Hol­ly­wood en­am­oured with Guyanese-owned li­cense plate com­pany

Stabroek News - - THE SCENE - By Joanna Dhan­raj

US-based Guyanese busi­ness­man Jerome Bulkan has been mak­ing a name for him­self as the CEO of Li­censePlates.TV, a Fort Laud­erdale, Florida-based com­pany. For the past 15 years, the com­pany has been mak­ing cus­tom plates for car col­lec­tors and mu­se­ums and then a tele­phone call led to it man­u­fac­tur­ing au­then­tic-look­ing metal li­cense plate props for film and tele­vi­sion.

Li­censePlates.TV has since sup­plied au­to­mo­tive props to Hol­ly­wood and TV stu­dios for nearly 200 movies and TV shows in­clud­ing – The Fast and The Fu­ri­ous, Dead­pool 1 and 2, Night At The Mu­seum, The A-Team, The Man In The High Cas­tle, 2012, The Fault in Our Stars and Trans­form­ers. It has also pro­vided props for tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials for com­pa­nies such as: Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, BMW, Mini, Audi and Ge­ico In­sur­ance Com­pany.

Jerome grew up in the an­cient county of Ber­bice at Fort Welling­ton then New Am­s­ter­dam and fi­nally at Happy Acres (Mon­trose) be­fore he mi­grated with his fam­ily to the US in April of 1979.

Jerome along with his fa­ther and brother had the idea for an e-com­merce busi­ness long be­fore the busi­ness model was ever pop­u­lar. Their cus­tomers were mainly car col­lec­tors and mu­se­ums but then they real­ized over time that there was a big­ger mar­ket in mu­sic stu­dios and advertising agen­cies. Ac­cord­ing to Jerome, “Peo­ple have an emo­tional at­tach­ment to cus­tom li­cense plates and es­pe­cially like ours be­cause our plates look up­scale and au­then­tic with em­bossed raised let­ters and num­bers us­ing alu­minium.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios dur­ing a search on Google found the com­pany on­line and in 2006 Li­censePlates.TV re­ceived a call from the props divi­sion of the film, Char­lie Wil­son’s War star­ring Tom Hanks and Ju­lia Roberts. The prop mas­ter was sourc­ing a se­lec­tion of au­then­tic look­ing plates from Pak­istan as well as sev­eral sets of replica li­cense plates for US Con­gress­man Char­lie Wil­son on whom the movie was based. Af­ter go­ing through a few pho­to­graphs of the plates that the script re­quired the team at Li­censeplates.TV knew right away that they could pro­vide the per­fect repli­cas of the unique Karachi, Pak­istan and US Con­gress­man’s li­cense plates and they went to work im­me­di­ately. Once the pro­duc­tion on Char­lie Wil­son’s War was com­pleted and the movie screened the stu­dio was im­pressed and word quickly spread in the in­dus­try. That was all it took be­fore their tele­phones were ring­ing off the hook with ev­ery ma­jor Hol­ly­wood stu­dio con­tact­ing them to de­sign and man­u­fac­ture metal li­cense plate props for film and tele­vi­sion. The team of Li­censePlates. TV who had gone to watch the screen­ing beamed with pride when the scenes with their plates hit the screen and the rest is his­tory.

Hol­ly­wood stu­dios al­ready im­pressed with the au­then­tic­ity of their plates had an­other rea­son to be im­pressed and this had to do with their quick or­der process. Jerome noted that real rea­son be­hind this was be­cause of ded­i­ca­tion of his em­ploy­ees and high-tech equip­ment. He fur­ther added that be­cause of the high def­i­ni­tion cam­eras used in movie pro­duc­tions ev­ery tiny de­tail on a set is eas­ily cap­tured which of course led to di­rec­tors and prop masters de­mand­ing au­then­tic made plates in­stead of once com­mon plas­tic, card­board and foam plates. Jerome has built strong re­la­tion­ships with the prop masters who over the years have counted on him for his back­ground and ex­per­tise in this field. He spends time brain­storm­ing and cre­at­ing var­i­ous op­tions if nec­es­sary so as to cre­ate the ab­so­lute best plate for a movie or com­mer­cial. Li­censePlates.TV also spe­cial­izes in re­search and de­vel­op­ment. In fact, they have an ex­ten­sive data­base and li­brary of both hard­copy and dig­i­tal his­tor­i­cal and present-day in­for­ma­tion. This in­cludes ex­am­ples of li­cense plates from all over the world. Their records date back 100 years and in­clude pho­tos, data and lay­outs of hard-tofind as well as ev­ery-day plates. They don’t just pro­vide plates for cars but ex­tend their ser­vices to mo­tor­cy­cles, trail­ers, and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. These plates are on ev­ery­thing from po­lice and emer­gency ve­hi­cles, to diplo­mat plates, to the com­mon cars and trucks used by the gen­eral pub­lic.

Af­ter all these years Li­censePlates.TV is still the pre­ferred man­u­fac­turer to de­sign and man­u­fac­ture li­cense plates for movies with per­fect colours, fonts and lay­outs. The lat­est movie they have worked on is a su­per­nat­u­ral­hor­ror-thriller called Antlers (name may change for the re­lease of the movie) be­ing shot in Bri­tish Columbia, Canada. The movie is set to be re­leased by next fall.

Jerome fur­ther said that not only do they pro­vide plates for movies, but now Net­flix and Ama­zon hire them for their tele­vi­sion se­ries and on­line pro­duc­tions. “We just com­pleted work Sea­son 4 of the Ama­zon Stu­dios se­ries called ‘The Man in the High Cas­tle’,” he said.

The com­pany has a lot of re­sources to ac­com­mo­date all or­ders and a strong team of ex­perts mainly based in the US but also some over­seas.

Jerome men­tioned also that there is room for the com­pany to grow. Their ob­jec­tives are to con­tinue to in­no­vate and adopt new tech­nolo­gies to keep up the de­mands of the in­dus­try. “As con­tent be­comes more im­por­tant in the movie busi­ness as well as in dig­i­tal world, there will be more de­mand for prod­ucts. We want to be able to ac­com­mo­date those or­ders with the lat­est high-tech equip­ment as well as the fastest and most ef­fi­cient pro­cesses,” he said.

The com­pany is ever evolv­ing and con­tin­ues to tar­get new cus­tomers who prefer to have their own per­son­al­ized plates or want to give them as a gift. Jerome cred­its the train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence they re­ceived grow­ing up in Guyana which pro­vided them the nec­es­sary tools and mo­ti­va­tion to cre­ate Li­censePlates.TV.

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