HomeA Drone Used For Shooting Lands In A Police Station

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A Kannada film team led by director S Mahendar had to spend eight hours in a police station in Ooty because the locals and police did not realise that the ‘strange thing’ they were using was a small drone used for shooting. Though use of drones has become common in Kannada films, this is the first time a film team had to face such a situation. In the end, the film team managed to convince the police that they meant no harm by showing them videos of drones used for film shooting on the Internet. A few days ago police in Mumbai had taken into custody staff of a real estate company for using a drone near Baba Atomic Research Centre.

The film team of Paapu including director S Mahendar cinematographer Jagadish Wali and others were shooting for the film in Ooty. A crew member said that people who were watching the shooting did not know what the drone really was. Someone informed the police that something untoward was taking place. The police promptly arrived and took the team along with the drone with the camera attached to the station. The team spent the better part of the evening in the station. It was only at 11 pm on Wednesday that the team was finally able to convince the police. “The police were shown the use of drones in film shooting on the Internet. It was surprising that they did not know what it was,” a crew member said.


Sandalwood cinematographer and aerial cinematography expert Ashok Raman says that there are no norms for the use of drones yet. He said, “Almost every Kannada film makes use of drones these days. The drones are now available off the shelf. Unlike some foreign countries there are no clear cut rules and norms for their use in India. When we used drones for shooting in Italy the conditions were clear. We were not allowed to use it near important structures like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The manufacturers instructions that comes with the drones too have guidelines that include that it should not be used where there are people. In Kannada films we use it mostly during song shooting in the outdoors. Such shooting are usually done in outskirts and locations where there are very few people. But when shooting in city limits it is proper to inform the local police. When taking permission for shooting in cities it is better to mention that we are using drones. Even when shooting in private locations there are privacy issues which we have to keep in mind.”

There are no incidents of any Kannada film team accused of misusing drones so far. Director Pavan Wadeyar who has extensively used drones in his Kannada and Telugu films, said, “Drones are now available easily for any film maker. I first used it on Nandi Hills for my Telugu film. Recently we used it in Jindal Steel Plant with permission for Ranavikrama. We have to keep safety concerns in mind all the time. It is natural that we should not use it anywhere near airports. Since there are no specific legal permissions required as of now, we have to be more careful.”


Drones for film shooting come in different sizes. The most common is the four wing drone. This can carry a GoPro camera. A six-winged drone is required if a Canon 5D Camera is to be used. Heavier cameras like Red Camera require a eight-winged drone. The bigger the drone the more it costs. Till a few years ago aerial cinematography required the use of helicopters which cost up to Rs 1 lakh per hour. It also required various permissions and film makers usually avoided it. Today the cheapest drone cinematography unit is available for Rs 20,000 per day in Bengaluru. Drones can shoot from as high as 300 ft. It does need experts to handle it as Ashok Raman says, “It is after all an electronic equipment and anything can go wrong.”