Brian Streem, co-founder and CEO, Aerobo drones

How a former art student helped create an industry that puts movie cameras in the sky

Most people think of drones as those buzzy toys in the park–or deadly military aircraft. But lately they’ve become something else as well: sophisticated movie cameras in the sky, capable of bringing back high-definition video for customers ranging from real-estate companies to Hollywood Studios. Brian Streem, co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn-based Aerobo, is a pioneer in the industry of drones-as-a-service. For a daily rate ranging up to $30,000, Aerobo provides production companies with drones, cameras, and the pilots who’ll fly them. This allows directors to focus on directing, rather than feeling the pressure of adding drone piloting to their repertoire.

The idea first came to Streem in 2013, when he was working as a producer with his own production company. After watching a video of a drone in flight, Streem sensed that technology was just about to take off. “I thought to myself, That’s going to be hot. People are going to want that,” he told us in our podcast, From Day One.

A 29-year-old graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Streem is not a drone pilot himself, but he has a filmmaker’s fascination with moving a camera through three-dimensional space. “A drone is just a medium to have autonomy and to move about the world in a cool way,” Streem says. “That’s what I’m really going after.” Since launching in 2015, the company has had many high-profile customers, including Amazon, Netflix, ESPN, and Fox. He credits Aerobo’s success to drone imaging being a creative choice, vs. one based purely on the financial return on investment. “At the end of the day we’re in the business of making pretty pictures. We’re not a drone company, we’re a pretty-picture-making company,” Streem says.

His company is housed in Industry City in the Sunset park neighborhood, and he’s working to expand his small Los Angles team to take on more film projects. You can read our earlier story about Aerobo here and listen to our podcast below. By Kim Thornton