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Drones in Hollywood: Filmmakers Seeking Looser Regulations

Drones have given filmmakers a new tool to capture images that previously were not possible. However, many filmmakers feel FAA regulations prevent them from using drones to their full capacity.

Filmmakers use drones to get aerial shots without disturbing the surroundings, which is an advantage over a helicopter. Drones can go where aircraft and people cannot. This allows for creative shots in a manner that is quicker, cheaper, and safer.

The FAA requires that companies obtain approval before using a drone for commercial purposes. There are several regulations that the FAA has put in place. The FAA considers drones to be aircraft, so these regulations have been put in space for the safety of both the drone operator and all other aircraft that may encounter the same airspace.

Here’s a look at a few of the regulations that could affect filmmaking.

  • For obvious reasons, drones must be flown at least 5 miles away from an airport. If a filmmaker needs to fly a drone within the 5-mile radius, written permission must be acquired.

  • The drone and all the equipment it is carrying must weigh less than 55 pounds, for safety concerns. This is a regulation that some filmmakers are opposed to. They feel it prevents them from using certain cameras.

  • Drones cannot be operated more than 400 feet above ground level. The FAA has put this rule in place to prevent drones from entering into the space of any other aircraft.

  • The operator must be able to see the drone at all times. Of course this rule is in place for safety reasons.

  • Drones cannot be operated from dusk to sunrise. This is a major concern of filmmakers. Filmmakers feel they are losing out on some creative images that would take place during nighttime scenes. The FAA has concerns over other aircraft’s ability to see the drone during the night.

  • The drone cannot be operated above a person. To do so on a film set, authorization must be obtained, as well as consent from those on the set. This rule is in place for safety in the case of drone failure.

Though there are more regulations for drones, but these are the ones that affect filmmakers the most. Do you think the FAA should loosen up regulations on drones for Hollywood? Share your thoughts with us.

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San Francisco, CA