Keith Plamondon keeps himself busy making signs for local businesses, screen printing logos onto shirts and hats and making automotive decals.
Last year, however, this small-town small business owner hit the big leagues – and will soon be hitting the big screen – when he brought his small crew along to wrap two massive helicopters in vinyl for two different big-time Hollywood productions.
The call came from Coulson Aviation out of Port Alberni. They had leased one of their Sikorsky helicopters – similar to the kind you see the President of the United States stepping out of – to 21st Century Fox for use in a film. Unfortunately for Coulson – but fortunately for Plamondon and his team at Epic Design Studio – Fox needed a black helicopter, and Coulson didn’t have one. But they could make one.
While calling around for quotes, Coulson found there was a list of 3M Certified vinyl wrap installers, one of which lived right here on Vancouver Island.
“It was a crazy call when it first came in,” Plamondon says. “We were, like, ‘is this really going to happen?’
They just said, ‘We need you to wrap a helicopter,’” he laughs. “We didn’t know what it was for, or why they were doing it.”
Plamondon says Coulson needed an installer who was as close as possible, “because they were under a major time crunch. He called us on a Wednesday, and wanted us to be there that night to get started. And I was, like, ‘What!?’”
But it was an opportunity of a lifetime, so he closed up shop for a few days and talked his crew into working a bit of overtime to come along to get the job done. The first helicopter they did took five days with four staff working 12 hours a day.
“We were blown away when we got down there and saw it. I was, like, this is going to take forever.Have you ever been close to a helicopter? There’s a hell of a lot of rivets on a helicopter.”
Plamondon won’t say what film that job was for. He’s under strict non-disclosure conditions.
The second job they did, however, he can officially talk about. On Dec. 28, when the trailer showing his team’s work in Marvel’s Deadpool was released, the gag order was rescinded.
So why, exactly, are they wrapping helicopters in vinyl to get them the colour they want?
“Well, usually they would just paint these things with studio paint,” Plamondon says, “but what they said was that the issue is the cleanup work afterwards. I can just imagine the hassle of getting all that paint off. With something like this, you just heat it up and start peeling it away. It’s a lot quicker and a lot more economical.”
So what’s next for Plamondon and his team?
Wrapping the latest round of city PRV and traffic boxes with vinyl-printed local art, along with continuing their regular advertising work.
“Yeah, we’re pretty busy these days, I gotta say,” Plamondon laughs. Deadpool is set for release Feb. 12. And watch for another Epic-ally wrapped Sikorsky helicopter hitting the screen in the yet-to-be-disclosed film, which Plamondon will only say “is even bigger,” and is due to come out in May.