing a woman becoming more confident, more sexual and more valuable as she ages.

This experimental short marks the directorial debut of Tonya Kay, backed by a diverse, predominantly female team including our female cinematographer/drone operator, writer, producers and sound designer. Eighty percent of the crew is female and 30% are People of Color.

The Ascension of Ava Delaine stars a single actress, Tonya Kay (Jane The Virgin, The Fosters, Lone Ranger), moving through an extremely athletic Empowerment Fantasy. Behind the scenes, the actress performs four real-time quick changes while sprinting up four levels of the vertical location, to meet the drone on a new floor, in new wardrobe, in a new decade of time with a new set of emotions.

All this in just five minutes. In a single take. Shot entirely on drone.

Voyeurism Storytelling

“The Ascension of Ava Delaine tells the story of a woman’s ascent through the major stages of her life in five visual, stylized, non-verbal vignettes, primarily shown through her apartment windows in a nod to the voyeurism storytelling of “Rear Window” (1954).

The choice to film in 5 min single-take drone shot takes inspiration from the technical bravura of cinema’s iconic uninterrupted shots such as the tracking shot in “Wings” (1927), the illusion of a single take in “Rope” (1948), the almost four-minute continuous shot in “Le Boucher” (1970) and above all the single-take Steadicam filming of “Russian Ark” (2002). However, instead of going deeper into a restaurant, a village or a palace in a horizontal movement, The Ascension of Ava Delaine uses drone technology to tell the a story through vertical movement, following a woman’s rise in life as it is externalized through her movement from street level through the four levels of an apartment building.

Every aspect of The Ascension of Ava Delaine is a story about “upwardness”. We see the upward progression of the eponymous Ava not in terms of economic or class mobility but in terms of her journey simultaneously through the years of her life, the floors of her apartment building, and her process of individuation. In American society sexuality is often coded as “low” and Puritan morality as “high”; at the same time, American culture tells women that as they age they become less desirable and less sexual: this film upends the false dichotomies of high vs low, virgin vs whore, and young vs old by showing Ava Delaine rising up with age and experience into her own sexual confidence and self-sufficiency. The story is situated in the tradition of stories of female self-realization like “Shirley Valentine” (1989), “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1992) and “Waiting to Exhale” (1994). The concept of rising as a woman owes a strong creative debt to Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”.”

– Shaula Evans (writer / producer)

Press & News


“Tonya Kay, the star and director of The Ascension of Ava Delaine, is holding a private screening and live chatback with fans on April 26 to debut the single-take film, shot entirely on drone. Linebrink said the event is gaining so much traction Kay plans to hold a series of similar events.”

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Now Playing: Amazon Prime

You can now watch The Ascension of Ava Delaine on Amazon Prime via Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) $119/year.

Ava Delaine on Amazon Prime

“Sure to be breakout star Tonya Kay has released her inventive new short The Ascension of Ava Delaine on Amazon Prime. The entire movie just one all-drone shot and you simply won’t be able to take your eyes off of it. We have a first look at the trailer.”

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Now Playing:

You can now watch The Ascension of Ava Delaine on via Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) $2.99/month.

Ava Delaine on
Now Playing: ISA TV on Xerb

You can now watch The Ascension of Ava Delaine on the Independent Shorts Awards Channel (ISA TV) on via Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) $5.99/month.

Ava Delaine on ISA TV
Distribution with Hewes Pictures

The Ascension of Ava Delaine announces distribution with Hewes Pictures.

Hewes Pictures
AT&T SHAPE Film Awards

Winner:  Shot On Mobile

Screening: Warner Bros Studios Burbank, CA July 22, 2019

Director, Tonya Kay is honored at the AT&T SHAPE Film Awards with mentorship with director Cathy Yan (Birds of Prey) and $10K cash prize.

Film Awards

Inside Look: Ridiculously Difficult Single-Take Filming by Drone

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Cablefax Awards

Director, Star, EP Tonya Kay and DP Andria Chamberlin
Honored at Cablefax Awards Gala

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NO AR Drone Film Fest Brazil

Winner:  Best Concept

Screening: Belo Horizonte, Brazil July 27, 2019

AfterBuzz TV's Popcorn Talk

Director and Actress Tonya Kay discusses the bts details of what went into the making of a single-take, all-drone, award-winning narrative short with host Tami Goveia.  

Watch Episode
Indie Shorts Mag

“The bold, experimenting spirit of Tonya Kay hates all that is safe and boring.” Telling A Story Without Words:  film review

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Festigious Film Awards

Winner:  Best Experimental Film

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Derek Diamond Podcast

Director and Actress Tonya Kay discusses the bts details of what went into the making of a single-take, all-drone, award-winning narrative short with host Derek Diamond.  

EyeCatcher Film Festival

Winner: Best Drone / Small Cam Film
Screening: McAlister, OK Nov 9, 2018

Acceptance Video
Canada International Film Festival

Winner: Best First Time Filmmaker

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30 Female Directors You Should Know

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Free Spirit Film Festival

Winner: Best Original Concept
Screening: McLeod Ganj, India Oct 25, 2018

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DP Andria Chamberlin named Exceptional Woman in Production and Post Production

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Director, Star, EP Tonya Kay named Exceptional Woman in Production and Post Production

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Canada Shorts

Winner:  Award of Distinction

Los Angeles Film Awards

Winner: Experimental Film Honorable Mention

Hollywood New Directors

Winner:  Single-Take / Continuous Shot Film Honorable Mention

Los Angeles Cinefest

Winner:  Experimental & Drone Film Semi-Finalist

Girls Drawin Girls

Storyboard Artist Leslie Abney featured in Independent Shorts Awards Official Selection

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Rose Tinted Shorts Screening

Screening:  American Film Institute
Los Angeles, CA  Oct 21, 2018

Toronto Vanguard

Official Selection


Tonya Kay
Tonya Kay

Lead Actress / Director / Producer / Exec Producer

The Ascension of Ava Delaine marks the directorial debut of established actress, producer and burlesque headliner, Tonya Kay. Tonya Kay draws on her background as a choreographer and stunt coordinator to mastermind the logistical challenges of a “ridiculously difficult” single-take, all-drone short directed non-traditionally as a choreographed dance between location, leading lady and cinematographer.

Shaula Evans

Writer / Producer

Shaula Evans is a screenwriter, producer, poet, playwright, editor and translator, as well as an actor and director. She founded the online writing community The Blackboard (2012-14), is a former reader for the Athena List (2014-15) and a selections jurist for the 2018 Bluestocking Film Series. After living in Canada, France, Japan and South Korea, she currently resides in the United States.

Dennis Ho

Exec Producer

Dennis Ho’s is a writer, producer and director who’s generated numerous successful and award-winning projects. His latest film, A Better Place, garnered 2016 Best Director at the Lyon International Awards, Best Narration Feature with the Los Angeles Movie Awards and Best Independent Film with Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. His roster of projects as a tv producer includes Marvel’s animated TV series, Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Dennis’ experience as a short-form creative includes a legion of on-air promotion and advertising for Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Universal and ABC. He recently wrapped up two other films as Exec Producer for Broken Memories and Day of Days, as well as Qi, his first award-wining documentary.

Andria Chamberlin

Cinematographer / Drone Operator

Andria’s unique visual style is naturalistic, but with cinematic beauty. Her cinematography career has led her to various parts of the world – across Africa, Europe and South America. Looking at so many cultures through the lens, Andria has absorbed a genuine sense of how to tell human stories with a camera. A graduate of Boston University, Andria been working in film for almost 10 years. 

SaraAnne Fahey

1st AD

SaraAnne began her work in Hollywood as a dancer and has worked in film, television, and commercials with many of the best choreographers, directors, and artists in the industry. Today, SaraAnne is expanding her work both in front of, and behind, the camera. She is a valued team player and brings a strong work ethic, contagious energy, and keen insight to each project. 

Jamie Billings

Sound Designer / Foley Artist

Jamie Billings is a sound designer, composer, music technologist, and music producer. With credits creating audio design for AKAI, MIT Game Lab, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and more, her passion for creating music and sound is deep rooted in the need to story tell sound for picture. She lives in NYC and is currently creating sound and music for both film and games, alongside teaching studio recording and post production audio workshops at NYU. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Production and Design from Berklee College of Music in 2012.

Monica Kay

Key Scenic

Monica Kay started her art career painting in New Orleans. After working as a t-shirt airbrush artist in malls and on the beach she then dabbled in custom automotive painting. Monica worked for several years as a scenic artist in film on projects like Disney’s Imagination Movers and the movie The Green Lantern. She now resides in Los Angeles and continues to create art in various mediums.

Rachael Bartlett

Property Master

Typically an actor & voice actor, Rachel has a vast background in the entertainment industry which includes former talent casting for Lucasfilm Ltd., performer/character trainer/articulation specialist for The Walt Disney Co., various contracted roles with the worlds leading film & entertainment studios and a costuming/props specialist, which she tapped into for the work she was honored to do on The Ascension of Ava Delaine.


bts photography by Daniel Sliwa and Juan Hernandez Jr.

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