When shows like Stranger Things need old cars, they turn to Y’allywood Film Cars

Stacy Frasure, Beth Aylward and Jeana Lopeman run Y’allywood Film Cars, which supplies picture cars to films and television productions.

Photograph by Beth Ward

You might not know her name, but you’ve probably seen Beth Aylward’s face in some of your favorite movies and TV shows. Since 1989, the SAG actress has regularly worked as an extra on series such as Seinfeld, Buffy the vampire slayer, and Married with children, and on films like Wayne’s world.

“I find myself on the face all the time on TV,” she says. “It makes me laugh.”

These days, however, you’re just as likely to catch a glimpse of one of Aylward’s classic cars onscreen as Aylward herself. His 1961 Rambler American was featured as a base car in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can, and his white 1969 Valiant is a Netflix mega-bit veteran, Strange things. In fact, it was the Strange things crew that gave its name to the now famous Plymouth.

“I was [on location in East Point]. It was zero in the morning and I was sitting in my car by the side of the road. And in the dark hours I heard [the crew] saying “Can you move Howdy?” “”, Referring to a bumper sticker on the rear of the car.

Howdy can be seen walking around Town Square behind Winona Ryder’s character Joyce in the second episode of season one as she walks into the store to buy a new phone. Fans can catch up with Howdy parked on the street near Joyce’s ex-husband’s house in Episode Four, and throughout the show’s three seasons, in downtown Hawkins scenes and in the Hawkins High School parking lot. More often than not, it’s Aylward, who at 60 is also a precision pilot and founder of the movie car company Y’allywood Film Cars, behind the wheel.

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Y’allywood cars in the parking lot of Hawkins Middle School on the set of Stranger Things

Photograph courtesy of Beth Aylward

“The Starcourt shopping center scene [from season three] was fun, ”Aylward says. “There were about 70 cars on the set, and maybe 90% were ours. And the actors were wonderful. Millie [Bobbie Brown] is the sweetest thing. And I always met Noah [Schnapp]. They are the cutest boys; I just love them. The pool scenes were also super fun.

The parking lot at Gwinnett Place, aka Starcourt Mall, was filled with cars during the filming of the third season of Stranger Things.

Photograph by Myrydd Wells

Aylward took the love of classic cars from his brother. She was working in Los Angeles as an extra for film and television in 2002 when she decided to buy her first classic car: the 1961 American Rambler green convertible.

“The first big thing I did [with that car] has been American dreams, which was a bandstand show, ”says Aylward. There, she chatted with other car owners and drivers on the set, learning about the industry’s needs for classic and era-specific cars. Back then in Los Angeles, she says, bookings for illustrated cars almost always went through extras casting companies – people were booked as “extras with cars” according to Aylward, and union drivers and workers. extras generally received a good rate for the use of their vehicle. – between $ 200 and $ 400 per day.

When she moved to Atlanta in 2005, however, that was a different story. The film industry hadn’t yet fully gotten its way east, and there wasn’t much work to be found. As the industry developed, she bonded with other movie car owners on various productions and learned that many went through extras casting for car calls – and weren’t. reserved for what Aylward considered a reasonable amount. Their “car bumps” were lower than union rates Aylward was used to in LA. in a high speed collision like a stuntman, but it requires experience and training.

“People had no idea here because the industry was still new. Everyone just wanted to be in the movies and were excited to ride their car [screen]”, So that they accept the proposed rate, she said.

A few years ago, Aylward booked one of his cars on the AMC drama Stop and catch fire, which takes place in the 80s and 90s. There she met another car enthusiast, mechanic and vintage car collector, Jeana Lopeman. Lopeman was new to the auto industry and suggested that Alyward start a Facebook group where they and others in the industry could connect and share information about their cars, potential car calls ( some of the movies the cars have appeared on include American manufacturing, Precursor, and Tree) and the rates they were getting.

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Cars sit outside during the filming of Stranger Things.

Photograph courtesy of Beth Aylward

And as a result, says Lopeman, whose 1972 Mercury Cougar convertible was used in Strange thingsscenes from Starcourt Mall and of which the 1989 white Jeep Grand Wagoneer appeared in season two – “we [worked] in groups to improve car prices. The band members fought against each other for better car accidents, per diems and treatment on the set – a sort of informal, improvised union, organizing together and negotiating better rates for all.

“I have a union mindset in me,” says Aylward. “I come with a union mindset, telling people, ‘Your car is valuable. Your car is worthy, and you are worthy.

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Jeana Lopeman with her Mercury Cougar 1972

Photograph by Beth Ward

In February, Y’allywood Film Cars went from a Facebook group to an official LLC. With the help of Lopeman and fellow car collector and expert Stacy Frasure, the female-owned and operated company begins to directly connect film and television crews to the classic cars they need for their productions, without having to the extras do not act as intermediaries. Productions can contact the company through a form on their website, and Aylward begins the process of matching the project with the right car and group driver. While the company is made up only of Aylward, Frasure and Lopeman, the Y’allywood Film Cars group has nearly 200 members, some of whom individually have up to 25 cars.

“We strive to meet the vision of a production for a project,” says Lopeman, who manages social media and online marketing for the company. Y’allywood can provide a TV show or movie with everything from decade-specific classic cars to military vehicles, junk cars to beautifully restored vintage fire trucks, vintage motorhomes and vintage vehicles. rescue. They also have access to boats, planes and motorcycles.

“I loved the idea of ​​an image car company that put drivers, owners and their cars first, not profits,” says Frasure, who grew up working on classic cars with his father. and his grandfather. Frasure worked on film sets as an extra and production assistant before moving on to movie cars. She helps Alyward book cars for productions and works on set with the car drivers. She also recruits new cars and drivers for the group and, like Lopeman, works as a car mechanic on set. Aylward claims Frasure as his personal mechanic, but is quick to sing Lopeman’s praises as a bona fide engine expert. (“This girl can tear a car from head to toe,” she says of Lopeman. “She can take it apart and put it back together.”)

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A 1964 Dodge Dart GT, fitted with a production camera

Photograph courtesy of Stacy Frasure

Y'allywood movie cars

Photograph courtesy of Stacy Frasure

“It’s a predominantly male dominated field,” Lopeman says. “During auto shows, I surprise men when I talk shop with them and know a thing or two about what’s under the hood, or when I go to the parts store, or in old car garages for parts. All of these places are mostly the domain of men.

Lopeman sees Y’allywood Film Cars as an antidote to this, “a change”, she says, “one foot in the door with a step forward for women”.

Alyward sees it as a way to stand up for movie car owners and drivers, and one avenue she can use to start changing the way the auto industry operates as a whole.

“I want that to change so that the cast of extras is no longer in charge of these cars,” she says. “Let the people who drive these cars, put all that work in these cars and love these cars, earn the living they deserve.”

“And,” she said, “I want us to be able to walk in with pride as women, showing that we can do the same as [men] can do.”

Frasure agrees.

“Being a company run by women can make some productions reject us first,” says Frasure, “but we’re here to prove that we can and will do the job. We’re not going anywhere.

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