5 Questions With... Justin Kell

Glory Motorcycles owner and Hollywood Motorcycles coordinator

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Rafael Tassitano

Q: How do you get hired to coordinate motorcycles for films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or lndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystall Skull?
A: Never say no. Whatever they ask for, just say yes. And it helps to be a great mechanic who works well under pressure. When the location costs $25,000 per day, and there's 500 people in the crew, and the main reason for being there is the motorcycle and it doesn't work-you just cost the production company 50 grand. You've got to be able to fix a bike on the side of the road, with whatever's in your pocket, in minutes.

Q: Do you get some outrageous requests?
A: For Battlestar Galactica they gave us a drawing of a bike without wheels. I said, "We can build that, easy." Back at the shop, reality set in. "Are you nuts? How are we going to do that?" But you just dive in with the cardboard, tape and bondo and make it work. And there's always CGI!

Q: What do you spend on a typical movie-bike build?
A: The budget is whatever it takes. Producers always complain about the budget, no matter what. I could say it's going to cost 10 grand to build a bike from solid gold, and they'd say, "You're crazy, we're not paying that!" But they always find the money.

Q: Producers are generally easy to work with, right?
A: [Laughing] I've done jobs where the producer calls every 20 minutes. But I know a few tricks. If all else fails, I just claim something is unsafe. The fastest way to change a producer's plans, or shut down a movie set, is to claim that something is unsafe.

Q: Any trade secrets to share?
A: Streaks and Tips. It's a spray-on hair color that instantly ages anything. We build these bikes and they look perfect, and the first thing they do on set is age it. They never want the bike to overshadow the star. That's how you can tell I work in the movies-my toolbox is full of weird hairspray products.

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