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Published : 28th July 2009
Does anyone remember the CINEMOBILE?
I found some old ASC mags and saw the ads for these 'grip/camera trucks'...what exactly were they?
Were they a combo G&E truck or camera or what?
I never had the fortune to see one in action, but always wondered how they functioned.
They were designed by Faud Said (I may not have the spelling correct). The big one (think Greyhound bus) not only had G&E, but they could also take people (crew/talent) and had a generator on board. Some had a central hydraulic light stand for an arc. They were originally designed for the TV Show "I Spy" where the gear was shipped all over the place.
I think the original truck was an Econoline van.
Director of Photography
>>Does anyone remember the CINEMOBILE?...I never had the fortune to see one in action, but always >>wondered how they functioned.
How are you doing? I worked off a Cinemobile as a 2nd AC/Loader on a feature ages ago. As I understand it (corrections to follow) that type of vehicle was built to work on the streets of NYC. Most gear could be accessed by doors built into the side of the truck. Of course there was rolling stock and a lift gate, but much more access to the side interior of the truck that say a "normal" 5 or 10 ton.
The loading room was a horror. It too was a door on the passenger side of the truck just behind the driver's cab. You had to climb up two steep steps to get to the loading bench. When you closed the door (really just a hatch), you had two black curtains that you pulled one over the other to black out the light leaks from the door/hatch.
OK, so now you are sealed in the 120 degree egg cooker with a few switches in front of you. One was for a darkroom light bulb (switch never worked, bulb was missing), God bless the inventor of the fluorescent lantern. The other was the air conditioner switch. Pretty sweet, huh. Until I realized the air conditioner was nothing more than a 12 volt fan that pulled in the cool air from the cab where the driver stayed all day. Did I mention he was a chain smoker?
By the end of the day, between the sweat and tobacco smoke, I reeked. Van rides back to the hotel were often quite lonely. And one other thing. In the heat (literally) of battle (need to swap stock or a radio call calling me to the set) I would, on occasion leave the 12 volt fan switched to "On" when I fled the darkroom. That had an adverse reaction on the truck's battery, which made it hard to start at night for the trip home. As punishment for this, the driver would block my cool air intake for a couple of days to punish me. Little did he know he was doing my lungs a favor ;~} Ahhhh, sweet memories. Hope you and your Red are doing well. See you on the next big one.
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>>Does anyone remember the CINEMOBILE?
---Apparently a few folks remember it in pictures.
I've also noticed that someone designed an eighteen wheeler truck trailer that expands into a 100 seat airconditioned mobile movie theater which is seeing some use in Northern Ireland and which goes by the name "Cinemobile".
(not quite as rural as Northern Ireland, apparently, but close)
I'm working on a modern day version of Cinemobile if you’re interested in having a look. It’s a Boeing 727 converted to a full on production and post production distant location tool. It'll have a lab as well as a full array of post gear ..i.e. scanner, compositing and vfx bays, grip, electric and camera. The airplane will have a small first class area with full galley and HD viewing, satellite internet and telecommunication. check it out at www.flymothership.com As I recall Cinemobile was very popular at the time. I hope to solve most of the issues involved in mobilizing a major production to remote locations.
I believe that the Gaffer on the first series shot on location (I Spy) with the Cinemobile bus/truck was Rich Aguilar. I was lucky to have worked with him and his fellow workers and learned just about everything one would want to learn about how to handle a light.
I worked with one of the later Austrian bus-chassis based cinemobiles in NY after filmtrucks bought them. Much of the gear was accessible via panels from outside... on-board genny and camera/bfl platform on roof.
All the rage in their day...quite an evolution from the original van-based ones which used an aviation-style alternator to generate ac power using the vehicle's engine, as I believe...
Etienne de Baughdrien in NY used to drive for Bobby Vee when he owned them... he has stories and stories.
LA based but miles away