Take Flight with These 25 Drone Films From the NYC Drone Film Fest


A sped-up shot from “Aerial NYC” by Randy Scot Slavin

Randy Scott Slavin is something of a drone evangelist.

“People have never seen the inside of a volcano before. But drones have gone there,” the filmmaker says of the airborne, remote-controlled computers. “There are so many ways these technologies can be used for good.”

That’s why Slavin founded the New York City Drone Film Festival, which has just announced its lineup of screenings at the prestigious Directors Guild of America Theater in Manhattan on March 7.

As far as Slavin knows, the festival is the first of its kind. A team of six selected 35 short films for the screening, divided into categories ranging from landscape and narrative to architecture and travel. All the films, of course, were shot with drones.

“I want this to be the place to see and be seen when it comes to drone cinema,” Slavin says, adding that he wants New York to be the Cannes or Berlin of the drone world. The films, selected by a panel of four festival organizers and two independent judges, include work from artists from all over the world.

“We really didn’t know what to expect … there’s a lot of good stuff out there,” says Stuttgart, Germany–based filmmaker Florian Fischer, who directs drone films with a small, labor-of-love production company, Behind the Mask. Fischer and his partners sent seven short films to the festival. Four were accepted. “We definitely didn’t expect that.”

One of those films is this “dronie,” or a selfie made with a drone, starring Michael Kugler:

In dronies, cameras start close on their subjects, then zoom out revealing the whole setting. Fischer, whose dronies will soon be featured at Germany’s prestigious Museum of Applied Art in Frankfurt, explains: “It’s always revealing something interesting by flying backwards.”

Over the last several years, drone technology has been more associated with more controversial topics than aerial selfies — stuff like targeted airstrikes in the Middle East (and unexpected landings on the White House lawn), rather than film or art. But Slavin, who also makes his own drone films like the one below, wants to change that.

“We want to take the word ‘drone’ out of the mud and make it awesome and friendly,” he says.

Slavin can often be found flying his drone on Long Island or on Manhattan basketball courts, where onlookers are typically more intrigued than scared. “Whenever I fly my drone, people want to touch it, they want to see it, kids want to fly it,” he says.

Part of that plan to improve perceptions about drones involves actually giving some away to filmmakers, as well as audience members.

The festival, which has received attention from the New York Times and New York Post, will be awarding state-of-the-art drones to the winners on the day of the festival.

No more tickets remain for the screenings, but those in attendance will have an opportunity to take home a drone of their own. Twenty-five “baby drones” made by Blade, a leading manufacturer, will be raffled off during the festival. Slavin says he may even give away some larger drones. “The idea that somebody comes in as a fan and walks away with a huge drone? That’s exciting to me,” Slavin says. “The prizes are crazy. That really was my intention, so people can spend all year next year working on their films so that they can submit.”

So will people at the after-party be flying their new toys?

“No,” says Slavin. In fact, the entire festival will be a no-drone-flying zone. “Everybody should take the drones they win and fly them at home.”


Tiny Boston from Federico Creatini, Above Summit on Vimeo.


Mont St Michel from Mike Gisselere, FREEWAY PROD on Vimeo.

Graffiti City from Isabelle Vallee, Social Web Studio on Vimeo.

The Fallout from Jeffrey Brink, AeroCine on Vimeo.


Noway I missed “R” from Lukas Sygula (not found online).

Our Drone Future from Alex Cornell on Vimeo.

Superman with a GoPro from Corridor Digital on YouTube.

Himalayan Aerials by Jonathan Miller on YouTube.


Columbia River Gorge Dronie from Dirk Dallas on Vimeo.

Floating from Michael Kugler, Behind the Mask on Vimeo.

Blocking from Michael Kugler, Behind the Mask (not found online).

Stranded from Michael Kugler, Behind the Mask (not found online).

Our NYC drone film festival “dronie” submission. Spooning on the spoonbridge. Song… Underdog by spoon

A video posted by Mike Welsh (@skycandystudios) on

Spooning in the Spoon from Michael Welsh on Instagram.

Mt. Bromo from Laudrick Samuel Parulian (not available to public online).

Poursuite from Capitaine Citron on Vimeo.

FPV/Proximity/Technical Flying

FPV — Balinese from Justin Welander on Vimeo.

Opening Sequence For A Feature Film from Ben Tewaag (not found online).

Soothing Madness from Carlos Puertolas, CHARPU on Vimeo.

MMMMMMM/Santa Monica Airlines from Robert McIntosh on Vimeo.


Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, New Zealand from Brendon Dixon on Vimeo.

Adriatic from Mike Gisselere (not found online).

Jinxi Welcomes Yo from Pierre Haberer (not found online).

Above and Below the Galapagos from Behind the Mask on Vimeo.

African Flight from Kevin Maor (not found online).

Koh Yao Noi from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


Effektfabriken Aeriels from Per von Koch on Vimeo.


Showreel 2014 from Mike Gisselere (not found online).

Skynamic Reel from Julian Glockner, on Vimeo.


Pipeline Winter from Eric Sterman on Vimeo.

DJI Phantom Flies Into Volcano from Shaun O’Callaghan on YouTube.

The Ridge from Danny Macaskill, Cut Media, and Stu Thomson on YouTube.

Mexico City International Airport from Above from Tarscicio Sanudo on YouTube.

100% Extremely Drone from Allison Hunter (not found online).

I Won’t Let You Down from OK GO on YouTube.