Hollywood Producers Want to Use Drones to Film Their Movies

If the FAA approves, filmmakers could be among the first to use commercial drones.

National Journal
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Alex Brown
June 2, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

Hol­ly­wood film­makers may be among the first to get ap­prov­al to use com­mer­cial drones, the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Monday, not­ing that sev­en pro­duc­tion com­pan­ies are re­quest­ing per­mis­sion to film with un­manned air­craft.

The com­pan­ies put in re­quests through the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica, seek­ing ex­emp­tions to the FAA’s ban on com­mer­cial drones. The agency is work­ing on more-uni­ver­sal drone reg­u­la­tions, but for now com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions are ap­proved on a case-by-case basis. Only lim­ited flights over the Arc­tic Ocean have been al­lowed so far.

The agency noted “tan­gible eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits” if the film op­er­a­tions are ap­proved, but cau­tioned that safety con­cerns would have to be ad­dressed be­fore Hol­ly­wood drones can take off.

“[Ap­prov­al] is go­ing to be quite likely,” said Patrick Egan, a drone ex­pert who ed­its sUAS News. “If there’s go­ing to be any ex­emp­tion, that’s the one.” Film sets are usu­ally closed en­vir­on­ments, and the in­dustry has no short­age of avi­ation- and aer­i­al-pho­to­graphy ex­perts. Plus, he ad­ded, “the film in­dustry has lots of polit­ic­al clout, which doesn’t hurt.”

One ap­plic­ant, Snapro­ll Me­dia, em­phas­ized it would be us­ing “private or con­trolled ac­cess prop­erty” for its shoots.

“[Drones] of­fer the mo­tion pic­ture and tele­vi­sion in­dustry an in­nov­at­ive and safer op­tion for film­ing,” said the MPAA’s Neil Fried. “We wel­come the FAA’s lead­er­ship and sup­port their guid­ance to safely au­thor­ize the use of [un­manned air­craft sys­tems] for the mo­tion pic­ture and tele­vi­sion in­dustry.”


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