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Aerial Director of Photography

Manage equipment, locations, and budgets for aerial film shots.

What does an Aerial Director of Photography do?

An Aerial Director of Photography, or Aerial DoP, is responsible for the aerial shots used in feature films, TV shows, and commercials. While flying above the ground, you make lighting, composition, and camera decisions.

Your duties as Aerial Director of Photography start before filming begins when you read over the script and discuss the storyboards of all aerial shots with the Director and Director of Photography. In this meeting you recommend the aircrafts, equipment, locations, and landing sites that will be needed and that will fit into a film’s budget. Once the logistics are agreed upon, the Aerial Unit Support Team handles the acquisition of the aircrafts and provides general support to your crew.

When production begins you and your aerial crew are the first to arrive on days aerial sequences are scheduled to shoot. This allows you to prepare the aircrafts and make accommodations for the rigid inspections crucial for meeting the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) regulations. The Safety Engineer and film Pilot will then give the go-ahead for rehearsals and shooting to begin.

Depending on the production, you may be working on a few simple shots for a day in sunny Hollywood or shooting a complicated car chase scene for months above winding roads in the mountains of Nepal under horrendous weather conditions. Either way, aerial filming offers a unique and dramatic perspective, offering some of the most powerful and memorable in the history of film. Who could forget the famous aerial shots of Manhattan in King Kong or the aerial credits in every episode of “All in the Family”?