In May 2014, seven aerial photo and video production companies asked for regulatory exemptions that would allow the film and television industry to use drones with FAA approval.
Those seven companies are:
- Aerial Mob
- Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems
- Flying-Cam Aerial Systems
- Heli Video Productions
- Snaproll Media
- Vortex Aerial
The process started more than four years ago and involved the above companies, UAV pilots, lawyers, consultants, cinematographers, and studio representatives. Working with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), these companies put together safety procedures and guidelines.
While MPAA chairman Chris Dodd announced that the regulatory exemption request had been approved, at the moment only six aerial cinematography companies have been granted permission. That said, the permitting model opens the door for many other companies to follow suit.
Some of the key procedures and guidelines that need to be followed are:
- Drones must be operated by licensed pilots
- Drones can’t be flown out of sight of the operator
- A fire safety officer must be present on set
- An emergency medical technician (EMT) must be available on set
For now, drones are not allowed to be flown at night, though the Department of Transportation and the FAA may lift that ban in the future.
It’s worth noting that camera drones are significantly cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and safer than their helicopter counterparts. Since 1980, 33 film and TV workers have been killed in helicopter filming accidents around the world.
This is a big step for drone legislation!