Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem.
The captured footage shows what looks to be a half-finished Millennium Falcon and two X-Wing fighters parked out near Britain's Greenham Common. Footage like this was bound to pop up at some point, mostly because you can't keep damn near anything secret these days, especially not a brand new Star Wars movie.
Pinewood appeared to know that, too. Motherboard has exclusively gotten its hands on an order form that shows the company ordered one "DroneShield," a product that can supposedly detect the presence of drones nearby.
According to the company, a DroneShield can "provide advanced warning of helicopters and drones commonly used by paparazzi and media. Alerts are sent by email or SMS and can be linked to alarm and security response teams and data collected is preserved for subsequent legal proceedings."
To be completely honest, I have no idea how well the product works—I was supposed to test it out one day last year, but a last-minute scheduling conflict happened, so I haven't seen it in action. Beyond that, flying a drone in many places isn't illegal, so it's unclear what the studio would do if it detected a drone.
— FlyMAC (@FlyMAC_Popham) September 9, 2014
In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and a rep at DroneShield told me the company's export application never went through. So, no DroneShield to protect against Star Wars leaks.
"We weren't able to ship overseas because our ITAR (export) application, filed in May, hadn't been approved," the rep told me in an email. "It is now September and it STILL hasn't been approved."
According to the rep, the company has orders from at least 20 overseas companies, but it still doesn't have permission to ship the DroneShield. A request for comment from Pinewood Studios wasn't immediately returned.
Still, it's probably safe to say they aren't too stoked that photos of the set are being leaked. The fact the company foresaw this problem in the first place, suggests, at the very least, this is something major studios are worried about happening more often.