How Drones are Helping Indie Filmmakers Succeed

Who says you need the support of big-name Hollywood studios to produce an engaging movie or hit show. As the industry shifts away from traditional DVD/Blu-Ray production to streaming media platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Crackle, and HBOGo, there’s been a growing number of independent films hitting viewers’ television screens. As an indie filmmaker you’re passionate about the project,  proud of the script, and have a clear vision of your shots. Now it’s time to maximize your budget and professional drone cinematography can play a key role.

Aerial Shots are Essential in Filmmaking

It’s no secret that aerial shots are a fundamental element in filmmaking. Granted, not all scenes require a bird’s eye view of a landscape; some are best shot on the ground. If you want to show how the size of an object or person relates to the surrounding landscape, however, overhead footage is the way to go. Using professional drone videography services, indie filmmakers can capture stunning shots from high above, low to the ground and just about anywhere in between. Whether it’s an aerial shot of a mountain, beach, lake or even a subdivision, this otherwise simple footage can make a world of difference in the audience’s engagement.


Drones are also budget-friendly — something that can’t be said about helicopters. As an indie filmmaker, there are other ways to spend those valuable dollars than hiring a helicopter pilot for a day. According to Investopedia, it costs approximately $65 million to produce a major studio movie. However, that cost doesn’t factor in the cost of distribution and marketing, which adds another $35 million to the total. Indie films, on the other hand, have an average budget of roughly $750,000 (conservatively). To ensure that all essential costs are covered, indie filmmakers have to selectively choose the products and services they buy to make their dream a reality.

4K Resolution

It’s also worth mentioning that drones can shoot in full 4K resolution. As you may already know, 4K involves the use of horizontal resolution with 4,000 pixels. While the technology has been around for many years, it has just recently gained mainstream popularity due to the reduced cost of 4K televisions. Statistics show that more than half of all households in the United States will have a 4K television by 2025.

If you’re still skeptical of 4K drone videography, check out the video presented below. It was filmed entirely with a drone, revealing stunning shots that wouldn’t otherwise be possible from traditional on-the-ground equipment.

Video: 4k Cinematic Drone Footage from FFE Films

Fly Just Inches from the Ground

In addition to the cost savings of using professional drone videography services over renting a helicopter, there’s also the added benefit of flying close to the ground. Helicopters are restricted from flying too close to the ground, for obvious reasons. Drones, however, are not. You can literally fly them just inches from the ground, all while creating a unique perspective for your indie film.

Drone Technology is Improving

Not surprisingly, drone technology is constantly improving, with newer and better equipped drones being released on a regular basis. In the past, indie filmmakers had limited options regarding the use of drones. Today, however, there are dozens of high-end models available that can easily be fitted with video equipment. Popular setups used in filmmaking include the DJI Inspire 1 with the Zenmuse X5 camera; the DJI Inspire 2 with the Zenmuse X5s 5k camera; and the DJI Matrice 600 commonly used with the Arri Alexa and Red Epic.

Create a Captivating Trailer

As an indie filmmaker, you are probably well aware of the importance of shooting a captivating trailer. The trailer can make or break a film, depending on how it’s executed. If the trailer is generic and lackluster, few people will actually watch the film. But if the trailer is engaging and captivating, the film will attract a larger audience. Using drones, indie filmmakers can create the perfect trailer for their respective films. Even if there’s no other aerial shots in the film itself, including aerial footage in the trailer can help indie filmmakers connect with their audience and generate exposure for their film.


Finally, drones allow indie filmmakers to create aerial footage on the fly. Hiring a helicopter pilot can take weeks (or longer). And once the pilot arrives, getting it up in the air can take several hours. Drones, on the other hand, can take off and begin filming within minutes. This means indie filmmakers can focus on other aspects of their film, such as editing, marketing and distribution.

While also used among hobbyists for recreational purposes, drones are now being used by indie filmmakers to compete with big-budget studios. The bottom line is that drones are an invaluable tool for indie filmmakers.

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