They’re beautiful. They’re glamorous. And they’re often spotted in their natural habitat: studio backlots or on location.
No, we’re not talking about movie stars but about something dear to their hearts — those ultra-luxury trailers that function as cushy homes-away-from-home and can double as offices, conference rooms, gyms, day-care centers, and rehearsal spaces.
Keeping stars happy and comfy during a long day’s shoot — or an all-nighter — is big business, and studios and production companies will spend what it takes to maximize productivity.
“A really tricked-out trailer can range from $150,000 up to $400,000,” says Mikel Elliott, co-founder and CEO of Quixote Studios, the West Hollywood-based equipment rental company whose trucks are ubiquitous in the Los Angeles area.
Quixote owns about 100 trailers of all types and sizes, including the top-of-the-line Verde model, which can rent for thousands of dollars per day.
It gets even better: The company is building a personal vehicle for a high-profile actress who didn’t want to be named in this story. “It’s being specifically designed for her particular needs,” says Elliott. “She saw Jennifer Lopez’s trailer and loved it, but she wanted it customized so her kid could have her own room, along with a viewing room for herself. So we incorporated all that.”
The result: A 47-foot, six-wheel, custom-built Verde that the star is buying outright. “I didn’t want to sell it to her,” admits Elliott, “but she really wanted it for the next films she’s doing. She was just here, going over fabrics and colors. If you’re on a set for months at a time, you really need that comfort zone you can escape to.”
Quixote is also supplying the upcoming “Avengers” movies shooting in Atlanta. “We’re working on all the cast members’ trailers,” says Elliott, “including Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.” Other clients range from Snoop Dogg to Ellen DeGeneres (who is “quite particular” about A/C and satellite reception, per Elliott).
Stars tend to be eco-conscious, so many Quixote trailers are low emission, use repurposed materials, and incorporate green features such as Energy Star appliances. “It’s insane how much gear it takes to shoot a film,” says Elliott. “On a set, trucks and trailers are lined up for miles. We felt that anything we could do to lessen the impact by using recycled sets and fabrics is a good thing.”
Now in its 22nd year, Quixote is one of the biggest trailer providers in a competitive business. Elliott and co-founder and president Jordan Kitaen oversee some 240 employees at five locations in Los Angeles, as well as facilities in New York, Georgia, and Louisiana. The company services all aspects of production except cameras.
Elliott, whose father was a grip, met Kitaen at UCLA, then moved to the East Coast to sell computers. When he returned to L.A. nine years later, he fell into the trailer business almost by accident.
“What I really wanted to do was produce,” he recalls, “but my dad had a motor home he was renting out to the studios. I bought one too and did it up, and then another, and it just took off from there.”
Two years after he and Kitaen formed Quixote, it became one of the first companies to feature pop-outs — expandable walls that make the vehicles much more spacious when stationary. But Elliott notes that Quixote had more in mind than just trailers and transportation. “That’s why four years ago we acquired a studio,” he says. “All our producer friends were booking studios, trailers, and equipment, so why not do it all and make it easy for them?”
Coaxed along by California’s more generous tax incentives of the past few years, production has picked up in L.A., which is easily Quixote’s largest market. “There are more movies, more TV shows, and they all need trailers,” Elliott notes.
He says production is also growing in New York and Atlanta (though it has slowed down in New Orleans because of new caps on Louisiana’s tax breaks). As long as Quixote can provide stars with what Elliott calls “that ‘wow’ experience,” he’s confident his trailer business will continue to grow as well.