On Thursday, the FAA approved the MPAA’s request to use drones on the sets of movies. The process of developing rules for the use of UAVs on movie sets began four years ago and came to a head in June when the MPAA and seven aerial cinematography companies petitioned the FAA for exemption from the administration’s strict ‘no commercial drones’ policy.
However, like any period of prohibition in this country, just because the government forbid a practice doesn’t mean people weren’t doing it anyway; whether flying overseas or just against the wishes of the FAA, using drones to shoot movies has been going on for years.
In any case, this is a big step forward for the integration of commercial drones into the US airspace and it is sure to have considerable implications as this technology evolves.
To get a preview of what the future of drones in cinema may hold, here are some examples of how drones have already been used on the sets of some Hollywood blockbusters:
The opening sequence of James Bond’s latest outing used drones to follow the action as 007 chased Unnamed Terrorist #3 across the rooftops of the Istanbul’s famous bazaar:
The Wolf of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese’s opus of opulence used a drone to shoot some of the footage from the party scene at the house in the Hamptons. Observe:
(NSFW- language, drugs etc…this movie earned its R rating.)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – In a franchise as CGI-heavy as Harry Potter, the impressive aerial footage sometimes gets lost, especially when the footage is used as a backdrop for a flying car:
Van Helsing – Hugh Jackman’s turn as Dracula’s archnemesis resulted in a fairly forgettable film but featured some pretty impressive set pieces. This particular scene was shot in the Czech Republic using a UAV. Note the “vampire vision” shots:
The November Man – We began with Bond and we will end with Bond…The most recent (and, frankly, the best) example of drone use on a movie set is Pierce Brosnan’s latest film, last month’s November Man.
In the film, Brosnan works for a spy agency that uses drones for surveillance and recon. In some scenes, the audience gets a drone’s eye view of the action. But director Roger Donaldson liked the aerial footage so much that, after the scenes starring the drones were finished, he asked the pilots to stay and help shoot the movie:
Now that drones will be cleared for take off in Hollywood, many more projects are sure to join this list.
Oh, and if we missed any other movie scenes that used drones, let us know in the comments!
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com