A malfunction at a CIA press event causes a Predator drone installed with an ethical AI personality to go rogue as it attempts to understand its purpose in the world.

Let’s face it, AI is taking over many aspects of our daily lives, and they are only getting smarter. With ‘Drone’, director Sean Buckelew explores the idea of how humans have a distinct inability to pump the brakes on our own ingenuity. Even when it involves our own destruction or acts so morally heinous. But the film also brilliantly recontextualizes from the drone’s own perspective. Being able to more objectively judge mankind’s ethical complacency. Sean says he wanted to make a film that both accepts the inevitable reality and critically unpacks the endless perpetuity of technology that is increasingly removed and alienating. Strangely, the film coincidentally premieres online the same day the Chinese Spy Balloon has been shot down over U.S. skies, while very different narratives, the film does have the world’s convenient attention to the subject.

Written & Directed by Sean BUCKELEW

Can you tell me a little bit about ‘Drone’, how did this film come about?

I read an op-ed in The Guardian titled “Predator and Reaper drones are misunderstood, says manufacturer”. The notion of a misunderstood drone sparked the initial inspiration for the film and led to a number of other questions like “What if this misunderstood drone was programmed to be good?” and “What if he accidentally killed a civilian?” and then “What if everything was being livestreamed on Youtube?”. These questions became the basis for the story.

How long did it take you to complete the entire film?

I started writing the film in 2018, but production didn’t start in earnest until 2019. Production had some starts and stops, but all in all it probably took about two years to make.

What was the most challenging element for this project?

Finding the financing to make an independent animated short in the United States, where there is no funding.

What has this film taught you about filmmaking?

If you’re making a project on your own, choose a subject that would be difficult to make by any other means. And spend time writing scripts, it’s the best part of the process to excise a lot of bad ideas.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers?

Find a process that you enjoy, if you don’t like the process of making your film, it will be incredibly difficult to finish it.

What do you hope people will take away from ‘Drone’?

Powerful people are good at commodifying their own opposition.

What are your favorite films?

Days of Heaven, A Taste of Tea, Strange Days, Dr. Strangelove, Terminator 2.

And your favorite short films?

Please Say Something by David OReilly, Yul and the Snake by Gabriel Harel, Noir Soleil by Marie Larrivé, Acid Rain by Tomek Popakul.