By Valli Herman | February 1, 2021
When most people think of movie trailers, they picture the minute-long previews that compile a filmâ€™s highlights. To Costume Designers, trailers are a home away from home, a 35- to 53-foot mobile office/closet/laundry rooms that is the center of operations throughout a location shoot.
The rental wardrobe trailer industry is dominated by a few large companies, with several smaller operations throughout the country. Though the trailers can be little more than a closet on wheels, todayâ€™s gold standard trailers are models of efficiencyâ€“in storage, energy consumption and traffic flow. Rental agencies regularly poll designers for their input on the latest must-have.
â€œWe are always striving to create the best environments for costumers and other artists to do their best work. Our policy here is to make artists happy,â€ said Jason Waggoner, co-president of Star Waggons, the Sylmar-based rental company. His 800-vehicle fleetâ€“including about 40 wardrobe trailersâ€“are outfitted on site or built to the companyâ€™s specifications. The finishing details can include flooring that combines comfort and rolling-rack durability, LED lights to reduce energy consumption and pullout mirrors.
Feedback from costume designers and supervisors alerted Waggoner to two small upgrades that made big differences in efficiency. “We found out that a closet to store the steamer needed a plug. So we added it,” he said. The company also installed a hook near the trailer’s office to ease the flow of wardrobe items and paperwork.
Costume Designers have other suggestions, too. Ivy Thaide, Assistant Costume Designer on “Pretty Little Liars,” would love to see more electrical outlets in the walls among the hanging racks, along with pull-out mirrors, strong WiFi, cabinets tall enough for multiple steamers and, very important, window tints or shades that block the glass doors.
Christopher Lawrence, Costume Designer for “Ray Donovan,” has a wish list that includes strong WiFi capabilities. “That’s number one these days,” he said. He also appreciates the jockey boxes beneath the carriage that have pullout drawers.
“I absolutely prefer a top-loading washer,” he said, joining a chorus of other designers who prefer them to add pieces mid-load or use the tubs for dyeing.
Gradually, their needs are being met as operators upgrade and replace trailers.
At Rag Van Rentals, founder Edward Marks increased the number of electrical outlets to service phones, printers and more power-hungry equipment. His newest van features Caesarstone countertops and high-end audio-visual equipment.
Keith Fisher, of Transportation Resources, has made trailers winter ready with powerful heaters, insulation and climate control. “You can bring it to Toronto in the winter and still do laundry,” he said.
When your cubicle is a narrow, rolling office, workshop and storage facility, sometimes, it’s the little things that count.
Here’s a sampling of some well-known rental companies.
EL MONTE RV STUDIO DIVISION
6323 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, Calif. 91411
The Van Nuys studio rentals company offers motor homes as well as a 40-foot trailer.
Telephone: (800) 337-2150; (818) 901-7272
Perks: Trailer offers two desk areas, lockable wardrobe cabinets, 100 linear feet of hanging racks, a microwave, sink and laundry area.
LIGHTNIN PRODUCTION RENTALS
2555 University Parkway
Lawrenceville, Ga. 30043
Contact: email@example.com; President Gary Lewis; Service Manager Bob Rock; Rental Coordinator Joanne Richardson.
Telephone: (770) 963-1234
Perks: A 53-foot trailer offers a fold-down sofa, while others feature private work and dressing areas.
RAG VAN RENTALS, INC.
11041 Vanowen St., North Hollywood, Calif. 91605
Founded by former costume designer and Western Costume Company executive Edward “Eddie” Marks, RagVan shares space with the respected costume house, making for one-stop shopping.
Contact: Edward Marks, firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: (818) 508-2109
Perks: Every trailer has a kitchenette. Most are designed with extra-wide aisles and jockey box pullout trays. Newer trailers may offer state-of-the-art stereo systems, a sofa, full-size washer and dryer, stain-resistant countertops, stainless steel cabinets, an adjustable, snap-in railing system and a sink protected by splash guards.
13334 Ralston Ave., Sylmar, Calif. 91342
Founded in 1979 by actor Lyle Waggoner, the transportation rental company may be the only with an IMDB page listing 237 productions that have used its trailers since 1993. Waggoner’s sons, Jason and Beau are co-presidents of the Sylmar-based company, which operates rental facilities in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, N.M. New Orleans, La., Maui, Hawaii, and Atlanta, Ga.
Telephone: (818) 367-5946
Perks: Long experience, large inventory and wide variety of trailer types, including a 38-foot, combination wardrobe and three-station make up trailer and trailers from 35 to 53 feet. Latest features include plugs inside closets for powering steamers; monitors for gauging continuity; safes for valuables.
11901 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 310, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Transportation Resources offers a deep inventory in 48- and 53-foot-long wardrobe trailers, outfitted with capacious linear hanging space. The firm has locations in Los Angeles, Annapolis, Md., Atlanta, Ga., and Philadelphia. Newer trailers have energy-efficient front-loading washers and dryers, built-in television monitors, safes and stainless steel cabinets.
Contact: East Coast rentals and support, Michael Freeman, (678) 343-0730, MichaelFreeman@trllc.net; West Coast rentals and support, Keith Fisher, (310) 463-5906, KeithFisher@trllc.net or Aaron Skalka (310) 463-5905, email@example.com.
Perks: Washer and dryer, slop sink, flat-screen TV, iPod dock, DVD player, refrigerator, microwave and fully adjustable racks. Trailers are insulated and winterized, including climate controlled jockey boxes, holding tanks and hot water.