Runaway Production is Tough on California, but GhostLight Industries is Tough Enough to Fight Back

Posted on April 13, 2011 by


One of the reasons the number of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan has been significantly reduced in recent months is because of a new addition to the U.S. arsenal.  Behold Oshkosh Defense’s M-ATV, a new vehicle designed for maximum troop protection.

Should you be a producer who wants this incredibly intimidating and impressive vehicle for a film or television project, Film Works has the privilege to introduce you to one of the most active supporters of the campaign: San Fernando’s GhostLight Industries.  GhostLight is the exclusive picture car company for Oshkosh Defense product placement.  Film Works had the privilege of visiting Ghostlight recently and we were blown away by the M-ATV.

But more than that, we were blown away by Ghostlight.  GhostLight’s 20,000 square-foot shop houses a fabrication department which, according to GhostLight’s web site, can “do it all”:

Our Fabrication Department can do it all from outfit a car with custom bolt on tow rigs, or build you a complete car from the a sketch, and our paint shop and graphics department can finish it with a quality and look that is second to none.

Cyril O’Neil, who owns and manages GhostLight, has been a passionate supporter of the Film Works campaign and, like us, is concerned about the effect runaway production is having on the film and television industry in California.  “This is one of the last industries we have left,” said O’Neil.

With a picture car fleet of roughly 350 vehicles, Ghostlight offers a service not easily found in places like Louisiana or Michigan and often ships vehicles to other states to meet production needs.  For 2009’s Public Enemies, for example, Ghostlight shipped 25 period cars to Illinois.  And, while Ghostlight’s ability to service productions that leave the state has helped insulate it from the negative effects of runaway production, business isn’t booming like it was back when most major feature projects still filmed in California.

To give an example of how significant the impact of keeping just one major production in California is for small businesses like GhostLight, O’Neil said that when 2008’s big budget Eagle Eye filmed in Los Angeles, he employed three times the number of mechanics he has on staff now.

“That was because of just one movie,” O’Neil said, adding that close to 40 cars were purchased for the production and the combined sales tax alone could pay the salary of four public school teachers for a year.  The past several years have been hard not just for California teachers, but also for GhostLight’s workforce.  Several years ago, GhostLight employed over 30 people.  As of March 2011, they employ just 14.

Times may be tough, but GhostLight is proving to be tougher.  Some of GhostLight’s current customers include the California-based productions of The Event, Criminal Minds and Parenthood.  In fact, if you notice some Film Works bumper stickers the production vehicles for Parenthood (at the show’s request), they may have been printed and donated by GhostLight.  When it comes to showing support for the campaign in the vehicular sense, however, no one tops GhostLight’s vehicles:

So thanks, GhostLight, for showing us how Film Works in Los Angeles.  To learn more about the work GhostLight does, check the following video from their YouTube channel: