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Scott & his Wagon’s Movie Adventure

• CATEGORIES: Features, Reader Stories, Willys Wagons
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Scott’s pre-movie wagon. Note the temporary passenger window.

Scott from Cincinnati shares his experience about the use of his Willys Wagon for a major motion picture. For him it was a positive experience. Thanks to Scott for creating this post!

In early march of this year I was contacted by a production co., showing an interest in pre 1955 vehicles for an upcoming movie to be filmed locally called Carol and starring Kate Blanchett. Apparently Cincinnati’s history and architecture is commonly used as a backdrop to post war NYC. I sent them some pictures and explained that my willys was in running condition and a few days later they called and offered to wrap the vehicle to use it as a prop NYC postal delivery truck.

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US Mail Wagon and Dj-5 Mail Jeep

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This green color is what they selected.

I sent more pictures and soon had a proof of their final rendering. To my surprise the scenes involving my wagon were less than two weeks away. After not hearing from my contact for a few days, I reached out and was, sadly, informed that the wrap contractor wasn’t able to meet the production schedule.

Somehow the conversation turned to paint as a possibility. Later that evening she found a body shop willing to do the job in less than a week on their dime. Coincidentally the paint color in the rendering was close enough to get them to agree to a very similar Woodstock green to factory.

The following morning I drove the willys there and inspected their facilities and current projects, a berlinetta here, a classics Mercedes there and even a frame off corvair, obviously they were overqualified for the job at hand. Initially the shop was hesitant to take the project on, after they realized how much metal, body and prep would be required. I agreed to furnish all necessary hard parts at my cost and they would provide the paint, as agreed with the production company.

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Thanks to Willys Overland for supplying this wagon sheet metal!

So how do you find new sheet metal overnight? After many hours calling the usual suspects, whom all agreed that a driver’s quarter panel was too big for overnight delivery no matter the cost, I finally found an ohio willys parts retailer http://www.willysoverland.com and they promised to have it for pickup in the morning. A buddy agreed to drive to Toledo and pick up the parts and, of course, walcks came through for all of the remaining soft parts and seals needed a few days later, after paint. That Saturday I visited the willys in the paint booth and let’s just say I was speechless. On Monday the production folks were going to the shop to apply their temporary decals and special effects, with filing to occur the next day. 

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Sheet metal applied to wagon.

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The wagon’s in the paint booth.

I arrived on set just before filming and it didn’t take long to see my Willys in action. The scene was a sprawling historic estate, high on a afluent hill overlooking the Ohio River, with the willys puttering down the residential street, up the drive and hand delivering an envelope. I won’t spoil the scene any further…

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The painted and aged wagon ready for filming.

I was able to stay close and involved and the file and production crew were awesome. I did notice that the older gentleman playing the role of postman was struggling with the clutch, so a mechanic was placed inside the vehicle hiding on the floor, as that he could more quickly jump in the driver seat and relocate the willys between takes. Somehow I must have missed the opportunity for the obvious….

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After getting the truck home, I immediately started a warm water wash to remove all of the movie makeup and unfortunately this is sad part so brace yourselves, apparently the production and movie prop art folks that made the wagon look salty for the scene, applied a product that was permanent and I was able to remove it. In addition the temporary lettering appeared to be hard painted with permanent paint and after further examination, the wheels, bumpers and grill had been rattle canned black.

I contacted production and explained my unhappiness with the condition. They agreed to fix it. I returned the wagon to the body shop. They hired a detailer who was also unable to remove the product, so they graciously agreed to start all over again. Three weeks later it was all done, unfortunately my hood flew up and caused some damage on the maiden voyage, but that just goes to show that you can’t have good luck, without a little bad.

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After the final paint job.

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Even the passenger side window was fixed.

I’m still taken aback and truly grateful that I was lucky enough to have this happen. I’m now in the process of installing my all new interior and more excited to be forever rid of the surfer motif, Carol is scheduled for release next year and I believe my scene is the ending of the movie 

 

3 Comments on “Scott & his Wagon’s Movie Adventure

  1. Mike Finegan

    Scott, I hope they paid you enough for your time and trouble; Having done this myself many times in the past with my vintage vehicle collection, I’ll never do it again. Living in the NJ NYC area, many film Opportunities (?)
    come your way and most vintage vehicle owners jump at the chance to have their vehicle in a movie. Speaking for myself and my local crew of old car buddies; Film production companies treat vehicle owners like garbage and pay them accordingly.

    Think about this the next time your approached about a film venture; Don’t let them Bully you, be aggressive in your attitude and act like a businessman; this is big money talking and vintage vehicle
    owners should get paid accordingly for their investment.

    You can always count on me to give you a mouth full; but I always give you the bottom line.

  2. Steve E.

    Mike, that’s what I’ve heard about movie companies. I’m glad you shared your first hand experience. I learned this from a guy who has a Tucker. He said that same thing you did, “I’ll never do that again.” He was in the 1988 movie, but very briefly because he wouldn’t let them paint over the original black paint so it would photograph better. He warned that if you do want to be in a movie, read the contract very carefully and never leave your car’s side. They may be able to blow up your car for dramatic effects. They may even dent or scratch your car and you have to pay for it, and unless you have explicit verbiage stating that they will pay for damage. These type of people look a the dollar amount attracting people to the box office, not the historical value of your old car. To them, a car is just a car, and it can be sacrificed for their beloved movie. They may not care about your beloved automobile. Frances F. Coppula has one of the Tuckers from his movie on display in the Movie Gallery, next to the Gift Shop at his winery in Northern Sonoma County, CA.

    Scott, I’m glad you had a fairly good experience with the movie. I’ll be sure to see it and look for your beautiful Wagon. Too bad they didn’t choose to save the cost of two movie employees. I’m sure you would have let them make you up as an old postman, included in the price of using the Willys. You could have been as famous as your Jeep. (lol)

    **Steve E.**

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