Drone racing Champion lands work for Justin Bieber and Will Smith

As a drone racing champion, Alex Vanover revealed that winning the 2019 Drone Racing League World Championship provided him with significant opportunities.

Victory in the championship enabled him to receive sponsorship deals, attend premieres, dine at the best restaurants, and receive free items.

Vanover claimed that he still enjoys drone racing, but filming for stars such as Justin Bieber and Will Smith has presented him with different opportunities.

The 23-year-old champion had no idea that Justin Bieber and Will Smith would contact him after winning the championship.

A perfect combination of the rise in drone popularity and Hollywood's search for new and unique filming techniques led to this unexpected development.

Vanover had always wanted to move beyond being a racing pilot, and his championship win was the perfect entry point into the entertainment and film industry. He received several calls and emails after his win.

Drones offered new perspectives for film and video production compared to the traditional GoPro camera clamped onto objects, and Vanover's first-person view drone (FPV) was in high demand.

Drone Racing Champion

Drone Racing Champion Lands Work For Justin Bieber And Will Smith 2

The demand for his skills began with commercial work, and word of mouth spread quickly in Hollywood.

The renowned director, Colin Tilley, who works with artists such as Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish, contacted Vanover through his Instagram direct messages to work on a project.

The initial project was low-key, and the artist's name was undisclosed. Justin Bieber has two music videos that used Vanover's drone footage.

Vanover's work for Will Smith's 2022 film, “Emancipation,” also received a lot of attention, and he was later hired by the production team for Michael Bay's movie, “Ambulance.”

Vanover will race his super-powered drone on February 25 in the championship finale in Miami, and his mother, Cathy, was an instrumental figure in helping him achieve his passion for aviation.

“Looking back on it now, I'm kind of lost for words because that was such a sacrifice by her,” Vanover said. “My mom worked full time as a school teacher and did photography too just so I could be immersed in aviation.”

Cathy teamed up with other aviation enthusiasts to purchase a plane for her son and moved to a private in Roanoke, where they lived on-site to immerse themselves in aviation.

Photos courtesy of Drone Racing League.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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