Production Services

The Importance of Pre-Production

Preparation is paramount. Whether it is a movie, commercial, scripted or unscripted. If the scene involves vehicles traveling at high speeds you have to be ready for when something goes wrong. Being proactive during pre-production greatly reduces the risk to the cast and crew once shooting starts.

In 2016 I was asked to design the courses for the show that ultimately became Hyperdrive. I was involved with the production from the beginning. Including the creative and design process for all the obstacles used on the show, and was tasked with getting the competitors safely from obstacle to obstacle. I was on every location scout and was usually the first person the EP/Showrunner looked at when the question “can we do this here” was asked.

What We Do

Design, construction and shooting safety consultation for production sets utilizing high speed vehicles. The goal is to create the safest work environment possible for crew and cast. Scripted or unscripted, we work in both worlds.

We are not your typical set safety company. Our specialty is crew and cast safety on sets utilizing vehicles at high speeds. We can provide expertise, personnel and equipment to make sure your needs are addressed to your complete satisfaction.

However, should your circumstances dictate additional support we can handle that. My expertise is the primary driving force behind MCS. But, we have a rolodex that is unparalleled and includes the best and most experienced safety personnel in the business. In addition to having worked in Film, Commercials and on Hyperdrive, our specialists have years of experience evaluating and addressing high speed incidents in F1, Indycar, NASCAR and IMSA. We have paramedics, firefighters, extrication specialists, nurses, physicians and engineers that are experienced in getting it done fast and right. We also have our own custom response trucks that include fire, extrication and medical intervention capabilities.

The next time you are watching a race on TV and there is a crash, you will see the response team arrive on scene and immediately jump into each of their assigned roles…do you know what they are hearing in their headsets, it will be something like… “we are in commercial break, back in 2 minutes, get that car off the track, I am not finishing this race under yellow”…or worse, a few years ago a team of local inexperienced EMT’s took so long to get the driver out and the car removed that the network went to a golf tournament scheduled to start after the race was done and they lost the last 10 laps. Get it done right and get it done now!

How We Do It

We are involved with you in planning the shot. As a resource for the Director, DP, LD, etc., working with everyone involved to ensure your set is as safe as it can possibly be while not compromising the budget, the vision and end result.

Added Benefits

By having MCS involved in the planning from the beginning, you will greatly reduce the need for on set fixes to problems that probably should have been foreseen. In other words, we know how to make your set as safe as possible as cost effectively as possible. We are used to production deadlines and budgets and understand that we can sink or swim as a team…

Why Us?

We are experts in what happens when a driver loses control of a car, and where it is going to end up coming to rest. When you are pushing vehicles to their limit you use the best drivers you can find, however, the possibility for something to go wrong is always there. By using our experience, you are planning for if it goes wrong and eliminating as much risk as possible for your cast and crew.

These days safety is paramount. When I started in racing, we used water barrels and hay bales as barriers and injuries were common…we have come a long way to where we are today, where safety is a planned, scientific and procedural practice. Injuries are uncommon these days, as they should be.

My experience with the production of the Indycar, F1 and IMSA racing TV broadcasts, directly relates to the production of a film, television show or commercial. I worked very closely with the production staff of the race broadcasts to ensure they could get the shots they wanted without sacrificing the safety of the crew. The same thing we do for you.

If you understand what the end result has to look like, it is relatively easy to plan camera and crew placement…the trick is not to expose the camera operators to unnecessary risk. And it’s not just the camera operators, cameras are expensive and tend to very hard and heavy, meaning that your cast is also being exposed to potential risks if you don’t get the equipment located (or protected) so that the director can get the shot, and the risks to cast and crew are reduced or eliminated.

When I was on the Horton Safety Team for Indycar back in the 80’s and 90’s and later as Director of Circuit Development for the series, we would go to each corner of a track and put a mark on the ground where the cars were going to hit the wall in that corner, so we could locate our rescue resources to be the most effective. That was learned by driving experience and by watching cars spin and lose control at tracks around the world for more than 30 years.

If you know the mark where the car has to be for the shot, you can extrapolate what happens if the driver loses control and where the car will end up. Eliminate stuff to hit if that happens and you are on the way to having the safest set possible.

So, if you have the knowledge when you are in pre-production, by default you are able to plan a safer set with the shots you want, because you planned it from the beginning. Pre-planning also eliminates expensive last-minute fixes on set. It always costs a lot more to fix a problem on set than if you plan everything in advance.

We save you money!

The following excerpt from an article in the IGC magazine is just one example of how we can save the production money. If we had been liaising with the Production Designer and Art Department during pre-production, the problem would have been seen and addressed when the set was being designed, not after it was built…result, tens of thousands of dollars would have been saved!

This is not a criticism of anyone involved with this production, but an example of how, if we are involved during pre-production, we can save you money and keep everyone as safe as possible.

Given the subject matter, safety was uppermost. DGA 1st AD Adam Somner (known for his many films with Steven Spielberg) says the one- to two-mile stretches of rural roads in Georgia had to be monitored by 20 production assistants to prevent wayward residents from wandering on set. Somner also recalls an on-camera wall built for the pit crews to stand behind. “I asked, 'What is this wall made of?' And when they said, 'Wood,' I said: 'What happens if a car, God forbid, comes hurtling down the track, loses it and goes through this wall?' That became a 150,000-dollar studio decision,” Somner recalls. “Instead of a set-built wall of wood, it became a concrete wall that a car could hit at speed and protect those on the other side.” “We had to put in concrete barriers that were engineered for a one hundred mile-per-hour crash,”….“The foundations went down ten feet and were critical for safety.”

Originally appeared in IGC (International Cinematographers Guild) magazine editorial – The Way Forward (Ford vs. Ferrari), by Ted Elrick

This a great example of how our experience could have saved the production time and money. I am sure the design and production of the wall to protect the pit crews took some time. We are able to review the scene in the planning process and eliminate the need for last minute “150,000-dollar studio decisions.”

Our solution would probably have been to rent concrete barriers (and debris fence panels if necessary) designed and engineered to stop F1 race cars and have them delivered and set up as part of the plan. The Art Department could then dress the barriers to be period correct.