Letter From Cape Film Commission Regarding UAVs In Filming

The following letter from the CFC (Cape Film Commission) regarding the use of UAVs in the film industry.

As many of you are aware, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has imposed an immediate ban on the use of UAVs’ in South Africa. This essentially means that it is illegal to use camera drones etc. on outdoor film shoots.

The City of Cape Town was made aware of this ban some weeks ago and has now refused to issue film permits where there is an intention to use camera drones. This was demonstrated last week when they refused to issue a film permit for filming in Cape Town Stadium where a drone was to be used.

Clearly there are significant implications to this ban.

In response to the ban we have been engaging with the CAA at the highest level together with the Ministry of Transport, the DTI and the office of the Deputy Mayor of Cape Town (who currently acts as the head of the film portfolio).

The CFC has also engaged with the Chair of the SAUAV Association for small aircraft and we have now become members of that organisation. The Association has already engaged with the CAA on the use of drones and is working with them to develop guidelines for the use of UAV’s in South Africa. However, that process will not be finalised until at least the end of this year.

In the interim, we have requested that the CAA adopt their policy for model aircraft and apply it to camera drones. This requires the following principles to be adopted:

1)      Flying only under 400ft  (120m)

2)      No flying within 4.2 nautical miles of an airport

3)      Flying only in line of sight of the operator (500m)

4)      No auto pilot flying or night flying

5)      Irrespective of the above, no flying over public property and roads without permission.

The guidelines are similar to those used in the UK/Europe and Australia.

We are also working with the insurance industry to ensure the guidelines are in line with their requirements.

There is also a suggestion that the CFC creates a UAV operators committee to become part of the SAUAV Association to enable us to work with the national UAV operators from all industries to ensure professionalism and appropriate guidelines within the industry. This will also ensure operators are appropriately accredited to satisfy safety and insurance requirements.

We would therefore like to request two things from industry.

6)    Please could production companies send letters to the CFC at indicating the importance of the use of UAV’s in filmmaking and the impact that the immediate ban will have on the economic footprint and employment in South Africa. We will then collate these letters and forward them to the head of the SACAA.

7)      Please could UAV companies nominate a representative to attend a meeting with the CFC and the insurers to create a lobby group to address this situation and become part of the SAUAV Association.

Your urgent response to this situation by close of business on Friday 16th May would be appreciated.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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