Drone Service President on Enrique Iglesias Accident: "I Thought, 'This Is the End' "

PictorVision - H 2015
Carolyn Giardina

PictorVision - H 2015

Tom Hallman, president of PictorVision, said, "I thought, This is the end," following the recent accident when Enrique Iglesias had his fingers sliced by a drone during a concert in Tijuana, Mexico.

PictorVision, which offers aerial cinematography services, is one of the companies that last year earned an operator exception from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones on movie sets.

But while he makes safety and safety education a priority, he and other pros at this weekend's Cine Gear Expo told The Hollywood Reporter that they worry that those who don't follow the rules could hurt everyone.

"It's a major concern,” Hallman said. “We are fully aware that when we say no [to a job that doesn't meet safety parameters], it’s [often] still happening."

"We hear of crashes — not serious, but it’s going to happen. Logic dictates this," he added.

In the case of the Iglesias accident, Hallman noted that the drone was flown by the singer’s own crew. “People can make bad choices," Hallman said. "If it landed in the audience, it could have been a lot worse. We wouldn’t fly over a crowd. We can’t fly over crowds [per FAA restrictions].”

Aerial production companies with the FAA operator exemption, such as PictorVision, may deploy drones for certain uses on closed sets. Outside U.S. airspace, regulations vary and are often less restrictive.

Hollywood is showing a growing interest in mounting cameras on unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, to get unique shots in movie and TV production. With the FAA working on new rules, their use has been reported on series including The Mentalist and Modern Family. "The volume of queries goes up every month," said Hallman.

At Cine Gear, drones were exhibited, but flights were not permitted.