At JKS we get the opportunity to do a lot of cool things, and one of the coolest is helping make TV commercials and movies seen by millions of people. Here’s something you probably never really thought about – almost everything you see in commercials and movies is a prop, either rented for the production or, in some cases, created just for the production. And when the people who make those commercials and movies in this area need those props, or what they call assets, they often get them from JKS.
We’ve been doing this a long time. Our first job of this kind was a movie called Mr. Destiny, filmed in Winston-Salem in 1989. We handled the props for that movie (and I even had a walk-on part – my feature film debut). Over the years we provided assets for several other movies filmed in the Piedmont triad area, including The Bedroom Window (1987) with Steve Guttenberg; Eddie (1996), a movie with Whoopi Goldberg playing the coach of a men’s basketball team (we provided signs and floor graphics for their game scenes); He’s Got Game (1998), another basketball movie, this one directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington (we provided vinyl graphics for the playing floor in their game scenes as well); and Eyeborgs (2009), a science fiction movie that was filmed in a building we own and rented to the producers.
Undoubtedly the biggest movie we assisted with is Talladega Nights (2006), starring Will Ferrell as NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby. In scenes like this one, this one, and this one, you can see some of the many props we provided for the film – signs, trophies, uniforms, helmets, and of course the race cars themselves.
Real NASCAR race cars cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and race teams aren’t willing to risk having those cars damaged just to film a movie or a TV commercial. So, the production companies come to us, because we can supply authentic-looking NASCAR race cars from the 1970s to the present day. Not only that, our cars actually run. Here’s a little trade secret – a lot of the show cars you see aren’t built to run, just to sit and be photographed. Our cars, however, can get out on the track and do 200 mph just like a real race car. And because we have the capability to wrap the cars, we can re-create any real NASCAR race car or create a fictional one, if that’s what the producers need.
Oh, and we also provide NASCAR-licensed drivers to drive the cars on the track, the street or wherever the scene is set. (Another trade secret – NASCAR drivers are also very valuable, as is their time, and their race teams and sponsors won’t risk them being hurt to film a TV commercial. The drivers are there for the close-ups, but one of our drivers is usually behind the wheel doing any driving you see.) Being able to provide all the props, cars and drivers is why much of our TV commercial work involves NASCAR and its sponsors and affiliates. Here are a couple of our favorites:
NASCAR ON ESPN SPRINT Cup Series Commercial “Generations” – As Jimmie Johnson walks to his car, he passes some of the greatest drivers and cars in NASCAR history. Because we could provide cars from past eras and re-create exactly how they looked, the commercial had an air of realism and authenticity not possible using computer-generated cars and graphics.
Rutledge Wood Explains NASCAR’s Chase – This was filmed at the JKS facility. Since our facility is set up like a race team, with multiple cars on hand, we could replicate the feel of a real race team. We also had the room for the elaborate sets they wanted to build, and the capabilities to create the signs and many of the props they needed.
Working with NASCAR, TV networks, major brands and movie producers to help create these films and commercials is fun and we love doing it. It gives us a chance to stretch our creative legs in a different and exciting way. If you’d like to see more of the commercials we’ve helped create, just visit our YouTube page.