The latest Sylvester Stallone movie Expendables 3 has made film industry history, and not just because
of the combined age of its over-the-hill cast.
Due to be released next month and co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundgren, it is the first Hollywood movie to have used an unmanned drone for birds-eye view aerial shots.
The opening sequence, featuring gunfire, a speeding train and an approaching helicopter, would normally have required a helicopter with its own camera crew, but instead an unmanned done hovered above the scene.
"We flew right next to a train and helicopter," Ziv Maron, owner of the drone company ZM Interactive says. "We shot everything from chasing tanks to explosions to flying over buildings and motorcycle jumps. We can do shots that a real helicopter can't because we can do lower altitudes."
In one scene a camera-equipped drone flew out of a window for an aerial view, then returned back through the same window, something that could never have been achieved with a helicopter.
While drone use is still banned by federal law in America, the Expendables 3 filmmakers could make use of them because the movie was filmed in Bulgaria.
Now the Motion Picture Association of America has filed a petition on behalf of seven aerial production companies asking for the regulations to be amended to allow the use of drones in the U.S. by
the film and television industry.
"Unmanned aircraft systems offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming," says MPAA official Neil Fried. "This new tool for storytellers will allow for
creative and exciting aerial shots."
It will also make the filming of action movies a lot less expensive. Typically a helicopter with a camera operator costs between $4,500 and $20,000 a day while a drone costs between
$4,500 and $8,000 a day.
Dan Kanes, a director of photography who has developed a video link that enables remote monitoring while filming with a drone, says: "Drones can make filmmaking safer as long as the people practicing it
are following safety protocol on set. It's a great way to get new perspectives. Instead of using a jib or a
crane, it allows you to have an infinite crane arm."
The Federal Aviation Authority has said it will consider the issue and has cautioned: "All the associated safety issues must be carefully considered to make sure any hazards are appropriately mitigated."
Filmmakers have already used drones in the U.K. for HBO's Game of Thrones and the upcoming BBC drama series Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell