Should you hire your classic car for film work?

The chance to see your classic car on the big or small screen and get paid for it seems a win win combination. But is it? At Great Escape we supply a lot of cars for film and TV and a lot of owners contact us offering their cars for film work. But when we were looking for cars to use on the recent Celebrity Antiques Road Trip series we hit a snag. Lots of owners refused.
Apparently word had got round that hiring your car for film work is risky. It isn't, but a few enthusiasts had suffered very bad experiences at the hands of one particular company that sources film cars. We know who they are but we aren't naming them. As a result the pool of available classic cars got suddenly much smaller. 
If you are considering making your car available for TV or film work here is our list of do's and don'ts. Generally there are two ways to hire your car - directly with the producers or via a third party intermediary such as http://www.greatescapetvcars.co.uk. Whichever route you are offered, the same rules apply.

1. Do not allow yourself to be flattered - it's great to know your car will be on TV but that should not blind you to the detail of the hire agreement. Be very clear what you have agreed to and how your car will be used. 
2. Ask how the car will be used, what mileage it will cover, how it will be insured and who will drive it. Ask for all of this in writing. Be clear about what you will and will not accept - that will avoid disputes later
3. Agree the condition of the car when it leaves and when it returns. If the hire company don't do this, do it yourself and ask them to sign it. Clearly state who is responsible for any damage and how this will be repaired or paid for
4. Find out how the car will be transported, what vehicle and whether this is sub contracted. Be present when the car is loaded and note how this is done. 
5. Clearly agree the car's return date and any penalties for late return
6. Keep in touch with the hire company and show them you are interested and want to be updated
7. Ask how the company plans to minimise damage, what checks they carry out, how the plan to check, clean and maintain it and how your car will be stored off hire
8. Do not assume that a company connected with film work must be reputable or even very experienced - there are no industry qualification and requirements except the normal legal ones. Anyone can do it and anyone does
9. Find out how repairs and breakdowns will be dealt with. Who pays, will you be notified in advance? Will you be penalised if your car is unreliable?
10. Ask whether the car will be used with props, stickers or have cameras attached - done carefully none pose a risk, done without care they can cause damage

Hiring your car for TV or film work is not inherently risky and it can be lucrative. But minimising the risks and avoiding damage depends on the quality of the company you are dealing with. If you are using an intermediary, which is the most common route, you must take extra care as you are one step removed from the production company. I know from bitter experience that some of these companies are only bothered about revenue. Often they employ temporary, casual staff to collect your car who care little about you and your precious car. Or they sub contract to a transport company that is working to a low price and acts accordingly. You may be treated as a nuisance and fobbed off if you try to complain. Unless you follow our dos and don'ts you may have difficulty achieving redress for damage. 
This article is provided to help classic car owners. But also because unhappy owners make it harder for us to source cars. Providing your car for film work should be easy, lucrative and low risk.
We provided over 40 cars this year for the Celebrity Antiques Road Trip series. Most of the cars were sourced from our fleet, a few were provided by third parties. We transported all of the cars using our own transport and the only people involved were our own trusted staff. We agreed clear terms of use with the production company and stayed with each car to ensure we policed it.  We checked every car every day. There were a few isolated incidents of minor damage and we addressed each one immediately. The production company was unfailingly helpful and we got the cars fixed quickly for each owner, often returning them to better than previous condition. 
We work this way because we have to. Over half of our classic car hire fleet is owned by 3rd parties from whom we lease the cars. They trust us so we have to take a lot of care with the cars they loan to us. We work hard to minimise damage but where it occurs we take responsibility and sort it out. The same applies to our film cars.
If you are thinking about making your car available for TV and film work and would like advice or have any questions feel free to email me at info@greatescapecars.co.uk or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk.






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