In just a few short years drones have gone from novelty to nuisance, swarming local events and crashing into apartment buildings. But don’t pull out your old Little League bat just yet– drones can also be great tools for filmmakers. As any Casey Neistat fan can tell you, you can get some jaw-dropping shots with even a low-priced model, a smart phone, and some spare time. 

All of this is no surprise to Randy Scott Slavin, creator of the New York City Drone Film Festival. The first and biggest fest of its kind has only grown since 2015, when B+B wrote about the first installment. The third one takes place March 18 and 19.

In 2015 people were already getting some serious, professional footage with their personal drones. Now drones can fly farther, stay in the sky longer and shoot in 4k, which means these independent films are getting that much more impressive. Just look at this promo video for the festival.

Each drone film nominated will be placed into 13 different categories including Best Narrative Film, Best News/Documentary Film, Best Extreme Sports Film, and Best Dronie – a selfie taken with a drone. In the video preview you can see just a few of the close to 40 different nominated titles, including “Cala d’en Serra – Drone Parkour,” “Drone Star Wars,” “Balance,” and others. The nominees come from all over the world. Check out the full list of selections here.

The award ceremony will be held on March 18 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The following day, dubbed “the annual Day of Drones,” will consist of panels offering information and advice to all levels of drone-film fanatics, from “Drones 101” for beginners, to more advanced training on matters like “getting the most from your Red Epic sensor.”

Rogue drone spying on the masses

Drones are steadily becoming a part of society. Soon they may be as commonplace as a pet. “This is Baxter,” you’ll say, “my new Phantom 10.” We will certainly all soon be getting our Amazon packages delivered by drone, and once Seamless gets on the drone-train the skies of New York will darken with buzzing delivery bots. In the meantime, it’s best to appreciate drones as a tool for creating something beautiful. Head to the NYC Drone Film Festival website to buy tickets.