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March 11, 2013

‘Real Housewives’ producers want to use drone copter to film in Miami Beach

Producers of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami want to use an unmanned drone helicopter to shoot aerials of Miami Beach for the series.

A new season of The Real Housewives of Miami is on the way — and so is a whole new way of filming it.

A producer of the Bravo reality series told The Miami Herald that a third season is in the works. This time, they want to include aerial shots taken with what is essentially a drone: a small, unmanned flying device.

“We’re giving it a lot of thought,” said Max Sklar, acting assistant city manager. He said it’s the first time the Beach has gotten such a request.

Cooper Green — vice president of Purveyors of Pop, the company producing the new season — said the technology has been used on film sets for 15 years, and that his company has used the technology to film an upcoming series, Married to Medicine .

“They’re used in the same way traditional helicopters are used — to gain B-roll shots,” Green said. “This is not a part of everyday shooting.”

But unlike helicopters, unmanned flying devices are “less intrusive. They don’t cause as much noise and they’re much smaller and therefore safer,” Green added.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t comment specifically on the technology proposed to be used by the Real Housewives crew, but said that: “Current regulations prohibit commercial operations of unmanned aircraft, which means basically that if money is changing hands ... then it’s prohibited.”

An advertisement sent to the city shows that the company CopterX charges $4,500 a day to use two flying devices with cameras attached.

Taylor Chien — who, according to an email forwarded to city officials is affiliated with CopterX — did not return emails for comment.

“We don’t deal with the FAA,” Green said. “We’re a television production company.”

The device that CopterX uses weighs about 14 pounds and has 6-inch props, according to an email to the city of Miami Beach. The company’s website includes a long list of credits, claiming to have shot for movies such as Transformers and S.W.A.T. , car companies such as Ford and Nissan, and television’s Discovery Channel, SpikeTV and CBS.

“I think this needs to be considered in larger aspects than just film use,” Graham Winick, a film and event production manager for the city of Miami Beach, wrote in an email to city staff. “I believe this has abuse and endangerment potential and think we need to consider what conditions and requirements we might place on it, if we allow at all.”

In his email, Chien cited a number of safety precautions taken by his company. For example, he said, his copters “come with fail-safe features so that it will never just fall out of the sky” and that he carries $2 million in insurance for injuries or property damage.

Sklar, the acting assistant city manager, said the matter would be handled administratively by city staff.

Miami Herald staff writer Maddy Marr contributed to this report.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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