The New York City Drone Film Festival has been one of our favorite nights of the year. It started with an ambitious idea: Could a platform normally used by amateurs to put EDM songs over shaky footage of the beach be used by filmmakers to create something people actually want to watch?
Three years ago, the answer was a resounding "sorta." The first NYCDFF had some groundbreaking ideas but was still largely populated by films about dudes doing snowboard jumps.
"Our first year, most films were almost like music videos—no voiceover or sound effects or narrative. Just landscape videos with music," the festival's director, Randy Scott Slavin, told me on a recent phone call. "No videos are like that this year. All have some element of voiceover, storyline, sound effects."
This is all a long way of saying drone-shot movies are good now, and it's largely because Slavin gave filmmakers a place to challenge and one-up each other. And I'm proud to announce that Motherboard will be partnering with Slavin to bring you a sister event, the inaugural Los Angeles Drone Film Festival. I've watched a handful of the entrants, and aside from being genuinely entertaining, they're pushing the boundaries of how we make movies, tv shows, and commercials today. Drones have an Oscar, so it's time to accept them as a core component of Hollywood.
"LA is the capital of the film industry, and aside from the fact so many productions are based there, some of the most excellent drone cinematography is out there," Slavin said. "The submissions for LA have been the best I've seen thus far."
I can vouch for that too—so, if you happen to find yourself out west on December 2, come say hi at the Downtown Independent Theatre. Tickets are available here, but if you can't make it, Motherboard will be screening some of the best entrants over the next few weeks on our video platforms.