Film It USA offers people the ability to list their property for filming, their vehicles for filming, and their talent information for casting opportunities. The last two postings talked about filming locations, so today I’m going to talk about picture cars.
What Is A Picture Car?
“What is a picture car?”, you may ask, so let’s start by answering that question. In terms of film production, and that includes still photography, a picture car is any vehicle that appears in the scene that is being filmed (or video taped). There are two category of picture cars, principal vehicles and background vehicles, and it refers to any type of vehicle being used, truck, motorcycle, RV, etc. Having said that, it is common practice to use the term picture car to refer only to principal vehicles and to refer to background vehicles as background cars and you might hear the term “hero car”, as well, in reference to a principal picture vehicle. Now that I’ve confused you let’s move on.
Let’s start with background cars, these are vehicles that are owned by the background actors and are driven by them, if needed, during the filming of the scene. Use of their vehicle could involve them driving it during the filming, possibly on the street or in a parking lot, or it could be parked so it appears in the scene being filmed. The background actor is responsible for his or her vehicle and is the only one who will operate it, whether during actual filming or when lining the car up for the shot to be filmed. When a background actor is asked to use their vehicle for filming, whether when being booked or on set during a day of production, they are paid a fee for the use of their vehicle, when booked in advance it is referred to as having a “car call” and the fee is payable even if they don’t use the vehicle. The fee is for the full day of filming, regardless of how many scenes the vehicle might be use in, and the amount generally ranges from $25.00 to $35.00 for the day, however, there are situations where this fee could be negotiable, say in a period picture, for example.
The Hero Car
A picture car, or hero car, is any vehicle that plays a specific role in the story line. It could be an iconic part of the story, akin to having a starring part, or it may just be the character’s mode of transportation, in either case it will convey something about the character who drives it to the audience. Star examples would include “General Lee”, the 1969 Dodge Charger in “The Dukes of Hazzard” and the Green 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback Steve McQueen drove in “Bullitt”. I think it is safe to say you would not want to rent your vehicle to take the beating those vehicles took during the filming of their scenes, but, thankfully, in the real world most people don’t drive like that. A vehicle rented for use as a picture car will be under the supervision of the transportation department and operated by a driver with the transportation department for purposes of lining up the shot. If the scene calls for it the actor will drive the picture car in the course of filming and where necessary, for safety reasons, the vehicle could be placed on a process trailer. A process trailer is a low-riding trailer that can carry the vehicle and allow the actor, or actors, in the vehicle to interact with each other in a safe environment and still give the illusion that the actor is actually driving the vehicle.
Finding Picture Cars
Production companies have a variety of sources for their picture car needs, a vehicle might be provided by the manufacturer for promotional purposes, what’s known as product placement, or with a late model vehicle it is possible to get it from a car rental company. Once you move beyond new and late model vehicles finding the right, or desired, vehicle gets more challenging. One option is picture car companies; some specialize in certain types of vehicles, such as emergency vehicles like ambulances, cop cars, etc., while others have an inventory of available vehicles they either own or represent and/or will try to find the vehicle from a private party. The other option is to find the vehicle by going directly to the private sector and rent directly from the owner and Film It USA is making this option easier by building a searchable database of vehicles with pictures and owner contact information.
Want to rent to the movies? To learn more about listing your home or business property, your car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicles, and to be included in your local talent pool visit filmitusa.com.