Drone ban grounds business of filmmakers, wedding photographers

“Strict regulations, special provisions for professionals can save our livelihood”
Drone ban grounds business of filmmakers, wedding photographers
Image for representational purpose only.File: Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: Imad-Ur-Rehman, a Srinagar-based filmmaker who also shoots weddings, terms drones as inseparable part of his work as the small flying machine gives wings to his creativity and sets his content apart.

However everything changed as the administration banned drones in Srinagar. Imad who goes by social media name @ImadClicks says that he had three pre-wedding shoot bookings which got canceled. He says the clients got to know that he won’t be able to give them the multimedia content they are paying for as drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles were banned by the government in Srinagar.

The wedding shoots cost anywhere from Rs 70k and go for lakhs of rupees depending on the type of shoot and client. The advertisement, documentary makers, wedding photographers, and social media influencers based in Srinagar say that the ban is going have a huge impact on their business. These professionals believe that with strict regulations, provisions for professionals like them should be made so that their livelihood could be saved.

“I quit my job, packed my bags and came back to Kashmir” reads the Instagram bio of Imad. This young content creator left his stable job abroad to pursue his passion, but now he says that the ban is a setback.

“The drone ban in Srinagar is going to affect the overall work of professionals like us. I had three pre-wedding shoots canceled due to the ban aftermath. We understand that regulation is needed but for professionals, there must be a way out so that we can continue our work. I was just working with a client and making professional content for him while getting paid. When the client asks for drone shots and we can’t give them, they won’t pay or they will cancel the project and have it done elsewhere. Till now I was operating drones with proper permission as per the law like getting permission from relevant authorities and police. But now with this new ban I don’t know what to do,” Imad said.

These social media content creators and filmmakers have given a boost to tourism in Kashmir by exploring many lesser-known places. These filmmakers say that often tourists from outside Kashmir text and meet them expressing how their movies attracted them to visit Kashmir.

AamirBeigh is another Srinagar-based filmmaker and founder of ‘Kashmir Wedding’ a wedding-related multimedia production platform. He says that Srinagar is part of the 90 percent of his projects and the ban is going to have a major impact. Aamir employs a team of over 8 professionals. He says that their filmmaking is going to suffer due to the order.

“I am mostly associated with travel film making, ad making, and wedding-related content for which use of drones is an essential part. Including or excluding the drone shots in our content does affect our income as a whole. We can understand the need of regulation but if there will be provisions for professionals like us, it can help us a lot in continuing our work while not violating any law,” Aamir said.

These filmmakers say that they are not against regulations as drones are regulated everywhere. They however believe that blanket ban is going to give a body blow to their business.

In recent times many Bollywood production houses came to Kashmir and shot music albums. These professionals say that they hire local professions and with the ban that option will be over.

“We are also asked to hand over our drones. These drones cost lakhs of rupees, how can we just hand over them. Till now we were earning our livelihood but if the ban continues outside clients and companies will get professionals and permission anyways while we will be left high and dry,” a content creator said.

On Sunday, Srinagar district administration banned drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles. The Srinagar admin also directed drone owners to deposit their drones with the police stations. Earlier authorities in Rajouri and Kathua banned the use of drones. The move came after authorities said that drones were used in the Jammu airport attack. Now people whose livelihood depends on it say that government should make concessions and use strict regulation while allowing drone use for professionals to save their business.

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