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 Post subject: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:27 pm
Posts: 477
Location: Milford,Mass
Hi All
My question for you is this when any movie production company comes in, and wants to use your railroad, for and upcoming movie, how are the rates set?
Let says for example, a production company comes in and wants to use your Steam Locomotive passager cars and the Railroad in general for there next upcoming movie.
For example a Railroad tourist line, like the Valley RR, or the D&S, or C&T RR, who sets the Rates, for equipment, insurance, crews, etc, The Movie Company or the Railroad?

My last question will be this, let's say you are a Shortline, do the same rates apply or are they different? I will use the Movie The Fugitive with Harrison Ford.

Ok, maybe I will get some good answers, to the question, and Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5745
Location: southeastern USA
It's a negotiation, and I'd weigh it heavily in your favor since movie companies never leave things better than they found them - count on cleanup and damage repair after they disappear. Oh, and of course payment in advance.

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 434
We have done a few movie/magazine shoots over the years at work.

A) Jack your rates WAY up before you even start negotiating, because they are going to chew you down and nickle and dime you on every last thing. It is ALWAYS a "Low budget".

B) Get EVERYTHING in writing. Every last detail you can possible think of, then add more.

C) They are responsible for everything. Even if its a scratch. We had an instance where a producer started messing around with stuff and broke a window.

D) Watch them like hawks. Bring in additional people if need be, because they will be totally clueless to the environment they are in. One of my guys had to grab one of Anthony Bourdain's cameramen because he was about half a second from going swimming in the Hudson.

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 964
Your historic artifacts and buildings are just sets and props to the filmers. They are there to get the shots they want as quick as possible not protect your stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:03 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1265
A few more hints:

Remember that they came to you, not the other way round, in the negotiations. There are many places both below and above the line where expenses can be cut to make up whatever you demand in terms.

I second the point about documenting every potential damage or loss scenario in the best general terms you can. Where I found the nickel-and-diming negotiations to come into play was any case of loss or damage not specifically nailed down as (a) contractual and (b) relatively certain to result in a sure and enforceable judgment of reasonable magnitude, plus full attorney fees, if breached. And do not ever, ever take a verbal promise from any of them as either good or binding. In my very long experience dealing with the commercial film industry, they never paid or satisfied an oral assurance. But would bend over backward to satisfy any appearance of breach in writing. They have the funds; they have the insurance. And you could care less about their "budget".

Ensure that you have a list, with rudimentary ID facsimiles such as license copies, of everyone who comes to your property. And be sure that at least one designated individual of your organization has the right to demand ID from anyone at any time (remember this is private property, where I believe it is trespass to remain without properly identifying to an owner on reasonable request. See below for part of the reason, but you won't discuss 'why' with them when contracting. Have local law enforcement aware and at least standing by in case of "issues" enforcing this.

If you have any way to make their setup or strike more effective, work with them, I went so far as to have high-voltage power wiring put in the basement and taps out to the sides in various places in order to reduce the problems associated with renting and running a separate generator truck. In some cases, having larger doorway openings makes setting up for shots with the whole crew of interns a practical thing.

Be very, very aware of people in "the crew" taking a bit too much of an interest in your property, or your security arrangements, or the equipment and parts you have. We identified several 'spotters' for criminal efforts, a couple of whom actually weren't part of the crew at all (it is usually difficult to tell who is part of the crew as even when they have tags, it's ridiculously easy to print up a convincing-looking item).

I'll admit it's fun to mess with the folks at times. I took one person who was showing a bit too much interest in the security-system wiring downstairs where I pointed out that the wiring he had seen was fake and was connected to high-voltage as a trap (while closing the operating contacts of a 4160V 3-phase switch I had rigged as a prop for just this purpose. Whir went the chain, BANG went the contacts, out came the corona discharge from the home-made Tesla coil concealed behind the Jacob's ladder. Interestingly, although almost every other house on our street got knocked over during the 1970s, ours did not in spite of being about half windows...

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:25 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1769
Location: Southern California
I once worked for a scaffolding and shoring supply company in the Greater Los Angles area. Every now and then we'd get a request for our product. We doubled or tripled or more our usual rental price. Our home office said to forget about what studio the production company was working out of -- they are all independents -- get all the money up front! One time we had a prop or location man come in and he had story after story of damage done by the production crews who had no regard of where they were.

From the railway museum end of things I have some comments. Keep an eye on the crew just as if they were in your house. One time to get a camera angle it was decided to take out a coach seat; it was one with a aisle light and it was a pain to rewire the fixture. One time we were told that the paint applied to the cars would be a water soluble coat that could be washed off -- turned out to be water based latex that would not clean off. One of the streetcars went off property and the end sill was damaged in the unloading; a damage claim was made and paid -- only problem is that the claim was only for the cost of the material and not covering the labor to make the repair.

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:19 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1772
Location: Strasburg, PA
Brian Norden wrote:
Keep an eye on the crew just as if they were in your house. One time to get a camera angle it was decided to take out a coach seat; it was one with a aisle light and it was a pain to rewire the fixture. One time we were told that the paint applied to the cars would be a water soluble coat that could be washed off -- turned out to be water based latex that would not clean off. One of the streetcars went off property and the end sill was damaged in the unloading; a damage claim was made and paid -- only problem is that the claim was only for the cost of the material and not covering the labor to make the repair.
We've had to repaint cars that were "temporarily" covered with paint that "will wash right off", so budget for a complete repaint anytime a movie person even approaches a piece of your equipment with a painting tool.

Likewise, don't trust them to have any respect for your property. We had one drill holes in a new rubber roof to mount some piece of equipment for a fifteen minute shoot.

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:58 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1519
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Repeating some of the comments above, you are not dealing with the major studio, but instead, with a "flee by night" company set up temporarily just for the purpose of the present filming.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:45 pm 

Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:33 am
Posts: 185
A friend of mine owns a company that rents vehicles and stages wrecks etc for the movie companies. We were approached by a company wanting our coaches to just sit idle for the shooting for 6months, basically as the set. Lets just say make sure you get everything in writing, take before and after pictures, and walkthroughs. We asked for stupid money, and they didn't bat an eye. 3 times the going polar rate a month. The project got shelved but we are now on the radar.

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2124
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Anyone ever thinking of letting a film crew get their hands on anything you want back only needs to see this: https://ew.com/article/2016/02/05/museum-hateful-eight-smashing-guitar/ and https://reverb.com/news/cf-martin-responds-to-the-destruction-of-145-year-old-guitar-on-hateful-eight-set After reading this, you'll get sick to your stomach watching that scene (even if you couldn't care less about guitars in general, normally), I assure you. And as I heard, they apparently tossed out the remains, so the museum wasn't even able to try to rebuild it!
JimBoylan wrote:
Repeating some of the comments above, you are not dealing with the major studio, but instead, with a "flee by night" company set up temporarily just for the purpose of the present filming.

Not RR stuff, but I've known people who leased/rented/loaned military vehicles to some big name production companies and a lot of stuff got back horribly damaged. Some negotiated ahead of time, some didn't. You can imagine the guy who didn't, who got his beloved command car (with new leather seats) returned with a seized engine and seats cut to ribbons. Frankly, I have no idea how the Tank Museum allowed the use of their priceless Panzer VI (Tiger I) in the filming of the oddly-written film, "Fury"...

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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:58 am
Posts: 85
Consider why you have the equipment. If it is to flesh out a museum (or attract a paying visitorship), and the production company wants to haul the equipment off site to another location, you will essentially be out of business until it gets back (and repaired). Whether off site or on site, insist on your own operating crews--and figure in their wages and housing. Monitor modifications (if you allow it at all). And--to your basic question--you set the fee, not the production company. There is very little glory in doing this and you can be relieved if they go somewhere else our generate their train in a computer. There are some companies that exist to lease railroad equipment to production companies. Let them handle it.

I've even started charging for my time in doing on-camera interviews. That and asking for a list of their questions in advance. They generally haven't thought that far ahead! They all want to be Ken Burns and expect you to provide content (at no cost) that they can turn around and sell. Frankly, it's like taking general exams!


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 134
Location: Ontario, Canada.
I was supposed to take part in a Ron Howard film to be shot in Toronto. I was to simply sit in a friend's firetruck in uniform and keep watch on the truck while it was being used in the filming. The film was cancelled because of sensitivity related to families of victims of the 9-11 attacks on New York, which was understandable.
Make it all about optimizing the bucks and protecting your assets. In the end, the credit to your organization that will pass by in a flash on the screen will be seen by few.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9494
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Nova55 wrote:
B) Get EVERYTHING in writing. Every last detail you can possible think of, then add more.


Then hire an outsider--a consultant in the movie industry, a lawyer, and/or another rail consulting firm--and have them look it over and think of and add everything you forgot about, never even remotely thought about, or assumed you didn't have to put in writing because it was "so obvious/common sense."

Then add their bill to your invoice to the movie makers.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:35 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:44 pm
Posts: 58
Often the production companies that you sign a contract with are shell companies that exist just for that one production. They have no assets. Get full payment in advance. Make sure the company has insurance with a reputable carrier. Make sure your organization is specifically named as additional insured, and is fully indemnified by the insurance company.


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 Post subject: Re: Movie Railroad Question
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:44 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 719
Location: New Franklin, OH
If your equipment goes off-site, send a crew with it. They need to be around it all the time and on it when operating if possible. Add travel and any per diem costs into your price for your guys. On the positive side, I hear the food provided by the film company's caterers is usually quite extensive and not half bad.

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