Turns out Katsu’s drone paintings were just the beginning — a video director who went viral last year with his aerial footage of NYC is organizing the First Annual New York City Drone Film Festival.
Randy Scott Slavin, a director of ads for brands like the Tribeca Film Festival and music videos for bands like Foo Fighters and Alabama Shakes, said he hit on the idea while looking for film festivals that might be interested in “Aerial NYC.”
Since deciding to start his own festival and putting out a call for submissions, the Long Island native, who now lives in Murray Hill, has gotten 150 submissions of films five minutes and under. His judging panel will likely winnow those down to about 40 or 50 by the time the festival opens March 7 at the Directors Guild of America Theater.
The submissions range from amateur drone enthusiasts to accomplished filmmakers like Philip Bloom, who submitted footage of his Thailand travels. Some of the works have already found an audience online: Slavin singles out Corridor Digital’s “Superman with a GoPro” as “an example of what drone cinema can be” — “I get goosebumps everytime I see it,” he says.
The goal of the film festival is simple: “We need to remove this negative stigma – this spying, killing thing people associate with drones — and we need to appreciate it for the amazing cinematic tool that it is,” Slavin says.
Drone cinema is becoming increasingly commonplace — just yesterday my brother Pablo Maurer, a photographer of sports and abandoned buildings, texted to tell me he had purchased a drone to shoot videos like this flyover of a former tuberculosis sanitarium in Glenn Dale, Maryland.
But Slavin insists that even those familiar with drone photography aren’t fully aware of its capabilities. “A lot of people are probably under the misconception that it’s just, you can do these really simple aerial things — but the reality is that this is a new tool.”
Comparing the drone to “a tripod without legs,” Slavin says that landscape photography is just one of the categories that will be featured in the festival. Other categories will highlight architecture, narrative, “X factor,” and technical ability. Each of the films consist of at least 50-percent drone footage.
Slavin wants his festival to eventually become the Cannes or Sundance of drone cinema. “We’re right right in the very beginning of this,” he says, “and every year we’re going to see new things.”