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At MCS Safe-Set we are dedicated to helping you create the safest set possible.
If you have vehicles traveling at high speeds you need to be as proactive as possible when it comes to the safety of everyone and everything on the set. We are there to ensure you get the shot without compromising the safety of the crew and cast.
We are experts in the dynamics of a vehicle that is out of control, or missed it's mark. Either of these situations can result in cast or crew injury and potentially expensive equipment and/or set damage, causing even more expensive overruns or resets.
For the past 30 years we have worked on creating the safest environment possible for camera operators on the Indycar, Formula 1 and IMSA racing series. Working closely with Producers and Directors to ensure they get the shot they want, while still maintaining a safe work place for the guys and girls behind the cameras. Yes, there are barriers and fence surrounding every race track, but the camera operators are working either behind a barrier with the fence removed so as not to impede the shot, or above and sometimes over the fence to get the shot required. We are the people called to help find a safe position for the operator that still gets the shot needed.
Conrad Piccirillo, Director - Speed Channel
"As Director of Circuit Development for CART Martyn was our direct contact regarding camera placement. Martyn always went out of his way to ensure we had the shot we were looking for and to ensure our personnel were safe, but able to do their jobs. Thanks to him we were able to place cameras in positions and get shots that had never before been accomplished. His knowlege of television production made all of our jobs easier, safer and much more productive."
We have taken that knowlege and experience, gained over more than 30 years of racing safety, and applied it to the production world.
Most recently we worked on the Netflix show Hyperdrive…
ICG Magazine – November 2019…
“Hyperdrive had an amazing safety record – not a single incident despite the high potential for serious injury.”
“Hyperdrive will stand out, not only as a large step forward in keeping film crews safe on productions where there is a very high risk for serious injury, but as an example of everyone working toward making the set safer, without having to take anything away from the creative intent of the show.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRE-PRODUCTION
Preparation is paramount. Whether it is a movie, commercial, scripted or unscripted. If the scene involves vehicles traveling at high speeds you have to be ready for when something goes wrong. Being proactive during pre-production greatly reduces the risk to the cast and crew once shooting starts.
In 2016 I was asked to design the courses for the show that ultimately became Hyperdrive. I was involved with the production from the beginning. Including the creative and design process for all the obstacles used on the show, and was tasked with getting the competitors safely from obstacle to obstacle. I was on every location scout and was usually the first person the EP/Showrunner looked at when the question “can we do this here” was asked.
What do we do:
Design, construction and shooting safety consultation for production sets utilizing high speed vehicles. The goal is to create the safest work environment possible for crew and cast. Scripted or unscripted, we work in both worlds.
We are not your typical set safety company. Our specialty is crew and cast safety on sets utilizing vehicles at high speeds. We can provide expertise, personnel and equipment to make sure your needs are addressed to your complete satisfaction.
However, should your circumstances dictate additional support we can handle that. My expertise is the primary driving force behind MCS. But, we have a rolodex that is unparalleled and includes the best and most experienced safety personnel in the business. In addition to having worked in Film, Commercials and on Hyperdrive, our specialists have years of experience evaluating and addressing high speed incidents in F1, Indycar, NASCAR and IMSA. We have paramedics, firefighters, extrication specialists, nurses, physicians and engineers that are experienced in getting it done fast and right. We also have our own custom response trucks that include fire, extrication and medical intervention capabilities.
The next time you are watching a race on TV and there is a crash, you will see the response team arrive on scene and immediately jump into each of their assigned roles...do you know what they are hearing in their headsets, it will be something like... "we are in commercial break, back in 2 minutes, get that car off the track, I am not finishing this race under yellow"...or worse, a few years ago a team of local inexperienced EMT's took so long to get the driver out and the car removed that the network went to a golf tournament scheduled to start after the race was done and they lost the last 10 laps. Get it done right and get it done now!
How do we do that:
We are involved with you in planning the shot. As a resource for the Director, DP, LD, etc., working with everyone involved to ensure your set is as safe as it can possibly be while not compromising the budget, the vision and end result.
By having MCS involved in the planning from the beginning, you will greatly reduce the need for on set fixes to problems that probably should have been foreseen. In other words, we know how to make your set as safe as possible as cost effectively as possible. We are used to production deadlines and budgets and understand that we can sink or swim as a team…
We are experts in what happens when a driver loses control of a car, and where it is going to end up coming to rest. When you are pushing vehicles to their limit you use the best drivers you can find, however, the possibility for something to go wrong is always there. By using our experience, you are planning for if it goes wrong and eliminating as much risk as possible for your cast and crew.
These days safety is paramount. When I started in racing, we used water barrels and hay bales as barriers and injuries were common…we have come a long way to where we are today, where safety is a planned, scientific and procedural practice. Injuries are uncommon these days, as they should be.
My experience with the production of the Indycar, F1 and IMSA racing TV broadcasts, directly relates to the production of a film, television show or commercial. I worked very closely with the production staff of the race broadcasts to ensure they could get the shots they wanted without sacrificing the safety of the crew. The same thing we do for you.
If you understand what the end result has to look like, it is relatively easy to plan camera and crew placement…the trick is not to expose the camera operators to unnecessary risk. And it's not just the camera operators, cameras are expensive and tend to very hard and heavy, meaning that your cast is also being exposed to potential risks if you don't get the equipment located (or protected) so that the director can get the shot, and the risks to cast and crew are reduced or eliminated.
When I was on the Horton Safety Team for Indycar back in the 80's and 90's and later as Director of Circuit Development for the series, we would go to each corner of a track and put a mark on the ground where the cars were going to hit the wall in that corner, so we could locate our rescue resources to be the most effective. That was learned by driving experience and by watching cars spin and lose control at tracks around the world for more than 30 years.
If you know the mark where the car has to be for the shot, you can extrapolate what happens if the driver loses control and where the car will end up. Eliminate stuff to hit if that happens and you are on the way to having the safest set possible.
So, if you have the knowledge when you are in pre-production, by default you are able to plan a safer set with the shots you want, because you planned it from the beginning. Pre-planning also eliminates expensive last-minute fixes on set. It always costs a lot more to fix a problem on set than if you plan everything in advance.
We save you money!
The following excerpt from an article in the IGC magazine is just one example of how we can save the production money. If we had been liaising with the Production Designer and Art Department during pre-production, the problem would have been seen and addressed when the set was being designed, not after it was built...result, tens of thousands of dollars would have been saved!
This is not a criticism of anyone involved with this production, but an example of how, if we are involved during pre-production, we can save you money and keep everyone as safe as possible.
Originally appeared in IGC (International Cinematographers Guild) magazine editorial – The Way Forward (Ford vs. Ferrari), by Ted Elrick
Given the subject matter, safety was uppermost. DGA 1st AD Adam Somner (known for his many films with Steven Spielberg) says the one- to two-mile stretches of rural roads in Georgia had to be monitored by 20 production assistants to prevent wayward residents from wandering on set. Somner also recalls an on-camera wall built for the pit crews to stand behind. “I asked, 'What is this wall made of?' And when they said, 'Wood,' I said: 'What happens if a car, God forbid, comes hurtling down the track, loses it and goes through this wall?' That became a 150,000-dollar studio decision,” Somner recalls. “Instead of a set-built wall of wood, it became a concrete wall that a car could hit at speed and protect those on the other side.”
“We had to put in concrete barriers that were engineered for a one hundred mile-per-hour crash,”….“The foundations went down ten feet and were critical for safety.”
This a great example of how our experience could have saved the production time and money. I am sure the design and production of the wall to protect the pit crews took some time. We are able to review the scene in the planning process and eliminate the need for last minute “150,000-dollar studio decisions.”
Our solution would probably have been to rent concrete barriers (and debris fence panels if necessary) designed and engineered to stop F1 race cars and have them delivered and set up as part of the plan. The Art Department could then dress the barriers to be period correct.
Photos by Daniel McFadden/ Courtesy of Netflix Original Series Hyperdrive
After Hyperdrive wrapped, but before it aired, I started to get calls asking about the shoot and how we managed to make the set so safe given the speeds and crazy things we were asking the drivers to do, especially as none of the competitors were professional racers and nobody had ever done a show like this before...the credit goes to the team at Whalerock; Chris Cowan, Aaron Catling and John Wehage. Along with Patrick McManus, Adam Biggs, Troy Combs, Anthony Bishop, Dave Massey and A.J. Dix at Denver and Delilah. They reached out to me when they first realized this was something completely different…and most importantly they asked questions and listened to the answers, without their dedication to the safety of the show it would not have enviable record it has!
Here are a few testimonials from the Hyperdrive production team:
Aaron Catling, Executive Producer/Showrunner - Hyperdrive
When we set out to make Hyperdrive I knew as a producer that I had to pull together a group of automotive consultants with impeccable skills… people at the top of their game.
No one had pulled off anything like this other than stunt drivers on incredibly controlled sections of road. It took almost a year but we found the people who needed to be in that room, and one of the first, was Martyn Thake.
His record of building tracks in unique locations around the world was second to none, and his thirty years of experience with high speed precision driving made him and MCS the perfect partner for our show.
The logistics, perils and problems of protecting our cast and crew in this bold endeavor never stopped coming for the 2 years it took to make Hyperdrive, and without Martyn and MCS to help find the solutions, our show likely never would of made the light of day.
If you want to move cars fast, point a camera at it and keep everyone safe, than call Martyn and the team at MCS.
Patrick McManus, Director - Hyperdrive
I have known Martyn Thake for over 20 years and have worked with him on premiere racing series and entertainment shows. In 2018, Martyn & I collaborated on the Netflix Series “Hyperdrive”. Hyperdrive was a one of a kind, 10-episode series that featured cars drifting and handling obstacles at high speed. There was a very large crew that required a lot of planning and strategizing on how to make the courses exciting, perilous and safe.
Martyn's past experiences and dedication to safety made the building, paving, testing phase and principal photography, that lasted 21 days, a successful and safe experience for the teams, drivers and crew of over 100 people.
Martyn not only handled the on-track safety but was also involved in all of the planning stages that the show required to be successful and safe. He was the lead on all safety issues that involved the cars, drivers, production team and track. His work was paramount for the whole production to be safe and exciting.
John Wehage, Executive in Charge of Production - Hyperdrive
Hyperdrive set out to change the way the audience views racing as sport. Drivers compete in an arena that had never been seen before because nobody else would dare take on such a challenge.
Our team set out to push the limits of what could be done and it would have never been possible without Martyn Thake and MCS.
Martyn’s experience in the arenas of track design, implementation and safety were paramount to our success on the project. Martyn designed a series of intensely challenging tracks within the confines of a working facility. He and his team had the nail-biting task of protecting the drivers, the crew and the historic property at the original Kodak facility in Rochester, NY.
Martyn is incredible to work with and was helpful in finding creative solutions to the needs of the show; but he is is also no-nonsense. Safety was paramount on set and his rules - once set - were not negotiable. Our safety record was a tribute to his unique and valuable skillset.
Troy Combs, Executive in Charge of Production - Whalerock Industries
I had the pleasure working with Martyn in 2018 on the largest competition car show ever produced — Hyperdrive (Netflix).
We had an immense challenge of designing and building a 120+ acre race track, with state of the art elements and lighting, while trying to maintain a safe and efficient work setting to allow our camera teams to operate for television purposes and establish an infrastructure required to support all the race teams and mechanical needs.
On a daily basis, we had to re-design the track and re-locate barriers. Martyn was integral in the entire operation, guiding both our creative and production teams, and ensuring all safety protocols and procedures were in place with every new track design.
His vast knowledge of auto racing and vendors was crucial in helping us also source our needed track materials and support, and effectively established a highly professional team and emergency extraction system on a grand prix level.
Martyn also helped to manage the budget and timeline for the track build, and kept our show on budget, while juggling the rigorous demands of production and creative. On top of all his professional skills and knowledge, he's truly a pleasure to work with and always has a problem-solving approach and positive attitude.
Any production of large scale or small would greatly benefit from his services and will ultimately be thrilled with the results.
Anthony Bishop, Co-Production Designer-Hyperdrive
When I was first asked to be part of the Hyperdrive team as one of its production designers, and fully embraced the “epic in scale” project we were about to conquer, I had a lot of questions, mostly about safety.
That was the same day I met Martyn Thake sitting at a table across from me at one of our many think tank discussions that went on for a better part of a year before we filmed our show. Martyn became an integral part of how we approached designing the custom tracks that needed branded barriers, lighted directional signs, launch sequence structures, props, and many other scenic related items we designed to both lead the contestants thru our courses but gave Hyperdrive its Identity.
The course was over 120 acres and every inch of that had to have safe branded scenic items that provided framework and backgrounds for camera. My talents are making things look good on camera and something that looks amazing and something that is safe are two different things.
Fused with Martyn's experience of performance vehicles traveling at high speeds and methods of how to keep drivers on a course, I was educated on how these essential scenic and lighting pieces could co-exist with the drivers and they're race machines.
Martyn takes his role on the team very seriously and has many years of experience both in the race world and now in film. Martyn is very much a collaborator and always found a way to help me not have to sacrifice any of the esthetic goals.
MCS and Martyn Thake are your Film, TV show, or Corporate Event solution to a safe and successful production.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us. If you have any questions, or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Martyn Thake, President