NEW YORK – Edward Kostakis is the co-founder and Head of Aerial Operations at Xizmo Media, a leading drone services company based in New York City. Kostakis has logged thousands of hours on set piloting for live television broadcasts, feature films, commercials, and music videos.
With over a decade developing custom equipment used on sets both domestically and internationally, Kostakis specializes in close proximity flying for highly complicated aerial shots and thrives in high pressure, high stress, deadline driven environments. His work has been featured in publications like the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, and Jalopnik.
Kostakis’ background includes serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years as an Air Intelligence Officer for a helicopter squadron, teaching as an Adjunct Professor of Drone Cinematography at Adelphi University, and currently Senior Pilot for DJI, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial and consumer drones. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The National Herald about his work and his Greek heritage.
Kostakis told TNH that he first became interested in drones in mid-late 2008.
When asked where in Greece the family is from, he said, “Originally, my family is from Crete, but most now live in Thessaloniki.”
Kostakis continued, “My father came to this country with just under $20 in his pocket. He worked many jobs and tried to finish University here in the U.S. but without family support I can imagine it became quite difficult for him and he never ended up graduating” – but he would let that become a family trend.
“My father always said no matter what you do, ‘just make sure you get that diploma.’ My brother, sister, and I always knew the only thing that would make him happy was to get that. Having grown up in a single parent household for most of our lives (our parents split up when we were younger) he made sure we knew how important it was to him and how important it was going to be for the three of us. I think it comes from not having that opportunity when he was in Greece and seeing what a difference it made back then; those who graduated and those who didn't. I noticed this with his friends that have children as well, everyone was the same way.
“My dad would go through hell to make sure we were in school no matter what it took. He really did see it as a mission.”
“Funny story,” Kostakis continued. “When I was younger not having graduated college yet, I had joined the Marine Corps. While I was in training I realized the difference and importance a college degree makes among all the marines and how it really does set you apart. In many cases not having a degree limits how far you can get within the ranking system. When I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp I was sitting in the plane with my father returning home to New York and I had told him how I started to realize how important it was and said as soon as we are landing I'm going straight back to college. He laughed the entire way home. Needless to say about two years later I had graduated from the Media Studies Program at Queens College.”
He said “I believe my success today has everything to do with how focused he was on me, on us, to give us everything he never had because his parents taught him to be that way no matter what the cost and no matter what gets in the way. I can tell his parents were tough on him and he was tough on us. Greek love is tough love, but it works. Maybe it’s just the old school Greek love. Whatever it is...I’m glad we got it.”
Currently living in Brooklyn, Kostakis told TNH he has lived in “Flushing, Bayside, Brooklyn, Mineola, West Hempstead, New Hyde Park. When my brother, my sister, and I were younger, we lived a few years in Venezuela with my mother where we also went to school.”
Regarding his most recent projects, he said, “The Statue of Liberty Museum opens on May 16 on Liberty Island. There are videos playing on three large screens within the museum. My company was selected to film the drone portion of the videos. The shots we did have never been done before and offer views of the Statue that have never been seen. This is the first time a drone has been allowed to take off from Liberty Island with the purpose of filming the Statue. We had to go to great lengths to get the required permissions and we are honored to have been part of this project.”
Kostakis shared a link to a video from CBS Sunday Morning: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/statue-of-liberty-museum-opens-on-liberty-island-new-york-harbor/.
He noted that “you can see some of our shots at the 1 minute 46 second mark of the video.”
When asked if he is seeing an increase in demand for his company’s services, Kostakis told TNH, “There is a large demand for our service and other services that involve drones in general. Today, there are more drones flying the in the sky than there are manned air craft. The main demand in the years to come will be from government agencies, security and insurance companies, surveying/mapping, and delivery.”
About the fourth annual International Drone Day on May 4, he said, “Drone Day at Vaughn College is always great because I get to speak directly to the people who will be making the big changes tomorrow in an industry that I'm involved in today. If I can inspire a student (even if it is just one of them) to help solve some problems that the drone world faces today, then I have done my job.”
More information about Xizmo Media is available online: https://xizmomedia.com/.