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Filming Over State-Owned Property

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 11:00

This was a good learning experience to understand the process required to conduct aerial filming over state property in California. Highlights include:

  1. California Film Commission (CFC) film permit, requiring:
    1. FAA Section 333 exemption (including aircraft with N- tail numbers);
    2. FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA);
    3. Documented Plan of Activities (POA);
    4. Minimum of $2,000,000 UAS liabiltiy insurance and a separate policy endorsement.
  2. California State Parks and Recreation (CSPR) district film permit approval, entailing:
    1. Impact assessment on area wildlife;
    2. Assignment of a park ranger.

Though the process may seem bureaucratic, it is established with good reason to prevent undue adverse impact on park visitors and the flora & fauna. In this case, the state park was concerned about the impact of eagles known to be nesting in the area. During the permit approval process, in this particular case, the state park reviewed and determined that there would be no impact thankfully.

One can do quite a bit of planning prior to arriving on site thanks to the Internet. In this case, once on site, we realized that 4 factors required revisions to the final POA: 

  1. The cables recently attached to the bridge to hold it together during renovation required flight plan revisions; 
  2. Starling-like birds nesting under the upstream road crossing were alarmed by the aircraft and started flying around it, necessitating a change of plans; 
  3. A point-of-interest  (POI) circular flight around the bridge was not safe to conduct given the steep slope of the canyon on the north side combined with tall trees. 
  4. Park visitors started arriving in large numbers upon the start of visiting hours. Fortunately most of the footage was captured prior to then.

The CFC, CSPR, and our insurance broker were very helpful. All in all, this was a fun & educational shoot.