Preview – Independent Studio Services – Hollywood Guns
An Inside Look
Nestled in the hills just 15 miles north of Hollywood, California, is a 150,000-square-foot facility that houses over one-million props that are used in feature films, television shows and commercials, and videogames. Aside from props such as lawn mowers, saddles, and vintage glass bottles, Independent Studio Services (ISS) houses 15,000 working firearms from all eras. From flintlocks to miniguns, this prop house has it all, and then some.
Gregg Bilson, Sr. began ISS from his home in 1977, renting props to the film and television industries. Since then, ISS has grown to become one of Hollywood’s go-to sources for a wide array of props, including firearms and other weapons. Greg Bilson, Jr. now runs this family business, which has expanded to include offices in seven states, including Louisiana, Georgia, and New York.
ISS’s weapons department general manager, Karl Weschta, took us on a tour of the company’s impressive cache of weapons. The guns stored at its Sunland facility are separated into themed rooms with names like Black Powder, Military, Police & FBI, and Old West. What we saw was astonishing: rows upon rows of Glocks, Smith & Wessons, SCARs, SAWs, M4s, M60s, Uzis, AKs, HK MP5s and USPs, M2s, MG42s, Thompson SMGs, and M1 Garands, just to name a few; tens, if not hundreds, of each. There were three miniguns sitting on a shelf in the corner. We also observed Russian-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 40mm M203 grenade launchers hanging on a wall. Accessories included sound suppressors, IR lasers, and hundreds of optics by Aimpoint, C-More, ELCAN, EOTech, and Trijicon. If that doesn’t impress you, how about twin .50 caliber naval deck guns and a recoilless rifle?
We quickly discovered that ISS could outfit a small army for just about any war at any point in history, even looking toward the future. While walking through the rooms, we spotted the antique guns and cannons used in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as well as the futuristic weapons used by the Marines in Avatar. You name the film; ISS has probably supplied the guns, including Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Predators, The Town, Rambo, The Dark Night, Three Kings, the first two Transformers films, and the upcoming The Avengers. The company even sent almost 600 period firearms, along with a team of armorers, to the Icelandic set of Clint Eastwood’s World War II-era Flags of Our Fathers. ISS provides firearms for television dramas such as Hawaii Five-0, CSI, Southland, and Burn Notice. The company also supplied 24, so if you’re a fan of Jack Bauer, you can thank ISS for arming him.
Independent Studio Services
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