New York City Drone Film Festival (NYCDFF) 2016

The New York City Drone Film Festival 2016, touted as the most important drone film festival in the world, took place at the beginning of March 2016. How did it go?

Late last year we published a comprehensive list of drone film festivals and we predicted that they would become a go-to-event for those with a passion for a bird’s-eye view of the world.

The New York City Drone Film Festival (NYCDFF) is definitely one of the top drone film festivals in the world, and it’s being even referred to as the “Oscars for Drone Flyers and Aerial Cinematographers”.

The Festival held its premier event in March 2015. They had over 150 entries from 19 countries and got a lot of media impressions.

This year those numbers have more than doubled with over 350 submissions from 45 countries.

40 films were chosen by the judges to be a nominee in one of the 12 categories.

The quality of films has risen as aerial cinematographers become more proficient and skilled, but also because they recognize the prestige of winning an award at the New York City Drone Film Festival.

The Festival was founded by director and aerial cinematographer Randy Scott Slavin, with the overall mission of changing the perceptions of drones.

It began as a one-day event, but it was so successful it came back this year for three days. It took place on Friday, March 4th to Sunday, March 6th, 2016.

On Saturday, the Directors Guild of America Theater hosted talks on Drone Tech, Drones and Legality, Integrating Drones into a production workflow, and Creativity and Drones, with guest speakers of the caliber of Gretchen West (Hogan Lovells), Jon Resnick (DJI), Maria Stefanopoulos (ABC News), Randy Jay Braun, Radley Angelo (Spark Aerial).

The day also featured a cocktail hour and the Red Carpet Ceremony. Then came the NYCDFF 2016 screening and afterparty.

Sunday saw a Day of Drones at the Liberty Science Centre, Jersey City where the NYCDFF program was playing throughout the day. Attendees witnessed a Drone Battling Expo as well as an Invitational Drone Racing Expo with FPV Addiction.

Randy Scott Slavin spoke to MetroFocus about the NYCDFF, and his excitement and pride in being involved in this project: “I’m proud of that fact, that if there is one thing we are doing for the drone community, the aerial cinematography community is creating an arena in which, the best of the best can be shown, and therefore, we can progress the art where we can call out winners with the elements that are great about aerial cinematography”.


Categories for the 2016 festival were as follows: Narrative, Landscape, Architecture, Showreel, Technical, Freestyle/FPV, Dronie, Featuring Drones, Still Photography, Extreme Sports News/Documentary and X-Factor.

The 2016 New York City Drone Film Festival Jury consisted of 12 exceptional people from a variety of disciplines in art, media, and technology of the likes of Philip Bloom, Eric Cheng, Scot Refsland and Renee Lusano. 

There were some big hitters among the nominees this year with Cirque du Soleil’s Sparked and National Geographic’s Lava Chaser, Corridor Digital’s The Smallest Empire, Jordan Rubin’s The Drone and NBC News’ coverage of the Nepal Earthquake.

Overall, the movies selected by the Jury showed a move forward to better storytelling. In the interview, Randy explained that “Drones are just a tool, like any other tool in a film-makers arsenal, basically what a drone does is it sets a camera free from gravity, it allows a film-maker to put a camera anywhere in 3D space, that really is its major technical achievement”.

@NYCDRONEFF's Randy Scott Slavin on role of #drones as we move forward in terms of storytellingClick To Tweet

Complete list of Film Festival Nominees in the 2016 Event (winners highlighted in bold):

E.T. Drone Home Taylor Chien (USA)
The Smallest Empire Sam Gorski, Corridor Digital (USA) – Winner
Call to the Wild George Bruce Wilson (USA)
Nostalgia  Tim Sessler, Michael Marantz and Drew English (USA)

Dance Crazy Katee Laine and Drew Roberts (USA) – Winner
Satlapse Jamie Brightmore (United Kingdom)
Chromaticity Paul Trillo (USA)
A Man with a Rake Jehan-Benjamin Tarain (France)

Into the West Mike Bishop (Canada)
Ghent in 2 Minutes Michael Tiger and Michel Blanckaert (Belgium)
Roadtrip: New Mexico  Joe Pickard and Corey Eisenstein (USA)
Wild Scotland  John Duncan (United Kingdom) – Winner

Acrophobia: I’m Afraid of Heights Philippe Woodtli (Switzerland)
The Wind Karim Iliya (USA)
AfterGlow: Lightsuit Segment Nick Waggoner and Mike Brown (USA) – Winner
Teahupo’o Du Ciel Eric Sterman, Brent Bielmann and Surfing Magazine (USA)

Flying Through Dresden  Stefan Mueller (Germany)
All Away  Colin Solal Cardo (France) – Winner
Rise and Shine  Robert McIntosh (USA)
Hello World   Asa Hammond and Tarik Abdel-Gawad (USA)

Dive Dive Dive Steele Davis (USA)
Hawaiiballs Chad Nowak (Australia)
Office Space Jonathon Davis (USA)
Abandonado Carlos Puertolas (USA) – Winner

Desert Fortress Jeffrey Worthington (USA)
Greystone Rising Jody Johnson (USA) – Winner
1500′ TV Tower Todd Thorin (USA)
Harness the Sun Jordan Overman (USA)

Zombie vs. Drone Alrik Bursell (USA)
Sparked Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich and Verity Studios (Switzerland) – Winner
Drone Blender Damien Gallagher and Billy May (United Kingdom)
The Drone Jordan Rubin (USA)

Dronie Proposal Tarsicio Sañudo Suarez (Mexico)
Dronie Marietas Tarsicio Sañudo Suarez (Mexico)
Drone in Barrel Eric Sterman and Jamie Obrien (USA)
The Shark Dronie Florian Fischer (Germany) – Winner
A Man, a Rake and a Drone Jehan-Benjamin Tarain (France)

This Is Tilt Tilt (Norway)
Skynamic Pilot Reel Skynamic (USA) – Winner
Close to the Mountain Yann Havis (France)

Drones: Hidden Worlds: Son Doong Cave by Good Morning America (USA) – Winner
Nepal Earthquake Abraham Villela / NBC News (USA)
Lava Chaser  Sam Cossman, Jeff Hertrick and National Geographic (USA)
Expedition Alaska Brian J. Leitten (USA)

Iceland From Above Stefan Forster (Iceland)
Al Marmoum Camel Racing Shoayb Khattab (United Arab Emirates) – Winner
Chicago Bean Dirk Dallas (USA)
Sunrays in the Mist (Estonia)
Mont Saint Michel Jérémie Eloy (France)