@sarasotaexperienc #longboatkey #beercanisland #northlongboat #floridakey #droneview #manateecounty #Sarasotaexperience ♬ 1 minute sad and quiet piano(912010) - ON THE SOFA STUDIO
If you've seen a guy in a tie-dyed T-shirt flying a drone down the beach, you've likely spotted Len Besterman, a local videographer who posts stunning aerial clips of the Sarasota area on social media under the username Sarasota Experience.
Since 2020, Besterman has gained more than 12,000 followers on his TikTok account and continues to receive thousands of comments on his Facebook and YouTube livestreams from out-of-towners who tell him his videos convinced them to visit, or even move, to Sarasota.
"People tell me all the time, even coming up to me when they recognize me on the beach, that they watched my videos consistently before visiting or moving here," says Besterman. "The locals don't seem to care so much, but for people from around the country and even the world, they appreciate how beautiful our town is, and I love sharing it."
Besterman's most popular videos have been overhead shots of the Anna Maria Island pier (which have generated more than 30,000 views), videos of Sharky's on the Pier, sunset shots on Venice Beach and wide shots of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico near Longboat Key. He finds people most love Anna Maria Island, calling it the hidden gem of our area.
In addition to nature shots, Besterman captures hotels, sandcastle competitions and even landmarks such as the sea turtle sculptures on Siesta and the Unconditional Surrender statue near the bayfront. He begins videos by speaking about the place, and offering tips to potential visitors.
"I love giving local businesses shoutouts, even if most of them are already booked up during high season," says Besterman. "It just gives tourists and snowbirds an idea of what to do when they get here."
Besterman's love of Sarasota began years ago, when he moved from Pittsburgh. He found a local community of fellow Pennsylvanians (and avid Steelers fans) whom he connected with. He later started a radio show, Home Improvement, to connect with others.
"I loved sharing with the audience, but would get nervous doing live public radio," says Besterman. "So, back when Hurricane Irma hit, I began posting Facebook Live videos about the aftermath and how our town was holding up."
Besterman was amazed as the response he received, and that's when he began branching out to livestreaming sunsets on Venice Beach near Sharky's and sunny days on Siesta Key. As a certified drone pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration, he was able to shoot drone footage for his streams and make a living off of it.
"Now, I love shooting drone footage and video for local businesses and have done work for Nathan Benderson Park and Benderson Development," says Besterman. "I hope to expand this business even more."
While Besterman does not do radio anymore, he continues to use his radio voice and extroverted, laid-back personality to attract the attention of followers. He is known as "the Sarasota Experience guy."
"My passion is to show what's going on here through visuals," says Besterman. "We are fortunate enough to live here, but for the people who don't, they get to have a taste of our paradise through these videos."