No feature film, television series, or commercial goes on location today without an infrastructure of production vehicles. From camera trucks and wardrobe trailers to hair and make-up trailers, talent trailers and the ever-essential honeywagons, a fleet of vehicles accompanies every location shoot. They safely store and prep equipment and comprise amenity-filled “base camp” villages. They’re not only transportation: they’re extensions of the studio on the road.
Transportation Resources Driven by Thoughtful Design
Eighteen-year-old Transportation Resources (TR), with offices in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Baltimore, services features and television series nationwide and internationally; it’s the exclusive truck provider to Netflix’s House of Cards and has six trucks on Fast 8, the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise now shooting in Cuba.
TR’s Georgia credits include supplying stakebeds, box trucks, fuel trucks, and a 6-station make-up trailer to season three of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow; all the base camp trailers for the SundanceTV series Rectify; cast trailers for Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip; make-up and cast trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; wardrobe and make-up trailers for NBC’s new Game of Silence; and cast, wardrobe, and make-up trailers for an array of Marvel features.
“We never build our next truck without asking customers how we can improve it,” says Aaron Skalka, who’s partnered with Keith Fisher in the business. “We’re concerned with making our fleet easy to maintain and user friendly to those who spend long days in them.” Vehicles are fabricated in L.A. to TR’s specifications and reflect the TR brand in their interior aesthetics.
TR is known for its 5- and 10-ton camera trucks and camera trailers. “We’re really proud of them,” says Skalka. “They are our most in-demand vehicles. Camera departments ask for our trucks by name; transportation coordinators insist on having them.”
Their popularity stems from “thoughtful design,” which accommodates film and digital camera inventories with custom shelving, well-planned workspaces and seating, and darkrooms that can be reconfigured for other tasks if not in use. Camera trucks are currently busy on pilot season in L.A. and on the reboot of Fox’s 24, the ABC series American Crime Story, the new CBS series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, The CW’s series The Originals, the STARZ series Blunt Talk with Patrick Stewart, and the features Fast 8, Stronger, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, and the latest in the Jason Bourne franchise.
Wardrobe trailers come in 48- and 53-foot versions, all custom-built with big open spaces and height-adjustable racks. They feature workspaces both front and back – one in the washer-dryer area and one in the fitting area.
Hair and make-up trailers are the “ultimate testament” to TR’s attention to detail, says Skalka. A 10-station hair and make-up trailer is TR’s newest addition. “It never stops working. The trailer was four years in development; we must have talked to three dozen hair and make-up people in the design phase.”
The 10-station trailer features stylish, easy-to-maintain fluorescent lighting to reduce eye strain, flooring with enough cushioning to make it easy on the feet (but not so soft that the chairs move), and robust and beautiful countertops. The trailer’s two rear-most stations are separated by a sliding door and have a separate star entrance.
All of TR’s honeywagons feature restrooms and small dressing rooms for actors and stunt people. “They’re pretty utilitarian,” Skalka says. “One challenge for any truck with water is keeping them warm in winter. Ours are designed with thermal integrity so we can send them north in winter and know the tanks will never freeze.”
Most of TR’s trucks are certified clean idle and can run on B20 bio-diesel/diesel blends.
Quixote Studios Goes Verde
Headquartered in Hollywood, Quixote Studios occupies a unique position in the industry. “We’re unlike other transportation companies in that we have studios, lighting, grip, expendables and production equipment support – essentially everything you need to create content, short of the cameras,” says CEO and co-founder Mikel Elliott. “So we take our experience being studio operators and make our vehicles feel like extensions of the studio. We have over 20 years of heavy transportation experience as well, but overlay it with a high-end studio feel and you have a very unique location experience.”
In addition to Los Angeles, Quixote has a studio and vehicles in New Orleans, as well as vehicles in New York and on six acres in Atlanta. The company initially offered short-term trailer rentals for commercials and photo shoots in L.A. before acquiring Movie Movers – and its extensive fleet – two years ago. That propelled Quixote into the feature and television markets and gave it a firm foothold in Georgia.
“We’re very bullish on Georgia,” says Elliott. “We have a fleet of about 125 units in Atlanta and a really great team anchored by Quixote veterans who value service as a key driver of success.” Quixote has provided its Verde line of 2- and 3-room cast trailers to such Georgia productions as The CW’s The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, LeBron James’s STARZ series Survivor’s Remorse, and the feature Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Elliott says the company is growing its camera truck fleet with 3-, 5- and 10-ton trucks in L.A. and Georgia. All feature modular shelving and storage that’s easy for users to customize.
Hair and make-up trailers come in 6-, 8- and 9-station versions; a combined 37-foot make-up/wardrobe trailer makes the most of limited location space. “We survey top stylists and transportation coordinators for feedback, then implement their suggestions,” Elliott says. “For every class of trailer we develop 80-90 percent of the prototype, then ask our key customers to define the rest.”
Wardrobe trailers are designed to be “open and light,” with adjustable racks and shelving and comfortable workspaces and changing spaces. Quixote’s 53-foot iCoach wardrobe truck is fully wireless, broadband connected and Mac-centric; a 32-foot wardrobe/make-up combo unit is attached to the rear.
Quixote has a fleet of single-cast, multi-room, and celebrity fifth wheel trailers tailored in consultation with interior designers and with talent managers who know what stars look for in luxury and amenities.
The company has been in the forefront of sustainable transportation for the last dozen years, and its Verde line has become “the standard-bearer for eco-friendly trailers,” says Elliott. “Sustainability is a mission statement for us. There’s so much hardware and infrastructure at a shoot, so to the extent we can reduce our footprint we do.”
Verde trailers feature repurposed stone, glass, metal and wood; recycled fabric, carpet and draperies; LED lighting; and low-lead paint. The 47-foot Star Verde is eco-friendly and “super-swanky” with four pop-outs, separate HD satellite system, 65-inch LED 4K TV, Apple TV, 12-foot sectional sofa, queen-size bed and a separate rear-entry that can be used as a make-up station or office. “We have five Star Verdes and are building more,” Elliott reports.
Quixote is testing solar-panel roofs on three rigs in L.A., but Elliott notes that heavy and expensive battery technology “needs to catch up” before solar can power a base camp.
Elliott is proud of the high level of service Quixote delivers to customers. When Quixote client Ellen Degeneres was shooting promos on an L.A. studio back lot, the satellite dish on her trailer was blocked by a massive soundstage and unable to pick up the Super Bowl broadcast that she wanted to see. “We couldn’t move the trailer on the back lot so our driver worked with the studio to get clearance to put our dish on top of one of the stages,” Elliott recalls. Talk about climbing to new heights.
Eco-Friendly Hollywood Trucks Spans the Globe
In less than eight years Hollywood Trucks, LLC has serviced over 1,000 projects, reports president and CEO Andre Champagne. The entertainment transportation company serves features, TV series, commercials, concerts, and other live events. The company was founded in New Orleans, with full-service operations in Atlanta and at Mississippi Film Studios in Canton. Additional growth cities include Los Angeles and New York by the third and fourth quarters of 2016. Hollywood Trucks is currently building assets for the UK, which will be utilized through its offices at Pinewood Studios London.
“We feel that two factors are instrumental to our growth,” says Champagne. “We’re largely built on a ‘franchise model’ and focus on partnerships with studios at their respective developments around the country. We also primarily offer eco-friendly assets. We believe that it’s not only the future of our industry, it’s essentially the future of logistics.”
In Georgia, Hollywood Trucks has its fleet at Pinewood Atlanta Studios and Atlanta Metro Studios; it will have vehicles at Third Rail Studios in Atlanta beginning in September. Recent credits in Georgia and on the Gulf Coast include Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ant-Man, The Magnificent Seven remake, the feature Deepwater Horizon, The CW series The Originals, Lifetime’s Devious Maids, SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard, and AMC’s Into the Badlands.
The flagship of Hollywood’s expansive fleet is the Ecoluxe line, which launched in 2014 and now includes every category of vehicle, not just talent trailers. “We’re building the Ecoluxe line as fast as we can,” Champagne says. “The entertainment industry is extremely eco-friendly, and it wants safer, quieter, clean-energy powered assets.”
Hollywood Trucks’ new patent-pending “off-grid” solar/thermal Ecoluxe line offers a 90 percent reduction in fuel and idling and reportedly has the safest and quietest trailers in the world. The latest edition has just received the world’s first off-grid Emerald certification by TRA (an internationally accredited certification organization that caters to the modular home industry). Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, and many others, including the casts of American Horror Story and Fantastic Four, have experienced Ecoluxe talent trailers.
Ecoluxe trailers feature LED lighting, recycled countertops, ultra-low VOC compounds, and eco-friendly fabrics – and they don’t skimp on luxury. Stylish interiors are also technologically advanced with 3D flat screen TVs, Apple TV, and Apple Extreme high-speed Internet in every room – all included in the rental rate.
Hollywood’s large fleet features many types of production transportation, including 5- and 10-ton camera trucks as well as camera cubes for small features and commercials or space-strapped locations. Hair and make-up trailers comprise 6- to 9-station models; 48- and 53-foot wardrobe trailers are spacious and boast LED lighting.
“We’re now building our entire platform off the grid so every asset runs on 100 percent clean energy with solar and thermal-powered units,” says Champagne. “We have about 30 units coming off the line in the next 30 days in all categories. We’re about to roll out our first 53-foot wardrobe trailer that’s completely powered by solar and thermal technologies. It will be unveiled in 30 days and head straight to a production.
Champagne further notes: “Many companies now understand that eco-friendly assets are the future. We’re fortunate to have introduced our first eco-friendly talent trailer in late 2012, and we’ve been refining our patent-pending technologies and applying them to multiple applications of the fleet ever since.”
Georgia’s Lightnin' is No Flash in the Pan
A third-generation company, Lightnin' Production Rentals in Lawrenceville, Georgia launched 41 years ago with one truck. Lightnin' was “the American dream of somebody with an idea who listened to what crews wanted and needed,” says president Gary Lewis, son of the founders.
Lightnin' has continued to listen as it expands its fleet and moves from success to success. “The industry is constantly changing so you have to be able to adapt quickly,” Lewis notes. “Our extensive experience and feedback from customers enable us to design and build many of our units here in Lawrenceville.”
The company has earned many credits over four decades in film and television, including Driving Miss Daisy, Forrest Gump, and The Blind Side. More recent work encompasses the entire Hunger Games franchise, the fifth and seventh installments of Fast and Furious and the current Fast 8, the Divergent features, the series Powers (distributed by PlayStation Network), and OWN’s new show Greenleaf. Lightnin' also provided full complements of trucks and trailers to season three of Sleepy Hollow and all six seasons of The Walking Dead.
“We primarily cover the East Coast from Boston to Florida and across to the Gulf Coast,” says Lewis. “We have a full facility in Brooklyn to service and supply the New York area.”
He believes that Lightnin’s “superior customer service,” expressed in the motto, “Whatever It Takes,” sets the company apart. “We respond in hours, not days, with a skilled and experienced team of craftsmen, many of whom have 20-plus years in the industry,” says Lewis. “Two full-time mobile service trucks in Georgia check sets daily and carry a full complement of parts and supplies should they be needed. Price doesn’t drive this market: the quality of the equipment and the level of customer service do.”
Lightnin’s camera trucks range in size from 26 to 48 feet. Adjustable and removable shelving accommodates the growing need to house complete cart systems, not just camera components. “One recent production had six carts, so they needed plenty of room to roll them in,” Lewis explains. “We’ve also seen the need for cart space in lighting and grip.”
Wardrobe trailers are 53 feet with adjustable racks and shelving and movable workstations; changing rooms can be set up in both front and rear areas. 6-, 8- and 10-station hair and make-up trailers and a combo make-up/wardrobe trailer fill the bill for any size production.
“Our 53-foot hair and make-up trailer is our biggest, with tile floors, high-end chairs, and all the amenities,” says Lewis. “This is probably the most exciting category to build because you have to supply many cast and crew in one trailer with enough power, water, heat and air conditioning. You can’t build them on a budget; you have to use the best products you can.”
Honeywagons are designed to be robust with large holding tanks, big generators, and insulated ceilings and floors that can withstand all climates.
Lightnin’s fleet of single star and multi-star trailers make every inch count while providing all the amenities talent need on location. “We’re constantly turning out new 2- and 3-room star trailers,” says Lewis. “The trend is for pop-outs; everybody wants them. We design floor plans to be very spacious and open with high ceilings. And we take pride in providing ample power with fuel-efficient, on-board Onan generators.”
As The Walking Dead begins shooting season seven, Lightnin' will unveil its unique 53-foot “Zombie Trailer.” “I don’t think there are any other trailers out there dedicated to special-effects make-up,” says Lewis. “We worked with the special-effects make-up department to meet their needs for extensive zombie make-up and overflow costuming.” Lightnin' regularly provides two 53-foot hair and make-up trailers for the series as well as a 30-foot unit when required.
Lightnin’s star trailers are built by a TRA-certified green manufacturer using environmentally friendly and recycled components, Lewis says. “We introduced our first solar units in 1995, but the technology was not as practical as it is today. Being green is now being taken seriously by manufacturers and consumers. We’re developing new solar units, which we hope to introduce on our talent trailers this summer. But this is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what you’ll see in the next five years.”
Reyes Production Vehicles in Build Mode
Reyes Production Vehicles is headquartered in Los Angeles, where its trailers are designed and built, and has offices in New York and Atlanta. The Atlanta operation occupies a 20,000 square-foot warehouse in Villa Rica. “We are currently focusing on building our Atlanta location,” says president Kimberly Frank, who is a bicoastal resident.
The company started four years ago with private RV rentals, but has been phasing out private rentals and steering the business to the production market. Although Reyes is relatively new to the production market, Frank is a former production coordinator with 10 years experience having worked with Amblin Productions, Spelling Television, MTM Enterprises, Lorimar and MGM. She has also had careers in the music business and in the LAPD. Frank taps her knowledge of what it’s like behind the scenes in the business to build trucks that offer the perfect working environment.
Frank consults with industry specialists as she designs new trailers, and she makes it a practice to ask customers for suggestions on how to improve the fleet after a job is completed. “I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas from talking to them,” she says.
The Reyes fleet has combination production/wardrobe/make-up trailers which typically offer open rack space for wardrobe and additional drawers and cupboards; kitchenette areas; salon chairs; lighting choices for the mirrored make-up stations; and crew restrooms. It also features four 8-dressing room honeywagons with separate crew restrooms; two are in L.A., one is currently on set in Austin, and another is headed to Atlanta. Celebrity/talent vehicles are all plush, 40- to 43-foot motorhomes.
“We currently have a 53-foot honeywagon under construction along with 40-foot wardrobe trailers and talent trailers,” says Frank. Honeywagons have heated insulation, “so everything stays warm in cold weather,” and can travel to any climate.
Reyes addresses sustainability issues with LED lighting in just about every vehicle, lots of recycled components, and low-VOC paint. Frank expects to begin installing solar panels on trailer roofs soon.
Reyes has a long list of national credits, including the Fox series The Last Man on Earth, where vehicles were featured on camera; the film Woodlawn in Birmingham, Alabama; Hulu’s Deadbeat series in New York; the E! reality series I Am Cait with Caitlyn Jenner in L.A. and on location; two seasons of Destination America’s Ghost Asylum in Memphis and on location; HBO Sports projects in New York and L.A.; the feature Day Five and the web series Crunch Time in Austin, a Milk commercial in L.A. with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; and a Fergie music video in L.A. A wardrobe/make-up trailer supplemented a Broadway project for Sting and his wife Trudie Styler.
In Atlanta Reyes production vehicles have been busy with music videos, music festivals and numerous commercials, including spots for Dish Network, The Walking Dead, Golden Corral, Georgia Power, AT&T, UPS, Staybridge Suites, Home Depot, and Hungry Man. They were also on hand for a Capital One commercial starring Jennifer Garner and spots with Shaquille O’Neal and Tracy Morgan.
“While our offices are in L.A., New York, and Atlanta, our trucks will go wherever the job takes them,” says Frank.
This article can be found on page 32 of the May-June issue of Oz Magazine