Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Recreating A Plane Interior

Anyone had any experience on recreating a plane interior for cheap - the budget of the whole movie is $750,000 - I’ve seen it done in a studio before with lights on tracks on each side of the windows - but wondered if anyone had any low budget ideas


Matthew Woolf

There is a mock up that rents out for commercials. Don't know where it is found though.

Jim Sofranko

Are you staying in NY to shoot? There is a great sound stage w/ moch plane/cockpit/jetway/terminal - the works here in Burbank. Studio is "Air Hollywood"...

Pretty reasonably priced. May want to look into giving them a call, even if you're staying in NY, they may know.

Jared Hoy
b.b.e. | gaffer
Los Angeles, ca

>Anyone had any experience on recreating a plane interior for cheap

Does it get destroyed? Is there a reason you can't just rent an existing prop?

Tim Sassoon
SFD Vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA

I've worked in an existing airliner that was in for service, while technicians worked outside, we filmed inside. Most seating is easily removed and designed to slide on the floor rails. If you want to save time you could use a skateboard track, my grip constructed a small high hat style base with skate board wheels and the track was scaff on apple boxes.

Blacks outside and one large HMI on a smooth crankovator and instant sun source that would simulate a plane banking. Be sure to get Kino for inside with egg crates. The overhead lockers are never high enough and believe me, the last thing you want to do is melt the vinyl trim on the planes ceiling!

Nick Paton
Director of Photography
High Def./Standard Def./Film
Aaton Xtr Prod owner operator
Brisbane, Australia


> is that cheap?

No. I was involved in some stuff for an airline, and it was all done at night so the aircraft could remain in service. And they own the plane! 9pm call, 5am wrap, and the first flight crew chased us off every day.

If you end up doing this, be aware it's a minor nightmare. If you're using plane power - and there won't be any normal mains - you won't be allowed to run the APU on the plane and the ground crew will keep stealing your ground-power unit (Lights go out; cockpit instruments begin running down the batteries, much administrative flapping) and you'll only be allowed to take the most basic equipment onto the airfield. We did actually get a small petrol generator on, but were later yelled at for it, and I imagine things will be tighter now. If you are parked on a stand there may be limited mains but that's owned by the airport so more admin hell.

I imagine removing seats would require hellishly expensive aircraft-certified engineers.

Avoid, bad, horrible, no, awful, nasty.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit

>thinking about tracking in the inside of the plane - would mean pulling >seats

One can rent sectional airplane interiors. We had a single-sided interior for Spartan last year. IMHO you should look and see what's available, which might include a plane about to be refitted.

Tim Sassoon
SFD Vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


What about emergency training facilities for cabin crews. Last year I had the opportunity to work in such a location in Düsseldorf/Germany. And the interior and exterior where made of original parts. It was indoors and the building contained two cabin segments with cockpits, one with 6 seats in two rows and one with 10 seats in 3 rows.


Benjamin Treplin bvk
Operator / Steadicam


I was the other person that worked with Phil Rhodes on the night shoots on the real 737-700 easyJet aircraft.

I have shot well over 20 times on real aircraft, flight simulators and cabin crew trainer mock ups.

Problems are :

1/ - Insurance airside and on the aircraft, do you want to film in the flight deck? Security not impossible but... (9/11!)

2/ - Power very difficult! Most airliners are 110V as our American friends have ruled the air till last year! Don't know about Airbus.

3/ - Seats can be moved, one charter outfit do pax by day freight by night.

4/ - Simulators I have filmed in are worth millions, very sensitive to temperature so forget a HMI or redhead, I've used cool lights and still had people ask lots of questions.

5/ -   Filming displays are tricky with refresh rates, we tended towards CGI but have had success with the main visuals. Phil Rhodes might know more but when the aircraft turns the main window display seem to change refresh rate??

6/ - I heard about lights outside (HMI's) warping the skin of a DC9 some years back

Now for the good news :

There is a 747 section cabin crew trainer in Burgess hill UK they regularly do filming.(Aviation courses)

There are a few real AD-Hoc charter companies that for a price might do a deal on a "if we need the aircraft at short notice get off"! (Stansted airport)

I know a Fixed based 737-300 flight simulator in Bournemouth UK they might allow filming as not as busy as full flight simulators.

What about the aviation filming studio in Italy, I think they had invested in all of these requirements. (If anyone has any contacts there I would like to get in-touch with them as well.)

Last word of caution the Aviation industry in the UK train and recruit pilots and cabin crew rigorously though the winter to cope with their summer program so Summer can be quieter.

Dave Le May
Cinematographer DP


>when the aircraft turns the main window display seem to change >refresh rate???

Well, it'd be a very odd way to operate, but I guess anything's possible.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit

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