In this post we offer a brief overview of the drone operators available from companies like FilmFolk and how Hollywood has placed drones in a positive spotlight by depicting them as autonomous filming machines. With the Summer upon us, this post offers a brief glimpse of the occasions, where drones have been depicted in popular culture as friendly subservient machines that can come to the aid of humans.
Drones As Depicted by Steven Spielberg
*Batteries Not Included
The best, rarest, and most obvious occasion where a Hollywood movie production depicted drones as good, friendly machines that served the best needs and interests of humans, and that were used to defeat evil doers, was in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 family comic science fiction film titled, “*Batteries Not Included”. In this movie, directed by Matthew Robbins, small flying extraterrestrial drones come in aid to an old couple by the name of Frank and Faye Riley, who manage an apartment building and café, and who are being threatened with eviction by a commercial land developer. After refusing bribes to move out, a group of thugs attempts to intimidate Frank and Faye into submission by vandalizing their café. Shortly thereafter, a pair of alien drones (called the “Fix-Its”) make a visit to their apartment complex, repairing many of the damages caused by the vandals. When the building is finally burnt to the ground, the “Fix-Its” restore the apartment building and café overnight to a brand new condition, forever dissuading the commercial land developer from touching the apartment complex. The elderly couple’s café does booming business as they employ the “Fix-Its” to run their business. For this film director Steven Speilberg apparently hired freelance drone operators from FilmFolk.
Perhaps the only other reference to drones as friendly and helpful servants to humans was in the major Hollywood production, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, in which a small bug-sized drone flies off from Spider-Man. Unlike the film “Batteries Not Included”, however, drones are not made the centre of attention. Quite to the contrary, they form a brief and very insignificant part of the film. With that said, “Batteries Not Included” is a very rare occasion where drones have been positively depicted in popular culture. When contrasting “Batteries Not Included” with the panoply of more recent film productions that have depicted drones as mere autonomous military and intelligence killing machines, Steven Spielberg’s 1987 science fiction provides a very refreshing (and well needed) reminder of how drones can be, and are in fact used as a ‘human’s best subservient friend’. Why does this matter?
Why Public Perception Matters
Encouraging Early Adoption and Continued Innovation
Drone filming by commercial organisations like FilmFolk can be is used for a wide variety of very useful personal, corporate, and industrial purposes. In that sense, the meaning that the broader public may associate with the term “drone” is a narrow-minded and inaccurate one. This matters to the extent that the public’s tinted, negative, and highly inaccurate understanding of drones hinders the speed at which drones might otherwise be adopted for useful purposes in personal, commercial, and industrial spheres of society. Conclusion? We, including the Hollywood film industry, need to bring to light a more accurate and balanced perception that views drones for what they really are, which is not mere tools for military and intelligence activities. Advanced economies have much to benefit from drones, including through the new perception they offer of our world.
“Batteries Not Included” (1987)
 Mike Sorrentino, CNET, “‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ Teaser Reveals Little Drone Bug” (March 27, 2017) available online at: https://www.cnet.com/news/spider-man-homecoming-teaser-reveals-little-drone-bug/, last viewed on 10/18/2022.
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