Drone Camera Crews Win Union Coverage in Film and TV Industry

Major Studios Agree to Union Terms

In a significant development for drone camera crews, major film and television studios have agreed to cover these workers under the IATSE union agreement. This change follows a recent arbitration victory by the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) against Warner Bros, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Victory for Drone Camera Workers

The union's national executive director, Alex Tonisson, announced the news in a memo: “Major studios have now represented that they will cover drone camera crews under the Local 600 Agreement, as required by the latest arbitration award.”

This decision resolves a previous ambiguity regarding union coverage for drone camera workers.

Industry Response

Prominent drone service firm CineDrones, known for its work on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead and Netflix's Ozark, reportedly celebrated the news on Instagram: “A new day in drones is upon us.”

The company quoted a communication from ICG, highlighting that “Union films and television productions will now be required to cover drone crews under the applicable Local 600 contracts and pay union benefits to drone crew members.”

Clarifying Union Coverage

The decision appears to address a long-standing gray area concerning union coverage for drone camera crews. It also fits into a broader effort by the IATSE union to combat the subcontracting of what it considers union-covered work to non-union workers. This move comes amid ongoing negotiations to enhance protections against such practices in the union's contracts with major studios and streaming platforms.

Drone Cinematography's Impact

Drone cameras have revolutionized cinematography, creating stunning visuals in films like Skyfall and Jurassic World and series such as Game of Thrones. The Federal Aviation Administration first permitted the use of drones for filming movies and TV series in U.S. airspace in 2014.

A New Era for Drone Crews

The recent arbitration decision provides much-needed clarity for drone camera crews.

Tonisson remarked, “The decision reaffirms that on feature films and television productions is Local 600 covered work. It's gratifying to see the industry recognizing our members as the most highly trained professionals in their field.”

He also urged productions to employ drone camera workers as Local 600 covered positions, with the appropriate pension and health contributions.

DroneXL's Take

This decision marks a pivotal moment for drone camera crews, ensuring they receive the recognition and benefits they deserve under the IATSE union agreement. It reflects the industry's growing reliance on and the need to protect the skilled professionals behind these innovative tools. As drones continue to transform visual storytelling, this move ensures that those operating them are fairly compensated and supported.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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