Cher Brown is a grandmother, nature-loving film producer and FAA certified drone pilot
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am the mother of four wonderful adult children and have four grandchildren. I resigned a year ago from a decade-long career as a Human Resources Director at an active-living retirement community. I am admittedly an obsessed, passionate fine art, nature and landscape photographer whose work has been placed in area hospitals, health care and hospice facilities, in galleries and private collections. My husband and I co-founded a startup filmmaking company early this year, Keva Creative, LLC., based on his extensive filmmaking experience and my professional photography. We are visual storytellers who help businesses connect with their audience in a compelling way.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
My involvement in the drone industry is purely by happenstance! Our business wanted to add aerial cinematography to our portfolio of services and we innocently bought a drone without any knowledge of FAA remote pilot requirements. Looking at a sample knowledge test on the FAA website was a bit intimidating… I’m 60 years old (albeit a very young 60-year-old!!) and have been out of school for some time now. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about my ability to learn what looked to me like complex, technical data. Up to this point in my life, I’ve been an artistic, creative individual who was never interested in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) curriculum. Passing my FAA knowledge test with a score of 95% changed everything!
Tell us about your organization and your role there.
Keva Creative, LLC is a full service video production company committed to delivering artistic, beautifully filmed and masterfully edited digital content. I serve as the organization’s Aerial Cinematographer, Producer and Photographer. As a certified PIC, I also have the responsibility to educate clients about our commitment to preparing for and conducting safe drone operations while adhering to all federal, state and local laws pertaining to drone flights.
What do you like most about being in the UAV industry?
I love the fact this industry supports age-diversity in the workplace. As long as you are willing to put in the time and effort to become a “legal” commercial remote pilot or a safe drone enthusiast, people from all age groups can be part of this exciting industry.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
I’m a nature-lover, so shooting aerial landscape and nature imagery has been both exciting and motivational.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?
I’m intrigued by the almost unlimited uses drone technology plays in the creation of new jobs and career paths for women. Throughout my life, and especially in my role as a Human Resources professional, I’ve seen the effects of stereotyping and gender bias against women in the workplace. Drone piloting gives women the empowerment to compete and add value to what is currently a male-dominated industry. This is perhaps one of the few opportunities I’ve seen for woman to get involved with an industry that is newly emerging, has enormous earning potential and it just plain FUN! A 2013 report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International projected that there will be more than 100,000 new jobs created nationally by 2025 – that’s a lot of growth! In addition, many US universities are starting drone programs which offer women another opportunity to expand into aeronautics and engineering fields. Currently, women in the United States can enter the drone industry quite easily by passing the FAA knowledge test and learning to fly their drone. This is one field where you can quickly become a subject matter expert (SME) providing you’re willing to put in the time studying and training. NOW is the time for women to seize this opportunity!
What You’ve Learned:
What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry?
My “lightbulb” or “ah-ha!” moment occurred when I first realized that the FAA requires US commercial drone pilots to be “certified” in order to fly legally. Although this process has led me down a fascinating path, I also think there is a need for greater education and disclosure by drone manufacturers about pilot requirements on their websites.
Is there a tip you learned you would like to share with other women in the industry?
No matter what your age, educational background or work experience, women can get involved quite easily in the drone industry. If you are already a successful commercial female drone pilot, reach out to other women who are considering this profession with your advice and encouragement. A favorite quote: “Lead by Example: Support women on their way to the top. Trust that they will extend a hand to those who follow” …Mariel Dabbah”.
What’s the best way for W&D readers to connect with you?
The Final Word:
At 60, where do you see your career evolving in the next five years and beyond as a result of your work as an aerial cinematographer?
In addition to our corporate film work, we have one long-form documentary in pre-production and are awaiting word on another that could possibly take us to the west coast of Africa. Ideally, we hope to spend the next decade traveling the world as documentary filmmakers where I’ll continue to weave aerial cinematography into the storyline of our productions.