Independent Studio Services
Location: Sunland, CA
For more than 30 years, Independent Studio Services has specialized in prop rental and custom fabrication for film, television, theater, and music videos. Their extensive list of credits includes work on Avatar, 24, Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Dark Knight, The Hangover, and Lost.
- Prop rental
- Custom manufacturing
- Graphic design
- Product placement
- Expendables sales
What to Expect
Gregg Bilson Sr. started renting props from his home under the name of Independent Studio Services in 1977. Today, Gregg Bilson Jr. serves as owner and operator of a family business that has expanded to include seven locations in thriving hotbeds of film and television production. Out of the Bilson home and into a 17-acre, 150,000-square-foot warehouse in Sunland, California, ISS has become one of the largest prop shops in the country. Additional facilities are located in Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Louisiana, New Mexico, and New York.
Prop rental is the foundation of the ISS business, and the shop has an inventory of more than a million items ranging from 17th-century octants to snowboards. ISS Weapons boasts the world’s largest inventory of licensed weapons in the world. Trained staff are available to provide expert technical advice, training for actors, live fire for sound recording, and access to private firing ranges, and to serve as qualified on-set armorers. The weapons division can provide custom blank ammunition and also stocks “non guns”: realistic replicas that use flash loads. Studio Art & Technology is the prop manufacturing and special effects division, divided into subsections by specialty: pre-production support, electronics, mechanics, machine and metal shop, molding, stunts, and a wood shop; additional craft departments that can accommodate requests for painting, sewing, jewelry, leather tooling, and other arts.
Custom graphics and signage are produced by Studio Graphics, the in-house team of graphic designers and printers. This department provides custom products like magazines, food and beverage labels, plane tickets, neon signs, and photos. For the film Rush Hour 2, prop currency with a face value of $1 billion was blown up for a stunt scene on the Las Vegas set, but the explosion failed to incinerate all of the fake bills, and people found the counterfeit cash as far away as Minneapolis. The Secret Service had to step in and confiscate the remaining stash from the prop shop, forbidding the company from printing any further copies of U.S. banknotes.
Product placement and access to a lengthy list of notable consumer goods is handled through ISS Promotions, the entertainment marketing division of the company. This department placed an Olympus camera in George Clooney’s hands in Up in the Air and represents clients such as Smith & Wesson, Margaritaville, Gravity Skateboards, Garmin, and Urban Decay Cosmetics. To fulfill the expanding demand for Independent Studio Services’ expertise, the company employs a permanent staff of inventory and warehouse workers, as well as marketing professionals, graphic designers, mechanical engineers, special effects technicians, painters, sculptors, carpenters, and tradespeople in a dozen other crafts. ISS is a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44 and carries federal and state pyrotechnic licenses.
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