Private Project

A Drone Opera

A Drone Opera presents a self-contained and uniquely seductive world: opera singers and an original libretto, laser set-design, and custom built drones with live video feeds combine to drive a narrative of desire, fear and destruction.

  • Matthew Sleeth
    Guilty, Strange Colours, I Don't See God Up Here, For One Reason Or Another, Green Shoots
  • Matthew Sleeth
  • Kate Richards
  • Matthew Sleeth
  • Kate Richards
  • Michael Wrenn
  • Jonathan Parsons
  • Judith Dodsworth
    Key Cast
  • Paul Hughes
    Key Cast
  • Hamish Gould
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sydney Film Festival
    June 6, 2019
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Matthew Sleeth

Matthew Sleeth is a visual artist and filmmaker. He is a director, writer and cinematographer known for the films A Drone Opera (2019) and Guilty (2017).

His multi-channel film-installations are exhibited regularly and has recently contributed to the programs of Carriageworks (Sydney), National Gallery of Victoria, and Sydney Film Festival.

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Director Statement

A Drone Opera has had a long and adventurous life. From its beginnings nearly 10 years ago as a gallery performance where canvases at opposing ends of the exhibition space would be painted by a drone armed with paintball guns and resulting the ‘mess’ left in-situ for the exhibition duration, to a number of speculative drone painting/performance/video ideas that for (mainly) legal reasons remain unrealised, to the live performances in Melbourne at the end of 2015.

A Drone Opera has now evolved into a moving image work, with the short film and three-channel gallery presentations both launched in Sydney in mid-2019.

In many ways, the opportunity of this project was
to watch it change over the various iterations and learn what it needed to become. We knew for some time before the live performances – for various reasons – that we wouldn’t re-stage them, but would exhaustively film the process of development, rehearsal and production with a view to creating a film installation. The screen works would be self-contained new works but created from the ‘world’ of A Drone Opera.

This was a fascinating creative exercise with many twists and turns. The discussions focused on how to translate the mesmerising effect of live bodies in front of an audience into the visceral visual and aural power of cinematography and sound design. A key driver was exploring and devising new durational and narrative strategies that allowed for an enhanced sensory experience. We reimagined and revitalised each performance element in the screen context, balancing and counterpointing them in a choreography of the sensory, the poetic and the operatic.

A Drone Opera was a great joy to work on, largely due to the calibre of artists I had the opportunity to collaborate with. The work is the sum of their contributions and I would like to thank all who participated in making this dream a reality, for their generosity of spirit and extraordinary talent.