IAG Cargo and DHL: Moving Film Productions Around the World 

What does it take to fly production props across the globe for location shoots? Find out how IAG Cargo supports our partner DHL in bringing stories from the sky to the screen. 

For many years, IAG Cargo has worked alongside DHL to help bring alive one of our most loved industries: film. Get the insider track on transporting production props overseas from John Meller, Partner at DHL Entertainment Logistics, and Robert Hoshea, National Account Manager for DHL Global Forwarding at IAG Cargo. 

From some impressive Hollywood pictures that we’ve supported to the turnaround time for Critical shipments (hint: it’s faster than you think) and why DHL continues to choose IAG Cargo, you’ll come away with a whole new appreciation for airfreight’s contributions to the film industry! 

What are some films and TV series you’ve worked on?

John: Name a film and I’ll tell you if we’ve worked on it!

Where have you flown to?

John: The whole world – India, Korea, South Africa, Greece, Spain, Canary Islands, Morocco, Turkey, Norway, Iceland, Canada, the U.S., UAE. My first location was in the British Virgin Islands for six weeks.

What products do you transport?

John: Everything needed to make a film: cameras, equipment for visual and special effects, lighting, and sound, costumes, vehicles. 

IAG Cargo is also involved in shipping rushes, the unedited, raw footage from a day’s shoot. Usually, it’s sent back to the UK to be developed, so the director can look at the digital version and make sure they’re happy. You cannot lose that. If you do, they have to shoot the whole thing again. We need to keep it secure too, ensuring it doesn’t get out to the market. 

A fast cargo service is crucial, and that’s part of the reason DHL has utilised IAG Cargo over the years.

How quickly can IAG Cargo move a product?

Rob: If it’s urgent, within hours. Pinewood Studios is just eight miles from Heathrow and DHL’s main hub in Hayes is only 15 minutes away, so the turnaround is sharp. Our Critical Team is available 24/7.

What’s the difference between IAG Cargo’s Critical and General Cargo?

John: For normal cargo, we need to get it to IAG Cargo four hours before the flight, but with Critical, it’s 90 minutes before. There isn’t a product that’s quicker than that on the market. Using Critical, we’re also able to retrieve cargo faster once it arrives back in the UK. That’s a huge benefit. 

Why is it so important for DHL to have trusted partners such as IAG Cargo? 

John: We cannot miss a flight. The cost of having an entire film unit waiting on location for something that holds up shooting is astronomical. So we need to have confidence in our carriers, and IAG Cargo is able to offer that. 

What’s the shipping process? 

John: DHL will go to one of the film studios near London, load everything onto truck pallets, take it back to our warehouse, screen it for security, and load it onto 125″ x 88″ airline pallets, which we’ll collect from IAG Cargo.  

How far in advance do you need to book?

John: Months. It’s all about planning as early as possible and sticking to that. 

How do you keep the equipment safe?

John: After securing the airline pallets, we’ll wrap them in cargo nets, not touching them again until they arrive at the destination. The least amount of handling, the least chance of anything getting damaged or lost.

How many people are needed to work on a project?

John: It depends. On one of our largest productions we had between 20 and 30 dedicated staff. 

What’s the largest challenge you’ve faced?

John: We once worked on a film in Morocco and much more equipment arrived than we had planned for, and was needed the following day. I thought, what am I going to do? So, I called IAG Cargo, who were quick to allocate space on another aircraft. Having a strong relationship with IAG Cargo helped for sure. 

How has the film industry persevered throughout the pandemic?

John: Covid protection has been paramount, with rigorous testing. 

What do you love most about your job? 

John: It’s vibrant, there’s a challenge every time, and I get to see what’s going on in the film industry. I meet some interesting people and have a chance to guide them, because they’re not shippers: they’re filmmakers hired as shipping coordinators by the production team. It’s nice to give something back. 

Rob: It’s that feeling of helping the customer (DHL Global Forwarding for example), who has an end-user customer, offering them an array of products that we offer here at IAG Cargo. IAG Cargo is the middle person, getting that business on board and moving it from A to B. Airfreight at times can be challenging. But here at IAG Cargo we always find a solution. Fixing various trials and tribulations is a buzz in itself, because every day presents a different challenge.

To find out more about booking cargo space, please visit www.iagcargo.com