Hiring a film crew today may seem simple given the ubiquitous camera in everyone’s pockets, but it’s a tricky business. The price you pay for your film crew often has nothing to do with money. Between unusable footage, location trouble, and scheduling mishaps, an unprofessional film crew could wind up pushing production back or shutting down the film entirely. It’s time to learn more about what’s really important when it comes to hiring aerial filming services.
This is usually the driving force behind a filmmaker’s decision, so it makes sense to tackle it first. To evaluate what aerial cinematography is really worth, consider what amateur talent can do to your final results. Even if you don’t need Oscar-movie level production quality, you’re still working with expensive equipment and talent. An inexperienced film crew will waste everyone’s time learning on the job (and that’s if they bother to learn at all!)
We all have instances in our life where we skimped on the budget and got away with it, but when it comes to filming, don’t take this risk. A crew that undercuts their prices at every turn is likely using desperation a way to make up for a lack of expertise. Those who have put in the time and effort to learn their craft to the highest level will expect to see competitive compensation offered to them. They’re the same people who refuse to cut corners when times get tough.
Ok, it is true that not all companies that charge a lot are automatically worth your time. Some crews may be extremely competent when it comes to action-packed scenes, but they may not be able to adapt well to different types of film sets and locations. Some may present their work as the best in the business, but the trained eye can spot that their equipment and employees are second-rate at best. As with everything in life, you want references to be from those with enough experience in the film industry to compare and contrast.
Choose to get your referrals from someone who knows their stuff and who can give truly unbiased opinions. Ideally, they’ll put the heavier emphasis on the work of the crew but general attitudes count too. You don’t want to end up with a crew who’s excellent at getting those tough shots but expect the director to bow down to their creative vision in return. Reach out to your community to see who knows whom. Look for people in the production department first, and then move onto other department heads, PAs, and fixers.
Picking the first film crew you come across may cause you to second guess whether or not you made the right decision — even if you did make the right one! Look into the film commissions based on where you’re shooting, and start narrowing down the listings. You can usually use the production guides online to find everything from references to contact information to demos. Look for people who have proven success in what they do and a demonstrated commitment to safety.
Talk to those on your short list about their approach to downlinks, controllers, and even batteries. Just be careful to keep your expectations in check when it comes to opening up your options, lest you waste time. Make a list of your priorities and then start filling in the gaps based on the information you have. If it becomes too much of a time investment to get the answers, it’s time to move on.
The best aerial filming crew is going to be busy, so give yourself enough time to coordinate schedules. It’s not unusual for a film crew to show up at a location ready to shoot without having done any research at all! If you expect a worthwhile film crew to be available at the drop of the hat, you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. Practically any location worth filming in likely has crews that are booked up well in advance.
The best way to account for your timelines is to account for theirs. Don’t call if you can’t give hard dates for when and where you need them. An experienced, professional company will be flexible enough to handle extreme emergencies, but not constantly changing schedules or filming requirements.
When it comes to any kind of aerial photography, it’s important to hire a company that takes compliance seriously. The FAA has some strict rules about who can fly where, and they change from time to time. The last thing you need is to end up in a legal battle because the drone you were using accidentally flew into a restricted space. You should also be assessing any potential environmental hazards prior to hiring the film crew to save everyone some time.
Look for someone who can advise and guide you through each step of the process. Any film company worth their salt will be able to tell you about both federal and local guidelines, and point out any additional hazards you may have overlooked. Insurance should also be a major concern when you’re working with aerial cinematography equipment. No matter how skilled a crew may be, mistakes can happen. If you’re going to be flying anywhere near people or property, the film company should have insurance to cover any damage or injuries.
With more than 50,000 hours of aerial filming experience, Helivision is an aerial drone filming and cinematography company that understands what a production staff needs. We can fly anywhere in the United States, and we’re excellent at explaining local laws and ordinances to our clients. We bring the right backup equipment to minimize any schedule delays, and we fully insure and license our machinery for limited liability. Our HD Cineflex camera system ensures the right color, resolution, and lighting every time. If you’re looking for quality services that won’t leave a film high and dry, give us a call today.