Interview with Festival Director Petio Petkov (DroneUp International Film Festival)

Get ready for the second edition of Europe’s funkiest drone event – DroneUp International Film Festival! Once again, DroneUp IFF will celebrate and acknowledge the world’s best drone cinematography in front of an 3000+ live audience in the magnificent ancient Roman Stadium in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Petio Petkov: We’re first and only drone film festival that is primarily a public event, focused on taking aerial cinematography out of the standard, darkened and closed theaters and making the best of it readily available to the general public at eye-level. We’ve managed to create an open platform where innovative cinematic technologies and means of expression are synergised them with the rich history present at our hosting venue, which is an astonishing 1800 year old Roman Stadium located right in the heart of the city. Personally, I am particularly happy about the fact that we not only showcase the very best of the world’s drone filmmaking but also manage to meaningfully combine them with other live performances (music, dance, art, etc) that, to me, are just as an important part of creating a happening and dynamic festival.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Once again, the audience can expect that we will present the world’s best drone cinematography in 6 different categories: Nature, Urban, Travel & Culture, Extreme, Narrative & Cinematic and Bulgaria (to honour our host country). This year the festival will be more interactive and allow the audience to have a first hand experience of what it means to fly a drone. We will be hosting numerous drone demos, workshops, exhibitions and competitions, which I think will be an interesting feature that we will be focusing even more on in the years to come.

Naturally, there will be plenty of live performances and surprises to spice up the package and to make DroneUp a vibrant and hip festival.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

It’s all pretty simple actually – the short films must be shot at least 50% by a drone. And of course be super creative – there’s nothing like a new mean of expression and technology that can stir up your established views of what’s possible!

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We just want to provide a great and new experience to as many people as possible. I think that aerial cinematography is developing in such an interesting direction that it deserves a larger audience. And on the other hand, it’s great for the audience to experience their everyday life from a different vantage point!

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s been great. We’re fortunate enough to have submissions from every corner of the world, despite being a “young” festival, so there really isn’t much to complain about.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

DroneUp is held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in relation to the city’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture in 2019. After that, the vision is to have the festival traveling each year to different city’s as they take turns in hosting the ECoC.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Probably Forrest Gump 😉

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film succeeds in portraying the flaws, the beauty, the internal fights, the calm and storm, the interrelations in every individual – always in a relatable but magical setup.

How is the film scene in your city?

Our festival definitely makes it better 😉

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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