5 Essential questions a producer should ask a drone pilot
(before hiring them)
Hi, I’m Drew Cobb. Dronewrx’s head pilot and Director of UAV Operations. After my experience in this industry with producers who didn’t know what to ask, I put together this series to educate you on this relatively new field of film making.
A huge issue that me and my contemporaries see all too often. Productions only know that they “want a drone” and lump all UAV’s into the same category.
What you want is: a skilled and licensed pilot/crew that has the correct camera/drone combination for your production.
Please read the following blog and allow me to impart some of the knowledge I have learned and you will soon know exactly what you need. Or you can email or call us now, and we can help you get your production the right drone/pilot for the right price. 323-899-8400
Is the drone operator insured?
This is the most important piece of the paperwork puzzle. Commercial drone pilots are required by law to carry insurance. Production companies, or govt. agencies will specifiy what limits they are looking for, usually from 1 million up to 5 million. We’ve done work for concert promoters that required 10 million for legal reasons. Recently there have been some on demand type of services like Verifly, but theses are no good with Film LA or any government agency, and are a good indication that the pilot is either underfunded, only works occasionally or is new to the business. Real pilots have real insurance policies.
Being able to file all the paperwork, and prepare a POA (Plan Of Activity) is mandatory for jobs that are permitted. Not only that, if the Fire Marshall starts asking questions, you don’t want a newby representing your interests. As toy-like and ubiquitous as drones have become, they are an aircraft with spinning propellers and can potentially be dangerous.
Can they fill out the necessary paperwork?
Drone pilots are notoriously bad at filling out the required paperwork. I heard one producers say “drone pilots don’t do paperwork”. At Dronewrx we see that as the first part of the process and make sure we are very good at it, if not the best. It doesn’t hurt that I was a graphic designer for my first career and Adobe programs Photoshop, In Design, Illustrator, Premier etc. are programs that are second nature for me. I actually had a Fire Marshall say to me “This is the by far the best, and most organized paperwork I’ve ever received from a drone operator. Yes, I design my own branding and website.
If you’re working with a film commission, such as Film LA, you’re going to get barraged with requirements and the necessity to fill out questionnaires or submit a POA (Plan of Activity). The way it inevitably hapens is last minute, as your permit facilitator is working other pressing projects, so when you get that email (DUN, DUN DUN) with a list of requirements, your drone operator SHOULD be able to take over for you and get them what they need within a few hours. The insurance certificate is going to take the better part of a day, and should they need a ‘Waiver of Subrogation’ it will take a little longer.
Paperwork most commonly asked for:
- Part 107 Certificate + Recurrent cert (Part 107 test has to be taken every two years)
- Drone Registration (drones have to be registered with the FAA)
- Waivers – (there’s a waiver for flying at night, flying over people, etc.)
- Insurance Certificates
- Wavier of Subrogation (these are part of the insurance which certain entities ask for)