Forget spending your entire production budget on a high-cost helicopter rental. Drones allow for a production to reduce spending by the thousands, while simultaneously delivering high-definition aerial photography.
In a comparative chart presented by The Wrap, a day rate for a drone with a crew manning it ranges from $9,000 to $15,000, while a crew with a helicopter can go from $20,000 to $40,000.
Additionally, thanks to the FAA’s approval of commercial drone use for film and TV productions, shoots can now stay local rather than decamping to those countries that already allowed drone usage. According to the Los Angeles Times, until recently, drone crews retreated to South America, Europe, and Canada to film all their work.
Perhaps most important, drones can reduce the amount of time needed to set up a shot. This is especially good news for independent filmmakers who now have more options when working on a tight budget.
For example, as detailed in the Wall Street Journal, a rooftop chase scene in Netflix’s Narcos would normally have taken days, with 5 to 10 cameras along a route on the ground. However, the drone was set up in less than 30 minutes, and only needed three crew members to man it: a drone pilot, the aerial director of photography, and an extra person for safety.