Our Interviews 

A few Section 333 Insights from CineDrones


CineDrones received their Section 333 exemption on April 3rd.  They are an aerial cinematography business in Orlando Florida, we reached out to them to learn more about their business and their experience with the Section 333 exemption process.

Q. You filed your Section 333 exemption on October 9th of 2014, did the approval process go forward as you expected?

It was a lot slower than we’d expected.  I wrote the exemption myself without any direction from an attorney. The FAA requested more info which I believe took a bit longer to process but at the end of the day it was a learning process and a rewarding one at that.

Q. Would you have any recommendations to others who are just beginning the exemption process?

Don’t expect anything quickly, cross your t’s and dot your i’s then sit back take a deep breath and wait. :-) Also, be sure to have a Pilots license (PPL) or have someone that does and can act as your PIC (Pilot in Charge)

Q. Do you have any advice for the FAA around the process?

The FAA has been tasked to come up with something they know little about, it’s been a very slow learning curve for them and while it took far longer than it should have it looks like they are heading in the right direction with the recent NPRM.

Q. Your exemption paperwork notes that: “The exemption would allow the petitioner to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to conduct aerial photography for the motion picture and television industry”.  How do you envision drones being used in movies/tv?  Will it replace existing systems?

In every way possible, drones are extremely dynamic and can replace a host of large and costly equipment on sets. Jibs, dolly, techno cranes, steadicam and even full size aircraft can all be rolled into one drone. From amazing fight scenes to car chases, to long seemingly never ending runs the possibilities are truly endless and give directors the opportunity and ability to add so much more in order to tell their stories the way they want to.

Q. How did you determine that the use of drones would make sense for your business?

I’ve been flying RC Helicopters and Airplanes for 15 years, well before we called them “Drones” and the first time I ever mounted a camera to one was 5 years ago which happened to be for an MTV Show called Wake Brothers. Didn’t think much of it until we got a great check for a days work, it clicked and I was hooked. Took about a year after that to get into the business as I know it now and I’ve been flying on everything from TV shows to commercials as well as sporting events and concerts ever since.

In addition to the Aerial Production portion of CineDrones we are also a retailer, custom drone builder and manufacturer working not only with the film and TV industry but with law enforcement, agriculture and fire services.

Q. We noted in the exemption that you are going to use the following drones: DJI S900, DJI S1000, and DJI Inspire 1; why are these the right ones for you use?

We wanted to start with systems that have thousands of hours of reliable testing and flights, the DJI systems provide a great range of systems, gimbals and so forth that give us the ability to get in the air quickly, safely and reliably each time. We have several S900 and S1000 setups that allow us to fly different cameras depending on the need of the production.

The INSPIRE 1 was a system we were able to add back in January to our exemption, this makes us the first company in the US approved to fly the INSPIRE 1.

Q. How many drone pilots do you envision CineDrones hiring in 2015?

Currently we have 5 operators based around the US from Florida to Los Angeles and each has their pilots license. We are also lucky to employee Emmy award winning camera operators and work with professionals such as the Local 600 International Cinematographers Guild.

Q. Were there any questions we should have asked you?

Pisces, Long walks on the beach…. :-) Married with 3 wonderful children to whom I love very much and thank for allowing me and driving me to be the very best we can be in this industry!

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