By Gemma Cacho
April 10, 2003
Did you know the City of San Fernando has its own airport which has served such famous celebrities as Catherine Zeta-Jones, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Ben Affleck, and Vin Diesel just to name a few. This business, which has been operating for a little over a year, has served as the premier filming set for airplane and airport related scenes but is actually not a functioning airport.
The Air Hollywood filming sets were the conception of Talaat Captan, a film producer who has produced 12 films, including the film Ground Control. “I wanted to make a movie about airplanes in an airport and I had such a hard time trying to film at an airport and on an actual airplane and the mock sets at the time were not up to standard,” said Captan. After much research, Air Hollywood landed in the city of San Fernando because of the great location.
“I needed a building with high ceilings, lots of parking, a quiet area with no trains, airplanes or freeways near by”. According to Captan, the city has cooperated with them, “the city has been a great help in obtaining film permits. They accommodate film companies very well and people are happy to film in San Fernando”. The experience of filming at an actual airport led Captan to recognize a need for a safe, convenient and realistic looking place to film airplane and airport scenes.
Enter Air Hollywood, a film set produced and designed by an experienced filmmaker for fellow filmmakers. The services available include two large airplane sets. One is a wide body jet, which has a first class, business class, and two coach sections. The other is a smaller airplane with a narrow body. Both are constructed with parts from airplanes that are no longer in use and both include restrooms, and overhead compartments from actual airplanes.
Every section of the airplanes, including the sides, is detachable so that filming can occur from every angle and with ease. There is also a spacious glass windowed cockpit which allows large crews to film from inside and outside the area. Other sets include an area resembling an airport terminal which includes a security check point area with x–ray machines, metal detectors, and security props. This area leads to a fully stocked newspaper/magazine stand, a long corridor with signs that resemble those you would normally see in an airport, a waiting gate and even an area resembling the customs check points in real airports.
The large windows that line the corridor have screens behind them that allow filmmakers to superimpose the backdrop of any city in the world. There are also carts to carry your luggage and a small bar which can be converted into a sushi restaurant, a café or any other kind of restaurant. The price for renting the stage area averages about $10,000 a day, which according to Captan is a bargain. Who says “for $10,000 a day you get millions of dollars worth of set, not to mention convenience”.
The price seems to be competitive since Jet Blue, an actual airline, used the studio to film their own airline commercials. Post September 11th security precautions now prohibit filming in airports which has led to an even greater need for secure environments to film in. Captan’s commitment to creating a realistic atmosphere has led to an interesting relationship with one of his consultants, Norm Jones, an American Airlines pilot. “Jones’ job is to make sure all our standards are up to date and current”.
The production offices located throughout the building are all decorated with real airplane seats and an airplane theme prevails throughout. Captan’s office is decorated with a more personal traveling theme. An entire wall is decorated with the used luggage tags, which Captan has collected from over 25 years of travel, “most people throw them away but I keep them as souvenirs”. His, like the many other offices throughout the business, have airplanes hanging from the ceilings, which reflect not only the nature of the business but Captan’s own fascination with airplanes,
“I’ve loved airplanes since I was a kid. Now I feel like I own the best airline in the world”. Captan is currently working to produce yet another film and is planning to open similar businesses based on the Air Hollywood model in other places in the world.” This business model is working and it is safe, so now we have plans to open in New York, London, and Hong Kong. Although there are companies that offer similar services, according to Captan the competition only helps their business, “the competition drives us to do a better job and they make us look better by comparison”.