- The most recognisable plane and airport scenes were almost all filmed in the same place – at Air Hollywood, the LA studio entirely dedicated to filming aviation scenes.
- Air Hollywood founder/CEO Talaat Captan showed us all of the studio’s sets, interiors, and props -which you’ve seen in movies like “Inception,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “Bridesmaids,” as well as TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Office,” and “Twin Peaks: The Return.”
- Air Hollywood uses a powerful airbag system to create realistic turbulence and crash scenes, including the famous sequence in “Lost.”
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Hollywood has always been fascinated with flying.
Uma Thurman: One ticket to Tokyo, please.
Narrator: Planes and airports have been the backdrops of some of the most memorable scenes in movies and TV.
Samuel L. Jackson: I have had it with these motherf—— snakes on this motherf—— plane.
Narrator: But I’ve always wondered, do filmmakers rent an entire plane or build an entire set for each of these movies? It sounds expensive and like a lot of work. As it turns out, there’s a place in Hollywood entirely dedicated to helping filmmakers create scenes both inside and outside of planes. Air Hollywood creates customised aircrafts and airport sets for some of today’s biggest filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to Quentin Tarantino. I visited the studio to see how they make flight scenes, including dramatic plane crashes, feel real. The first thing I got to check out was Air Hollywood’s narrow-body, or single-aisle, aircraft, which is used in scenes to show domestic flights. The studio gets their parts from decommissioned aircrafts, which they take apart and then rebuild into custom sets. They’re able to swap out pretty much every component of these planes to replicate different settings and eras.
Talaat: We can take the windows out. We can take the ceiling out. We can have different chairs. We can have first class.
Narrator: This is their wide-body aircraft, which is used for longer-distance travel scenes. It was the site for one of the funniest moments in “Bridesmaids.”
Kristen Wiig: This should be open ’cause it’s civil rights.
Narrator: Moving a single seat can take up to four hours on a real plane, but here they do it in just two minutes. So they can easily go from these first-class Emirates Airlines suites seen in “Sex and the City 2” to a more low-budget option, like these ones in “It’s Always Sunny.”
Joe: This looks a lot more familiar. Oh yeah, yep, this looks about right. This is great, I can’t go back to regular. I have to fly first class for the rest of my life back here.
Narrator: An even bigger upgrade? This Gulfstream, which is used whenever they need to show a private jet. It’s been featured prominently in shows like “Silicon Valley” and in music videos by artists like The Weeknd
Song: ♪ When I travel ’round the globe. Make a couple mil’ a show ♪
Narrator: and Pitbull
Song: ♪ Oh oh, hold me down ♪ Since the planes are usually sitting inside a parking lot or warehouse, getting that cinematic window view takes some trickery. Sometimes it’s as simple as darkening the lights to make it look like nighttime or using Air Hollywood’s smog machine to create clouds. When a director wants a more fantastical backdrop, they will put green screens over the windows, which will then get replaced digitally. Another challenge is making it look like the plane is actually moving. Camera movements are usually enough to fake the motion of a plane during takeoff or landing. But in order to create real turbulence, you know, the kind that make your teeth rattle? The studio had to build a special airbag system to go underneath their planes. With the help of some powerful compressors, these airbags can be rapidly inflated and deflated to really shake the plane.
Talaat: You really feel it. We can make it lighter, heavier, very extreme.
Narrator: Just how extreme?
Joe: Lost was filmed right here. I love it.
Talaat: When we filmed “Lost,” it was really, really challenging. We had to take the plane apart and green screen and put people getting pulled with wire and strings, all the stunt people.
Narrator: It helps that their studio is equipped with all the tools for creating an in-flight catastrophe.
Talaat: And with the push of a button, we can have all the oxygen masks come down.
Narrator: They have also got programmed sound effects, flashing lights, and a PA announcement system that the pilot can use to deliver some bad news. The only thing Hollywood loves more than a flight crisis is an airport goodbye. All these scenes were filmed at the studio’s airport terminal set, which can be connected to any of the planes via a jetway.
Talaat: This is a real TSA setup, everything works, and the X-ray machine will work.
Narrator: They can reproduce any part of the airport experience from check-in to baggage claim. All the signage and furniture comes from their props and wardrobe department, which includes a huge selection of real airport and airline uniforms from different decades.
Joe: Right now, I’m going to get in this cockpit and do some flying, but before, I gotta dress the part, so.
Talaat: Welcome to Air Hollywood.
Joe: All right.
Talaat: It’s the safest airline in the world.
Narrator: I get to play captain in a vintage flight deck, and not just any flight deck. This is the one scene in the movie “Aeroplane,” a classic ’80s spoof of a plane disaster film.
Joe: Of course I’m serious, and don’t call me Shirley.
Narrator: There’s something so thrilling about being in a cockpit. Even if it’s not going anywhere or the buttons don’t do anything, I can see why there’s so many aviation scenes in movies and TV shows.
Talaat: So there’s just so many stories that happen on the aeroplane. There’s always has something to do with travel.
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