The Sony Pictures hack revealed a startling amount of information about Hollywood finances that we always knew to be true. But, after sitting down and seriously studying the numbers, it is impossible not to be stunned at the true facts and figures of production budgets. Some numbers that really stood out was the $747,743 budget that Jamie Foxx was given for his personal trainer and entourage or the over $34 million post production budget for a mid-range, family comedy. With these bloated figures, increasingly threatening competition from the digital world, and overseas pressures, it is common knowledge that Hollywood is coming to a point where it must change or suffer the consequences.
How can Hollywood change? There are limitless answers and a multitude of paths that it can explore in the long term. But, in the short term, it would be wise for Hollywood to lower it’s extraordinary operating costs. How? By adopting new methodology, of course.
When any industry alters their methodology, or way of thinking, it usually does that by looking ahead to the future. Industry movers and shakers ask themselves questions.
What can be?
What needs to be?
What will be?
To answer these questions, industries shift to focus on utilizing new and emerging technologies. For Hollywood, a great new technology that they could adopt as it shifts is drones.
Drones can help Hollywood deflate their budgets in the short term and aid in the resurgence of Hollywood preeminence in the long term.
How Things Currently Stand
Hollywood production sets for television and film waste a lot of costs and time on setting up for, practicing for, and finally capturing scenes. For more difficult shots, many times, it could take hours to get a crane or a helicopter set up. It would then take a couple of more hours to run practice shots. Finally, it would take a couple more hours to actually get the shot.
For aerial shots, helicopter rentals level out at about $25,000 per day. And, most times, these helicopters are not rented for only one day. Film sets run for months at a time, so more often than not, helicopters will be required on sets for more than one day. The costs of insurance, fuel, pilot work, and airspace approval also must be accounted for.
Helicopters and cranes are also dangerous and have been known to be deadly. Hollywood has suffered from fatalities on production sets. In face, helicopter crashes are the leading costs of deaths on film sets. Just recently, in 2013, a helicopter that was being flown for a Discovery Channel reality show crashed, killing all three people on board.
Replacing helicopters and cranes with drones on production sets is the wave of the future. Some directors are already using drones for their movies, but, still only 10% of production teams have utilized them on set.
How Drones will Disrupt
Drones represent a new era in film technology using precision camerawork with a steady cam that can fly virtually anywhere. They are far more nimble and dynamic than helicopters and can fly through narrow spaces, through windows, indoors and into canyons. Drones truly allow directors to push the limits of cinematography because they allow them to access points of views that were otherwise unreachable. They allow intimate, cosy shots, but can also open up to reveal vast landscapes.
Setting up for a drone shot is a breeze, especially in comparison to setting up for a helicopter shot. All a drone pilot has to do is consult with the director about a flight plan. Then, with the tap of a finger, he will draw the appropriate flight plan on his software platform. From there, the drone will take off and fly its course. Although a lot of the flight is automated, pilots still have complete control of the flight course, so you won’t lose that creativity that can only come from human intuition.
There are numerous other benefits of utilizing drones on sets. Because drones are battery operated, they are a wonderful example of a green technology. They also allow for fast turnaround of raw footage. We can simply hand over our memory cards right after all the footage has been gathered. Or, we can upload the footage and send it straight to our clients. Times are changing fast, and the recent announcement by Facebook about the availability of drone streaming directly online truly speaks to the improvements that are constantly being made to the drone world.
Drones lower the barrier of entry for world class footage and allow people without major Hollywood resources the ability to perform cheaply, efficiently, and beautifully.