Another DeLorean owner who was out of town, called to ask if I was free today for a film shoot in LA. I told him to share my name and phone number. Although I’ve done some extras work, I’ve never taken the DeLorean to a film shoot, so I had no idea what to expect. It turned out great.
One of the product coordinators called me 10:24a and asked how soon I could get to them. Once she told me they were in downtown LA (very close to the exterior location for ‘Paddy’s Pub’ from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), I told her at least 45 minutes drive time (plus a shower before I leave!) She said that’s great, and they need me (the car) as soon as possible. By 10:35a I was in the car and on the road.
The production was a music video for an Australian pop/hip-hop artist. Apparently the previously scheduled DeLorean cancelled on the production this morning, so they were a bit frantic. Credit to many of the production leaders, as they thanked me multiple times for showing up so quickly.
When I pulled up, it was the typical shooting location – several big box trucks with gear all over, a power trailer with cables leading into the building, a few grips with rolls of tape and C-47s on their shirts, smoking in front. (What’s a “C-47” you may ask? It’s an old accounting name for ‘clothespins’. HA!) Just like ‘Paddy’s Pub’, the location was an ‘abandoned’ warehouse, possibly built in the 1920s (according to the property manager), the “flats” area of downtown Los Angeles. The exterior is exactly what you’d expect from an old storage building, and the interior was… also what you’d expect from an old storage building – exposed beams, old paint, rusty metal… tons of character!
Within 30 seconds of pulling up, I was directed to park, facing the big rolling door in front of the building. A few moments later, the ‘First Assistant Director’ (“1st AD”) came out and introduced himself and explained that they would open the door shortly, clean a path, and have me pull the DeLorean into the building. While we waited, at least six different crew members came out to see the DMC #10515, and were maybe more interested and excited than I’d seen anyone at regular car shows. Lots of the commons questions about the car flowed, and as always, I loved sharing the details, history, story of John DeLorean, and of my own DeLorean car.
Not too long passed before the 1st AD asked me to come inside to see the path I’d be driving through a ‘small’ doorway into another part of the building, where they would shoot the first segment. The crew cleared the path, several people were spotters for the tight fit, and they directed me to put the car in just the right spot.
Within minutes, lights and black shades were going up, dolly tracks, video monitors, and cables were getting set, and I quickly removed the dash-cam and charging hub and cables to the trunk so they wouldn’t be in any shots.
As the lighting came on – UGH! What I thought was a pretty clean DeLorean became an embarrassment! The hand and fingers prints on the stainless steel and glass were incredibly prominent, and the dust on the louvers and other dark parts of the car showed up like dandruff on a black suit! The 1st AD called for “car prep” and a guy got to work wiping down the car and cleaning the windows. Colored gels and kino lights are NOT a friend to an un-painted DeLorean! I jumped in with a ‘duster’ and rag, but it never really looked as good (or clean) as it does in sunlight. During this time, more crew members and talent for the music video were enthusiastic about the car, asking questions and taking photos.
The Director (Mark) and DP (Director of Photography – Johnny Ching) started blocking the shots and thing got rolling. I had no idea what I should (or shouldn’t) do… stand against the wall in case they needed something? Go into the other room with the talent, who were all on their phones? Being that I’m a fan (and one-time cinematography/camera-operator hopeful), I opted to hang out in the room with the other 15 crew members working on the shoot. I got to answer a few questions and help with a couple of details with the DeLorean, then I just hung out and watched how a scene from a music video is done.
After many takes, some lighting tweaks, and the song being played over and over as the artist sang along, they were done. With this shot. Then they brought in the ‘love-interest’ and they did many more takes of the song, with the couple at the front of the DeLorean, then jumping inside and closing the doors. All very fun.
Time for lunch. LOTS more photos of the DeLorean by the cast and crew. LOTS more questions and discussions about everything from cocaine (from the ‘older’ crew members), to car and engine specs, to Back to the Future. SUPER. FUN! Everyone was fired up about the DeLorean! As I usually do, I invited cast and crew to get into the car to take pictures, and they all loved it and were thankful. Many of the cast of the music video couldn’t have been over 26 years old, but they were just as pumped about the car. Many knew of it because of the movies, but several were just in love with the look and design of the car, not having ever watched BTTF.
After lunch they shot a scene in an adjoining space of an ‘arcade’ and dance party. (They brought in some GREAT classic games! When I saw that they had Crystal Castles, I HAD to get in a few games!!) I watched, chatted with those who were also waiting, talked on the phone a bit, did some email, and waited.
Then it was time to pull the car back outside for some shots of the star ‘driving up’ to the ‘arcade’. First, he’s from Australia and wasn’t familiar with our ‘left-hand-drive’ cars. Then, there’s the built-in “millennial anti-theft device” – the 5-speed manual transmission. 🙂 But, he of course knew how to use the brakes. So they setup a long lead, and got several big guys to push the DeLorean up to 88mph the front of the arcade. It seemed to work well. (We’ll see when the music video drops!)
Several more shots and angles of him getting out, his buddies greeting him, his ‘crew’ seeing the girl’s ‘crew’, then going inside.
Then, more waiting while they shot a big dance party / dance-off scene inside the arcade.
They didn’t release me, because they wanted to do some “car-to-car” shots. FUN! They loaded a camera into the back of a Mini Cooper and I followed them around for a while with a walkie-talkie in the DeLorean, with the Director giving instructions – “get as close as you can”, “back off”, “change lanes and hold next to us”, “pass us by, then hold at our front corner”, “stay at the same speed as we drive around you”. In the end, the Director made a serious statement that I did a great job driving!
When we were done with the “car-to-car”, we went back to the building and they were done with the DeLorean. There were more thanks from the crew. They gave me a check, and I headed home.
11:24p I finally got home. A long day, but some of the most fun I’ve had with the DeLorean so far!
I’ll kick the other DeLorean owner a 15% ‘finders fee’, rather than the common 10%, just because I’m a nice guy, and hope I get more calls like that in the future!