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Film Focus: Driving The Film Industry

By Staff Reports, posted Jul 1, 2022
(Photo c/o Camera Car Service LLC)

Camera Car Service LLC

Year founded: 2018
 
Top officials: Cliff Willman and Grant Spears, owners
 
What does the company do with regard to film? Willman: “Camera Car Services provides a mobile platform for lighting and camera equipment to create plate and driving shoots.
 
“The camera car also pulls a process trailer which is a low-profile car trailer with sides on the left and right to mount lighting and camera equipment. As you see an actor drive down the road, they are usually on a process trailer. It’s more about safety than anything: This allows the actor to concentrate on acting and not driving.
 
“We provide this service for feature films, television and commercials anywhere on the East Coast.”
 
What is a camera car, and how does it work? Willman: “It’s actually a truck: a 2018 Ford F-350. It was bought new as a cab and chassis designed and built by myself and my nephew Billy Campbell. It has an air-ride suspension in the front with air assist in the rear. It’s equipped with a 20k generator to power lights cameras and video equipment.
 
“On either side of the truck bed pipes, known as speed rails, are used to attach lights and camera in any position needed. The front deck is used for camera mounting and operators. For chase scenes, we put two camera operators in safety harnesses on the front. Our camera car is also designed to carry a camera crane. This gives [crew members] the ability to raise the camera and move it left and right as needed. The camera car pulls a process trailer that carries the car being filmed. The camera car crew consists of a driver and sound mixer in the cab, and a director, director of photography, first assistant director, script supervisor, producer and key grip [in seats] on the back.”
 
How did you get into this business? Willman: “I am a retired fire captain from the Wilmington Fire Department. As all firefighters do, we all have to work part-time jobs. So I started out in the film business in 1992 as a set medic. From there I worked in special effects, providing fire protection and making rain [effects for film]. When I retired from the WFD, I was then asked to join the transportation department where I concentrated most of my efforts in picture cars. This is what led me to build my camera car.”
 
What are you working on right now? Willman: “I currently work in the transportation department on Hightown.”
 
Any memorable customers or anecdotes? Willman: “Some of the more memorable things that come to mind are car-to-car/motorcycle chase scenes through the mountains on Banshee. Also, car-to-car chasing BMWs for BMW commercials on the test track in South Carolina.
 
“What I enjoy most is driving car-to-car chase scenes. Those are the days I can’t believe they are paying me.”
Editor’s note: Film Focus is a monthly series looking at the people and businesses that are local vendors to the film industry. To be considered for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Film Focus feature, contact [email protected].
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