About The Drone Cinema Film Festival

With events in the Netherlands coming up this week artist and organizer Kim Cascone took a bit of time to share a bit more about what to expect from the 2018 version of the Drone Cinema Film Festival, kicking off this Saturday in Leiden, then back in the U.S. for a presentation in Seattle. This is his fourth year bringing this unique event to the public, especially those who love the intimacy, and unexpected from the overall a/v experience that celebrates the art of drone. Here’s what we talked about….


Q: What is the Drone Cinema Film Festival and when was it originated?

A: The concept of Drone Cinema originated while I was on tour in Europe. I was working with layers of hypnotic drones and binaural beats in my music which took form as the piece “Dark Stations” which I performed through a 3.1 surround system I designed. The sub was placed in the middle of a triangle of speakers surrounding the audience. After the performance people came up to me and reported having vivid closed eye visuals (CEV’s) during the piece.

I also experienced CEV’s while testing parts of the piece during its development and thought that it would be an interesting idea to ask sound artists to manifest their inner visuals brought about by sonic drones onto film/video. I sent around some ideas to like-minded artists and the response was very positive so I decided that I’d create a platform and see if other artists would contribute works for a festival. We received a lot of entries so we decided to keep developing the festival because people seemed very interested in the hypnotic effect of drones.

Q: The event happens in the US as well as abroad, are there any differences in the programs?

A: The first festival (2015) took place only in the Netherlands and was such a success we wanted to bring it to the US. The second festival (2016) took place in both Leiden as well as the Grand Illusion Theater in Seattle. We moved it the following year to the Good Shepherd Chapel in Seattle because there was standing room only at the Grand Illusion so we needed a larger space. Both festivals contain the same films but the drone sound artists who open the festival are different. We draw upon a global community of drone artists for both the visual and sonic parts of the festival.

Albert Borkent - Moon TV 2
Image: Albert Borkent

Q: How is the event curated, call for entries, otherwise?
A: Each year we create a theme which serves as inspiration for the artist and a call for works is announced. We post a entry form that people can fill out and include a link to the work they’re submitting. We make use of platforms other than social media but obviously social media tends to be play a major role in getting the word out.

Q: What types of technology are used to either showcase this event, or employed live during the show?
A: It’s pretty straight ahead really. All we need is a large space, chairs, a decent sound system and a video projector. The sound artists who open the festival in Seattle and Leiden bring their own tech to perform with but other than that it’s a simple setup tech wise.

Foundation still 2
Image: Sequential

Q: Is the environment/set-up similar to Robert Rich’s sleep concerts, or Francisco Lopez’s darkened performances, with lounges and the like?
A: No. It’s a standard presentation of films. Screen, seats, viewers. We do want to open it up in the future and include talks by artists and workshops but that depends on finances.


Q: What’s new this year?
A: The theme this year is “silver/lunar” so all the films submitted for the festival draw their inspiration from that. The thing that is new is that I will be performing a new drone composition with a new project I call Khem One at the Seattle festival. I’ve been working with modal theory lately and this new piece is a grand experiment of sorts. Silent recording artist Lingua Lustra will be opening the festival in Leiden.

Q: How long does the full program run?
A: We typically try to contain the film portion to 90 minutes which is a format most people are used to. The musical performances opening each event usually run around 20 minutes. So in total, a little over two hours of drone art – anything longer
and we’d have to carry sleeping people out on stretchers. 


07-08 Eye Of The Storm (Reference Cut B).00_01_35_07.Still005
Image: C130 + Scant Intone

Q: In what ways might you differentiate DCFF from a typical music festival?
A: Well for one we are primarily a film festival that makes the sound of drones visible as moving images. We do our best to honor the unconscious in the artist as well as the viewer so many of the works are minimal, hypnotic and meditative. We feel the unconscious has become devalued in the arts and want to make this a key aspect of what we are trying to achieve.

Q: What is it like putting this together alongside your own work, and a record label?
A: Well, it’s a lot of work as you can imagine. The first few years were a labor of love but the festival has grown since then and we are finally able to pay people to help out with various tasks. But the labels and the festival tend to inspire one another.

For example, I worked on a computational release a couple of years ago with the label timesymmetric that played one hour soundtracks culled from the Drone Cinema pieces. It was Raspberry Pi (small single board computer) based and I designed the packaging for it. We also released some of the soundtracks as a digital release too. So the festival feeds the labels and vice versa.

Q: Does your event get confused with the (flying type) drone film festival?
A: Yes, all too often we get submissions by people who don’t read the information given on the submission sheet and submit their GoPro drone videos. There is a YouTube video of a beautiful performance by the band Low of a piece that ends with the singer stating “Drone. not drones!” – which I feel, says it all.

Image: Kris Force

Q: Anything that happens behind-the-scenes that you’d like to share?….
A: Not much really happens behind the scenes except countless hours of hard work that goes into making things go smoothly. I usually tell people “even when I’m not working, I’m working.”

Q: Thanks for taking the time during a week that will likely be quite busy.
A: You’re very welcome and thank you for giving the festival some exposure in Toneshift 🙂

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