Considerations for Indie Directors to Choosing the Right Picture Car

2023 Considerations for Indie Directors to Choosing the Right Picture Car

The world of filmmaking is a vast and complex tapestry of storytelling, acting, cinematography, and the incorporation of real-life elements to make a movie or television show a masterpiece. One such real-life element, often overlooked, is the picture car. 

What is a Picture Car?

A picture car is any vehicle used for display or filming in motion pictures, television shows, commercials, or other video productions. It’s instrumental in setting the scene, establishing the time period, and furthering the storyline.

Picture cars range from nondescript sedans used as background props to iconic vehicles that have stolen the spotlight and become characters themselves. For instance, the DeLorean DMC-12 from “Back to the Future”, the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond films, and the Batmobile from the “Batman” franchise are prime examples of iconic picture cars.

Selecting the right picture car can be challenging for indie directors due to budget constraints and availability issues. So, how do they go about it? Here are some top considerations:

How Rare is Your Desired Car in Your Region?

It’s critical to consider the rarity of your desired car in your region. A rare classic might be challenging to source and significantly more expensive than a common make and model. The right Hollywood picture car and movie vehicle rental company will help directors determine the best vehicles based on their requirements and budget without compromising on quality

Keep an Open Mind

While a specific car might align with the director’s vision, sometimes it’s crucial to keep an open mind about alternatives. A different car might not only fit the bill but could also enhance the storyline or character development. The best-picture car rental companies can provide expert advice and help brainstorm possible substitutes or even better options.

How Will the Picture Car Be Used?

Will the picture car be driven on the production set, or will it be used as a static prop? This impacts the rental cost and the types of cars you can access. For example, rare cars might be available for display purposes only, with minimal driving time allowed. 

Ensuring Reliability

Ensure that the picture car rental company has a reliable track record of being on time with car pickup, drop-off, and maintenance, primarily if the picture car will be driven extensively on the production set. 

Cleanliness and Condition

What type of condition do you need the car to be in? The best rental companies will ensure the vehicle is cleaned and prepped according to your specifications.

Time Flexibility

Film shoots can often run longer than expected. Ensure that the rental company can accommodate extended hours if necessary.


The transportation aspect of picture car rentals extends beyond just delivering the car to the film set. It involves a detailed and precise process, from the rental company’s lot to the filming location and back. 

The first thing to consider is the drop-off and pick-up logistics. It’s essential to give clear instructions about where and when the car is needed to avoid delays or complications. The company needs to know the exact location, ranging from a busy city street to an isolated desert road or mountaintop. Thus, relay as much information as possible to ensure a smooth delivery.

The mode of transportation is also a crucial consideration. Some vehicles might be too old, valuable, or delicate to be driven over long distances. They may need to be transported in an enclosed trailer to protect them from weather conditions and potential damage. 

Conversely, some picture cars might be robust enough to be driven to the set, saving costs. However, the rental company should ensure the vehicle is thoroughly checked and serviced before transit to prevent any unexpected breakdowns en route.

Post-production, the car will need to be returned to the rental company. It’s crucial to determine whether the company will pick up the car from the set or if you will need to arrange for its return. 

Finally, maintenance is another critical aspect of transportation. Picture cars, especially those used extensively in the film, may need on-site maintenance or repairs. It’s worth checking if the rental company provides such services or if you must arrange for a third-party mechanic.

In conclusion, the transportation of a picture car isn’t merely about moving it from point A to point B. It’s a complex process that requires meticulous planning and coordination to ensure the vehicle arrives in perfect condition, on time, and returns safely post-shoot.

Keeping it in Budget

Establish a budget for your picture car needs. This not only helps to avoid overspending but also assists in managing associated costs. According to the LA Times, speciality vehicles command $550 to $1,000 a day, while nondescript vehicles can earn about $75 a day. Also, remember to factor in costs like insurance, unexpected mechanical problems, damage to the vehicle during production, and fuel.

Choosing the right picture car can significantly enhance your film’s authenticity and visual appeal. By considering these factors and collaborating with experienced picture car rental companies, indie directors can make informed decisions that align with their vision and budget.

Scroll to Top