GigRig, a Chicago-based company that boasts one of the largest independent fleets of rentable film production vehicles in the Midwest, moved this month into a former electrical plant on the city’s near west side.
The 18,000 sq.-ft. facility — which used to supply power to Chicago’s elevated train tracks — accommodates a ten-vehicle fleet that includes “everything from production rigs to talent coaches,” explains founder and owner Kevin Footlik. With 14-foot drive-in doors, immense ceilings and easy access to both the city and the Eisenhower Expressway, it also complements the expanding needs of the company, which will celebrate its 15-year anniversary in June.
“I intend to have approximately 2,400 square-feet of extra space that I will rent for production shoots,” he continues.
Footlik founded GigRig in 2002. At the time, he was a full-time Chicago-based location and scouting manager and still photographer. He acted on the suggestion of his friend, Pete Souchuk, who was looking to downsize his own production vehicle rental company at the time.
“Pete was helping me get started when he was tragically killed in a plane crash,” explains Footlik. “I bought two vehicles from the estate. I named them ‘Sam’ and ‘Maxine,’ after my parents.”
The two Recreational Vehicle Trucks (RVTs) he purchased were solid steel Internationals with Detroit Diesel engines. Originally built as mobile classrooms for the city of New York abatement project in the early 90s, “they still have the fire alarm pull that’s the only remnant of the classroom,” says Footlik.
GigRig’s first job was a 12-day affair in Michigan City, IN, for catalog clothing company S & S Active Wear. “We hauled eight racks of wardrobe in the back,” recalls Footlik, who also drove the truck.
Since then, the fleet has grown to include four additional production vehicles, two talent coaches, a mini-rig and a “Monster Rig.”
The production vehicles include space for wardrobe styling and lift gates capable of hoisting up to 1,600-pounds. The talent coaches are “big, beautiful ‘Land Yachts’” that serve as “private hospitality suites for customers.” The “Monster Rig” is a 40-foot custom fifth-wheel trailer with a “souped-up Ford F 550 dually, a 525 horsepower engine and four slide-outs that offer a lot of room to work.”
The fleet has serviced shoots as far away as Quebec City and provided comfort for the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Chance the Rapper and Katy Perry. When not on the road, it will be housed in the same location that will host GigRig’s exceedingly popular annual tribute to the production industry.
“GigRig is known for its customer appreciation party and we should have its biggest one yet soon,” says Footlik. “And I’m in my own building!”