The PJ Tatler

First Drone Film Festival Set for New York City Debut

On Feb. 21, New York will host the first film festival featuring only movies that have been shot by drones.

The New York City Drone Film Festival will showcase the “most famous viral drone videos alongside original content, offering the only opportunity to see the ‘best of the best’ in drone and unmanned aerial vehicle cinema on the big screen,” according to organizers, including “sensations” that have racked up some 28 million views on YouTube.

Festival prizes will be awarded for Most Beautiful Shot, Most Technically Difficult Shot, Most Epic Dronie and more.

“I’m tired of drones being synonymous with questionable legality and FAA regulation,” festival founder Randy Scott Slavin, a director and photographer, said in a statement. “The goal of the festival is to celebrate the art of aerial cinematography.”

Drone-rights attorney Paul Fraidenburgh will deliver a keynote address to the festival.

Entries must be submitted to the festival by Nov. 30.

Over the summer, the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International lobbied the Department of Transportation to accelerate the use of drones in the film and television industry. The Federal Aviation Administration announced in May that certain “low-risk” commercial endeavors utilizing drones could be fast-tracked to approval.

“The seven production companies seeking exemptions have outlined at least an equivalent level of safety over the use of a manned aircraft and have adequately addressed the safety requirements in a number of federal aviation regulations,” AUVSI argued in its statement to the government. “In fact, the use of small UAS will likely lead to increased safety over manned aircraft and allow production companies to get new shots that have never before been possible.”

At the end of September, the FAA granted the request.

“The FAA’s announcement represents another important milestone in unlocking the commercial potential of UAS technology. The film and television industry has safely used UAS technology abroad for years in the productions of movies such as ‘Skyfall’ and ‘The Hunger Games.’ With this decision, Hollywood will now be able to capture the unique perspectives of UAS closer to home,” Michael Toscano, president and CEO of AUVSI, said at the time.

“Still, the FAA can and must do more. Several other companies and industries have requested exemptions to fly for various low-risk, commercial purposes such as precision agriculture and mining surveys. The FAA should grant these exemptions to not only help businesses harness the tremendous potential of UAS, but also help unlock the economic impact and job creation potential of the technology.”