Can I make my own press pass?

Can I make my own press pass?

I attempted to hire Vistaprint to create a plastic card with my name, face, and the word PRESS on it—a press pass that I designed. But the proof was rejected as “suspicious.”

A press pass is not a government-issued ID. It’s akin to a business card, something that honestly conveys what you do for a living, and something you have to make yourself if you’re a freelancer. A press pass is not the same as media credentials, which are created and granted by an event organizer. The freedom of the press extends to all U.S. citizens—anyone can do journalism.

Ultimately, I was able to print my design through Custom Lanyard.

So why would I want a press pass?
Delta Airlines, for example, will allow media organizations to check excess-weight bags for $50, instead of the usual $150 fee.

“Camera, film, video tape, lighting and sound equipment that is tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies or commercial film-making companies will be accepted as baggage at the fees noted below. Valid photo ID with company insignia is required.” (Delta Airlines)

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Here’s Nick’s finished video—a very short tutorial on fixing his speaker with a vacuum.

Griffin Hammond
How long should freelancers save clients' video files?

How long should freelancers save clients' video files?

If a client from six years ago emailed you, would you still have their wedding video? Nick and Griffin discuss their data retention policies for freelance clients.

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When it comes to pricing for client work, Nick recommends watching Mike Monteiro’s F*ck You, Pay Me.

After Nick expressed interest in piloting a plane, John Patrick Bishop shared his pilot video.

Griffin Hammond
One-Day Documentaries with Griffin Hammond

One-Day Documentaries with Griffin Hammond

Indy Mogul is back! This is first episode of The Indy Mogul Podcast, hosted by Ted Sim:

Today we catch up with fellow co-host Griffin Hammond about his work covering the 2016 Presidential election with Bloomberg News and the process of creating his festival darling documentary “Sriracha.” We also discuss the fundamentals of documentary filmmaking and how to film a documentary in one day.

Griffin Hammond
Judge Denies My Request to Film in NYC Courtroom

Judge Denies My Request to Film in NYC Courtroom

Swiss tourist Paolo Prosetti was arrested after crashing his drone near Times Square in New York City. When Griffin attempted to film his court case, the judge denied his request.

Lots of exciting videos this week!

Griffin Hammond
Andy the cat is on Polish TV

Andy the cat is on Polish TV

Polish news program Fakty TVN featured one my most popular YouTube videos, Andy the cat climbing our Christmas tree. It’s a lesson in investing even in silly videos—you never know which work you create will resonate and lead to interesting opportunities.

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Griffin Hammond
B&H Surprised Me With a Canon EOS R + 24-105mm!

B&H Surprised Me With a Canon EOS-R + 24 105mm!

When B&H invited Griffin to an after-hours gift exchange, he wasn’t expecting to go home with a $3,400 camera kit. And he definitely wasn’t expecting Canon’s new mirrorless EOS R with 24-105mm lens!

Six other YouTubers walked away with excellent prizes as well: Steve Ronin, Armando Ferreira, Thunder E/Booredatwork, Jon Reyes, Jacklyn/NothingButTech88 and Brendan Miranda.

Thank you so much to Mendy Paul at B&H for inviting me! Happy holidays!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals for Filmmakers
I’ve started tracking November deals for filmmakers at

Griffin Hammond
New Mac Mini - Good for Video Editors?

New Mac Mini - Good for Video Editors?

Apple has finally refreshed the MacBook Air and Mac Mini. What does that mean for video editors?

This week, Alex Ferrari launched Indie Film Hustle TV, which includes in its filmmaker-focused library my film Sriracha, as well as an additional hour of behind-the-scenes Sriracha content. Learn more at

If you’re near NYC, join me Thursday, November 8 at the B&H SuperStore for my workshop, Traveling Light While Filmmaking.

Griffin Hammond
Episode 80: Do you need Full Frame? Lumix S Series

Episode 80: Do you need Full Frame? Lumix S Series

A full-frame camera from Panasonic sounds really exciting—but what will it mean for Griffin’s streamlined travel style? Plus, your questions about shooting telephoto on the iPhone, losing signal on the Mavic Air drone, and why you should avoid cheap step-up rings.

Nick talked about selling his previous iPhones on Swappa, and responding to Matt’s question about camera bags, Nick recommends his Peak Design Everyday bag.

All of my gear is listed out at, and to answer Austin’s question, I recommend buying slightly more expensive anodized aluminum step-up rings. These are less likely to warp, easier to use than the cheaper aluminum.

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Griffin Hammond
Panasonic’s First Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras—Lumix S Series

Panasonic’s First Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras—Lumix S Series

Lumix S1R and S1 are Panasonic's first full-frame mirrorless cameras, announced today at Photokina in Köln, Germany.

Both cameras—coming in early 2019—feature a full Super 35-sized sensor, which is nearly four times larger than the micro4/3 sensor in my Panasonic GH5.

The Lumix S1R is a 47-megapixel camera designed for photographers, and the S1 is 24MP for hybrid photo video shooters. Each camera shoots 4K60p, with in-body image stabilization, a 3-axis tilt LCD, and two different card slots—one for an SD card, and one for an XQD card.

Panasonic is developing three new L-mount lenses: a 50mm prime f/1.4, a 24-105 and a 70-200mm. Like the cameras, these lenses will come out in early 2019.

Griffin Hammond
Episode 79: John Luna Edits This Podcast

Episode 79: John Luna Edits This Podcast

John Luna is an Adobe Premiere editor, but he edits this podcast in Final Cut Pro X. Plus, your questions about finding an audience, avoiding flickering lights, and making corporate videos look cool.

*As a burn survivor, John speaks quietly—it’s through his recovery that he taught himself video production.

Subscribe to John Luna on YouTube and follow his Instagram. Watch his video Grand Central Station.

Two resources Griffin recommends for amateur filmmakers is the website NoFilmSchool, and Robert McKee’s book Story.

You don’t need to buy anything for my baby, but because some have asked, Amy and I have a registry.

If you’re interested in Panasonic’s next camera announcement, follow @LumixUSA on Instagram, where they’ll livestream their September 25 press conference at 6:30am EDT. (It’s early because it’s from Photokina in Germany.)

Griffin Hammond
Episode 78: My Office Is Gone

Episode 78: My Office Is Gone

Griffin has to give up his video production office—for a very happy reason. Plus, your questions about Final Cut Pro X keyboard shortcuts, creating a nighttime lighting effect, and are you allowed to use stock footage in your film?

Did you know? There are over 56 hours of the Hey Indie Filmmakers podcast!

Saif asked about lightweight travel tripods. I use the MeFoto RoadTrip carbon fiber. You’ll find the rest of my gear at

Nikolas needs to take an existing captions file, and burn it into his video as titles. I found a free Final Cut Pro X plug-in called X-Title Caption Convert, and also Caption Burner ($129).

My latest video is about my very fast friend Alex, and his attempt to run his fastest mile!

Griffin Hammond
Episode 77: Justinsuperstar Travels, Makes Documentaries

Episode 77: Justinsuperstar Travels, Makes Documentaries

My good friend Justin Johnson is prolific video producer and talented, world-traveling documentary filmmaker. We met up in New York to discuss his innovative techniques and creative philosophy. Plus, your questions about finding good stories, distribution strategy, and matching multiple cameras.

Follow Justin’s work on YouTube or at

I recommend his recent mini-doc series Fan Creators, produced for SyFy, and his latest travel video, A Journey to Kitzbühel, Austria. You can also read about his creative approach in this Tongal Creator Interview.

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This week you can hear me on Ian O’Neill’s new podcast, How They Did It: Filmmaking.

Griffin Hammond
Episode 76: We’re Rebels in Stormtrooper Disguise

Episode 76: We’re Rebels in Stormtrooper Disguise

After going undercover as stormtroopers in Star Wars virtual reality combat, Nick and Griffin are joined by their childhood friend and video professional Adam Kruminas. Plus, your questions about cropping 4K video, the easiest way to add storage space to your editing machine, and advice for your first documentary.

At The VOID in Las Vegas, we experienced Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire—a particularly immersive virtual reality game.

Thank you Chris Johnston for setting us up with your studio, and to camera operator Sam Seeger!

Although our friend Adam has access to pricier broadcast equipment, he prefers lightweight gear for some shoots—the sub-$100 Tzumi SteadyGo gimbal to stabilize his 4K mobile phone. He’s also using an inexpensive MAONO lavalier microphone for audio, and often a selfie stick as a tripod substitute. I personally think Adam would really enjoy my favorite, simple piece of gear—the Pedco Ultra Clamp. *ding*

For Panasonic GH5 V-Log footage, I’ve enjoyed a LUT called VLog_to_V709_Varicam, included in this free zip file of LUTs created by Mitch Lally.

Griffin Hammond
Episode 75: Pre-Production Meeting

Episode 75: Pre-Production Meeting

Nick and Griffin plan which microphones and cameras they’ll need for next week’s three-person shoot. Plus, your questions about sound on a budget documentary, upgrading your editing machine, and when you need a location release to sell stock footage.

The Faustian Man wondered why I don’t more actively promote my film Sriracha on the podcast. He says, “I watched it last night still amazing! I love that doc.” It’s free on Amazon Prime.

Kasey asked about music libraries. Episode 47 discusses the topic in-depth. For my music, I use and recommend Artlist. I’m also an affiliate, so I receive a commission if you sign up.

Listen to Alex Ferrari’s interview with Griffin on Episode 258 of Indie Film Hustle—“Making Money with Documentaries & Sriracha with Griffin Hammond”

Griffin Hammond
Episode 74: Improvising DIY Film Gear

Episode 74: Improvising DIY Film Gear

When Griffin’s filmmaking equipment fails to arrive, he’s forced to improvise and build his own DIY solution. Plus, your questions about making money with cheap equipment, putting Canon glass on mirrorless cameras, and proper exposure for your productions.

I tried to order this $24 Tablet holder to mount my iPad to my DJI Mavic Air remote, but after USPS lost the package, I decided to build my own version by recycling pieces from a GH4 camera cage, a Reflex shoulder rig handle, and mounting this Joby GripTight for iPad.

In this episode, I also demonstrate how Drone Deploy created an auto-flight plan for my drone, and 3D-mapped my friend’s house.

Griffin Hammond
Episode 73: Become a Licensed Drone Pilot

Episode 73: Become a Licensed Drone Pilot

Griffin is now a licensed drone pilot, after passing the FAA knowledge test—granting him flight privileges hobbyists don’t get. Plus, your questions about shooting infrared, collaborating with another editor, and recording audio with a boom pole.

In response to Aisha’s question about shooting infrared,
I mentioned infrared filters by B+W and Hoya.

Drone flight apps I find useful

  • KittyHawk is the perfect pre-flight and flight-logging app for drones. It displays easy-to-read airmaps and weather information, and even counts my drone battery cycles to help maintain airworthiness.
  • Verifly provides instant liability insurance for drone flights. $1,000,000 of coverage, usually as low as $10 for an hour-long, ¼-mile flight. But you can also increase the coverage, time and distance, and schedule in advance.
  • The website SkyVector is the simplest way to reference the FAA’s VFR sectional charts, TACs (terminal aeronautical charts) and TFRs (temporary flight restrictions).

Why would you want an FAA drone license?
Licensed sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) pilots operate under Part 107 of the FAA rules. Some rules mirror those for hobbyists—like don’t fly over people—but a licensed pilot can fly for profit, and apply for authorizations to fly in controlled airspace, which hobbyists can never do.

What is the process to become licensed?

  • Two weeks of studying. You’ll likely need two weeks of study time to learn how to read VFR sectional charts, decode METARs, and learn Part 107 rules. You’ll find free practice tests and study materials online—in fact, I’ve posted all my study notes below. But I paid $149 to RemotePilot101 to access their 13-hour video course.
  • $150 to sign up for the test. Find your local testing center, and call CATS, one of the testing companies that manages Airman tests. It will cost $150 to sign up for the test—it’s just a 60-question knowledge test. No flight test required.
  • Score at least 70% on the test. You have two hours to answer 60 multiple-choice questions, drawn randomly from a pool of approximately 600 the FAA has designed. You can miss up to 18 questions—70% is a passing score. You’d have to pay another $150 to retake the test.
  • Apply for your pilot certification through IACRA. Within 48 hours, the FAA should receive your test results, and you can register in IACRA. There you’ll submit a free application online, and within seven days, you’ll be approved, and the FAA will mail your pilot certificate. It’s possible to receive a certificate quicker, by visiting your local FSDO, but as you can see, this whole study-test-approval process should take over three weeks.
  • Lastly, your drone (sUAS) needs to be registered with the FAA as well. This costs $5.

Is the real test harder than practice tests?
After scoring 96% on RemotePilot101’s final exam (in 19 minutes), I expected to breeze through the real knowledge test. Although I passed, I scored worse than expected: 87% in 45 minutes. What slowed me down is the practice tests display diagrams on-screen, but the real test uses this book—Airman Knowledge Testing Supplement. A question might say, Refer to Figure 75 (which is not on page 75, as you might imagine), so perhaps 15 minutes of my test was spent flipping back and forth through the book. Also, approximately 12 questions covered concepts I’d never heard of. So if you’re not scoring at least 80% on practice tests, don’t expect to pass (70%) the real test.

What eight questions did I get wrong?
The FAA provides codes/topics for the questions I got wrong, and I can remember some of the question text. Two questions I don’t remember at all, but they must fall into these six topics—

  • PLT161 Recall airspace classes - limits / requirements / restrictions / airspeeds / equipment
    "Refer to Figure 75. You’ve been hired to inspect a new highway construction along the southern edge of Gila Bend, AZ. Do you need authorization to fly your sUAS?"
    (I said no, because I wasn't sure what “southern edge” meant, or where the Gila Bend city limits are, but now I see it's likely referring to Class D airspace, which would require authorization.)
  • PLT263 Recall hazardous weather - fog / icing / turbulence / visibility restriction
    Something about 40-knot gusts around a mountain, which I wasn’t familiar with.
  • PLT072 Interpret information on a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF)
    "Refer to Figure 15. According to the TAF for KMEM, during what time period does the weather become overcast at 2,500ft?"
    Strangely, this may have been the only TAF question on my test, and I’m not sure how I got it wrong. It sure looks like it’s forecasted to be overcast at 2,500ft (OVC025) at 22:00Z time.
  • PLT146 Recall airport operations - traffic pattern procedures / communication procedures
    "Without a control tower UNICOM, what frequency should you monitor for planes?"
    ( ATIS 123.75 ) ( MULTICOM 122.9 ) ( Flight Service 122.0 )
  • PLT328 Recall performance planning - aircraft loading
    "If a sUAS is carrying cargo,"
    ( make sure it's secured ) ( flight performance is diminished ) ( third choice I don’t remember )

  • PLT534 Recall regulations – small UAS operational control / condition for safe operation / VLOS / frequency interference
    Something about visual line of sight when passing control to another Remote PIC (pilot in command), a procedure I never learned about.

Here are ALL of my notes from studying FAA Part 107.
My notes alone can’t teach you all the necessary skills, but they can show you what to learn, and work as a study guide.


sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) is 0.55lbs up to but not including 55lbs



Fly sUAS below 400ft AGL (above ground level), or up to 400ft above buildings, when within a 400ft radius of the building.

100mph ground speed max (that's 87 knots)

(400 ft is 120meters)


MSL is mean sea level

Airport elevations, airspace notations are written MSL

Written on maps as big number with small number below in parentheses—that's MSL (AGL)


Only fly during daylight, or in “civil twilight”—that’s the 30 minutes before sunrise/after sunset, which requires 3-mile collision avoidance lights


VFR Sectional charts cover the whole U.S.

Terminal aeronautical charts (TAC) are a zoomed in view of airports



Class A airspace is 18,000ft+ for commercial airliners

Class B airspace is major airports (SOLID BLUE LINE) multiple shelves, like an upside-down, tiered cake.

Class C is smaller airports (SOLID MAGENTA LINE) one shelf, usually 20 nautical miles across

Class D is still controlled but even smaller (DASHED BLUE LINE) no shelves, single cylinder. Typical height is 2,500ft AGL.

Surface Class E is also controlled (DASHED MAGENTA LINE)

Faded magenta means Class E airspace begins at 700ft, so not a problem for sUAS

-Unlike other altitude notations, Class E 700ft is AGL

-Outside of faded magenta, Class E begins at 1200ft AGL

Class G is uncontrolled, requires no approval.


The most comprehensive information on a given airport is provided by the “US Chart Supplement.”


On a VFR sectional chart, those blue compass roses surround VORs (VHF omnidirectional range), which transmit navigational info to pilots.

-V and T blue lines are IFR routes "highways in the sky"

-long dashed magenta are "isogonic lines" showing magnetic north.

-Blue airports have control towers. Magenta do not.


TRSA is big grey lines. Have Class D at the core, but the Class C-style shelves are for FYI only. You don't have to talk to those towers.


Other areas shown by blue hash is restricted or prohibited or warning

Magenta hash is military operations area (MOA)

-what kinds of activities in a MOA? Those that necessitate aerobatic or abrupt flight maneuvers.

-In restricted space? Unusual, often invisible hazards to aircraft (eg artillery, guided missiles)


Military training routes (MTR) are denoted by thin grey lines. IR means instrument route. VR means visual route. These are usually under 10,000ft. But a four-number character (ie VR1207) is 1,500ft AGL and below. Three characters or less have segments above 1,500ft. - Also uses HEMS (turbulence data for low-flying helicopters)

METAR (french acronym) is an aviation routine weather report, released every 55 minutes

Look like this:

KLGA 251510Z 18010G19KT 10SM OVC010 26/23 A3000 RMK AO2 T02610228 $

Decoded: LaGuardia, (July) 25 at 1510 zulu time. winds from the south (180°) at 10knots, with gusts up to 19knots. Visibility 10 statute miles (10 = unlimited). Overcast at 1000ft MSL. 26°C, dew point 23°C. Calibrate altimeter to 30.00Hg. RMK are remarks.



15°C and 29.92Hg


TAF (Terminal aerodrome forecast) is like METAR, but generally a 24-hour forecast

Looks like this:

KLGA 251607Z 2516/2618 17014G21KT P6SM VCSH SCT015 BKN035

TEMPO 2516/2520 2SM SHRA BR BKN015 OVC025

FM260000 17012KT 6SM BR VCSH OVC020

TEMPO 2600/2604 3SM SHRA

FM260400 20010KT 6SM BR VCSH OVC015

FM260800 23006KT 4SM BR VCSH OVC015

FM261400 25006KT P6SM VCSH BKN025 BKN040


LaGuardia (day, zulu time) forecast from 25 16:00z to 26 18:00z. 170° 14knots, gusts up to 21knots. P6SM (visibility more than 6 statute miles—6 is TAF max). In the vicinity (VC), showers (SH).


THREE TYPES OF WEATHER BRIEFS: Standard, Abbreviated and Outlook

If you had a waiver that required you to fill out a NOTAM, you can do it on that site.


What is a characteristic of stable air?

-Stratiform clouds (thin, low stratus clouds)

-fair to poor visibility

-continuous precipitation


Unstable air

-building cumulus clouds (extensive vertical development)

-good visibility

-inconsistent, showery precipitation


When the temperature and dew point get close, that's when we get visible moisture—when fog forms.


-Radiation fog, when heat rises from the ground at night (prefers no wind)

-Advection Fog, warm moist air moves over a colder surface, like a body of water

-Upslope fog, which moves up a mountain

-Precipitation induced fog / steam fog


When will clouds or fog form?

-When water vapor condenses


What would you expect on a hot day over a barren area?

-Unstable air (because of the rising, uneven heat)

-Low-level wind sheer, thunderstorms might occur if we add humidity to that


CLOUD types:

-high (cirrus or clouds with extensive vertical development)

-middle (altocumulus and altostratus)

-low 6,500ft below (stratus) (cumulus)


Must fly sUAS 500ft below clouds ceiling


cumulo-nimbus (CB clouds) means rain (also nimbo-stratus)


A standing, lenticular cloud (often forms over a mountain, almond-shaped). Terrible, nasty weather.


What is the definition of a ceiling?

-The lowest broken (BKN) or overcast (OVC) layer. Not "few" or "scattered"



On cool, clear calm nights, objects on the ground can cause surrounding air to drop below the dew point, condensing air on ground, buildings, aircraft, etc.

-If the temperature is below freezing, that's frost.

-Dew poses no threat to sUAS, but frost is a definite flight safety hazard. A small sUAS would need to be cleaned of frost before flight.


Compass numbers that are written/read are "true north" (METAR, TAF) whereas heard ones, like on the radio, are "magnetic north."


FAA says payload "should" be logged, in the event of an accident.

-sUAS "MAY NOT" carry HAZARDOUS material

-to ensure center of gravity (CG) confirm balance info in POH (pilot operating handbook)


Normal plane flight pattern is rectangular: upwind, left crosswind, downwind, left base, final.



-Report accident within 10 days, to the FAA if:

-"serious injury" (hospitalization) to any person or loss of consciousness

-damage to any property (other than sUAS) if the cost is greater than $500

-shall be filed electronically, via FAA accident reporting

-or by phone to nearest FSDO (Flight Standards District Office)

Griffin Hammond