The Helios is a great motorhome. Not only is it energy efficient but it offers a large space for production to work in. The copy machine is great because you can wirelessly print and make color copies and send faxes. The satellite phones came in handy when we realized we didn’t have any cell service on location. We received several compliments throughout the shoot day. Crew walked into the motorhome in awe of such a beautiful space.

" Courtney Witherspoon-Production Coordinator Three One O

We truly enjoyed working from the Helios, the attention to detail to make it an Eco friendly asset to our industry should be commended. The quiet workspace you get when running on the solar power is delightful! Rob was pleasant to be around and always willing to help out. Thank you Rob and King Kong for bringing us the Helios!

" Rochelle Savory-Assistant Production Supervisor

You guys did a phenomenal job with the Helios. And Rob, as always, went above and beyond for us.

" Dan Kae—Assistant Production Supervisor

King Kong has great motorhomes and the best drivers in the business. Working with you guys is always easy and a pleasure.

" Cat Burkley-Portfolio One

…the moho was super nice, everything was great! I will definitely rent it again!!

" Susan Borbely – Prod Coordinator

North Six has been working with King Kong for many years now.  Not only is their customer service unparalleled, but their fleet of motorhomes is always clean, reliable, and exactly what we need to support our photo productions.

" Kyd Kisvarday—Producer, North 6

Rusty, Bruce and the guys at King Kong were a crucial asset to my photoshoot.  They took a lot of stress off of my plate and came through when I needed them, allowing me to focus 100% on the production.  Without a doubt, King Kong is now my go-to for production vehicles and I do not hesitate to recommend them to my colleagues.  And, not only is Rusty the best and most helpful driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with, he is also awesome with a fog machine!

" Brett Spencer-Producer,

I wanted to give Rich another glowing report, He was AMAZING on our shoot. The most helpful driver I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be requesting him on future shoots.

Thanks for everything guys!

" Adrienne Burton – Freelance Prod Coordinator

I just wanted to send you a quick message and let you know how amazing Rich is. I have hired motos from all over and this was by far our best experience. Really nice to work with great people

" Crystal Raymond- Chinese Laundry

The drivers were awesome to be with.  Hard working drivers!!   It really stands out when the drivers jump in to help set up base camp, and tear it down.  Not to mention always having a fresh green tea for me just when I needed it every time.  They really were great and I’d ask for them anytime we get vehicles from you. Thanks!

" Mary Brooks – 3 Star Productions
Thanks again for helping out with our party. The restrooms worked out great and the service was awesome as usual!
" Steve Brazeel

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome customer service. Our driver was friendly and professional. He arrived early and had everything ready to go for us. The motorhome was clean and in perfect shape. Every detail matters on a shoot to help keep everything running smoothly. We love working with King Kong!

" Jamie Williams- That Girl Productions
King Kong has the best equipment & drivers in the biz.
" Tom Baker – gangboss

King Kong… top notch service, incredible drivers, clean, well equipped vehicles, on time—every time! Thanks guys…. you ROCK!!!

" Elaine Lee—Producer 5th and Sunset Los Angeles

Thank you so much for lovely Eko lav — definitely the nicest port-a-potty I’ve ever used!

" Amanda – Producer

You guys are the BEST!

" Marie D’Amore—Production Supervisor, HSI

We’ve used the Helios twice now and have been quite impressed each time.  It has everything production could want AND it’s earth friendly! We will use the Helios on every job in which we need a moho.

" Mario D’Amici—Production Coordinator, Beef Films

Archive for May, 2013

Conservative US shoppers turned off by eco-friendly lightbulbs, study finds

May 22nd, 2013  | 

Conservative US shoppers turned off by eco-friendly lightbulbs, study finds

Consumer research finds conservative shoppers avoid purchasing an item associated with protecting the environment


In 2011 Republicans in Congress fought hard to repeal a law phasing out incandescent bulbs. Photograph: Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Eco-friendly labels on energy-saving bulbs are a turn-off for conservative shoppers, a new study has found.


The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that it could be counterproductive to advertise the environmental benefits of efficient bulbs in the US. This could make it even more difficult for America to adopt energy-saving technologies as a solution to climate change.


Consumers took their ideological beliefs with them when they went shopping, and conservatives switched off when they saw labels reading “protect the environment”, the researchers said.


The study looked at the choices of 210 consumers, about two-thirds of them women. All were briefed on the benefits of compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs over old-fashioned incandescents.


When both bulbs were priced the same, shoppers across the political spectrum were uniformly inclined to choose CFL bulbs over incandescents, even those with environmental labels, the study found.


But when the fluorescent bulb cost more – $1.50 instead of $0.50 for an incandescent – the conservatives who reached for the CFL bulb chose the one without the eco-friendly label.


“The more moderate and conservative participants preferred to bear a long-term financial cost to avoid purchasing an item associated with valuing environmental protections,” the study said.


The findings suggest the extreme political polarisation over environment and climate change had now expanded to energy-savings devices – which were once supported by right and left because of their money-saving potential.


“The research demonstrates how promoting the environment can negatively affect adoption of energy efficiency in the United Statesbecause of the political polarisation surrounding environmental issues,” the researchers said.



Earlier this year Harvard academic Theda Skocpol produced a papertracking how climate change and the environment became a defining issue for conservatives, and for Republican-elected officials.


Conservative activists elevated opposition to the science behind climate change, and to action on climate change, to core beliefs, Skocpol wrote.


There was even a special place for incandescent bulbs. Republicans in Congress two years ago fought hard to repeal a law phasing out incandescent bulbs – even over the objections of manufacturers who had already switched their product lines to the new energy-saving technology.


Republicans at the time cast the battle of the bulb as an issue of liberty. “This is about more than just energy consumption. It is about personal freedom,” said Joe Barton, the Texas Republican behind the effort to keep the outdated bulbs burning.

To tax or not to tax hybrid cars

May 20th, 2013  | 

McLEAN, Va. — John Kraus has a new Toyota Prius V hybrid wagon that he’s very fond of. He’s also got a new Virginia tax on it that he’s none too happy about.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, signed a new law last month that lowers the gas tax for everyone, but slaps a $64-per-year fee on hybrid and electric car owners to help make up for what those drivers aren’t paying at the pump.

“What’s not to like about getting better than 40 miles per gallon of gas?” asks Kraus. “Oh, wait — less revenue for Virginia. Well, excuse us for helping to reduce the nation’s oil dependency.”

Legislation that would levy a fee or tax on greener wheels is now pending in Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Arizona. A similar bill died in committee in Idaho. Washington state added a $100 registration fee in February for owners of all-electric vehicles.

STORY: N.J. looks at electric car fee

To some, it seems like crazy, conflicting policymaking. After all, even President Obama is telling consumers to use less gas and buy hybrid and electric vehicles. But policymakers argue it only makes sense because gas taxes pay for highways — and battery-powered vehicles use the roads, too.

“The good news is they use less gas,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton says of hybrid and electric vehicles. “The bad news is they have the same impact as a regular gasoline-powered car, yet provide little or no money for highway maintenance.”

It’s a conundrum facing state legislatures across the U.S.: How to make up for the decline in gas tax revenue — which is in part due to the increase in sales of hybrid and electric vehicles — without unduly penalizing those who are doing their part for the environment.

Hybrid and electric vehicle sales are expected to increase by about 17% to 550,000 vehicles from 2012 through 2016, according to the automotive forecasting company ALG. But they made up only 3of new vehicle sales last year, so are hardly the only gas tax culprit.

State and federal gas tax revenues are also down because:

• Federal and most state fuel taxes haven’t been increased in years — decades in some cases — so inflation means those dollars have far less purchasing power today.

• Gas taxes are typically a flat per-gallon amount that doesn’t increase as the price of gasoline does.

• People have been driving less since the recession.

• Cars overall are far more fuel-efficient.

Massachusetts State Sen. Richard Moore, a Democrat who sponsored that state’s pending legislation, says he proposed a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles and their chargers, but wants these vehicles to be charged for miles traveled, too.

“We need to encourage purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles like electric and hybrid to help diversify the sources that power our transportation … (and) reduce vehicle emissions for the benefit of the environment,” Moore said in an e-mailed statement.

But a miles-driven tax is needed to pay for road and bridge maintenance, he says.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network believes politics were at work when Virginia added the tax on hybrid and electric vehicles while lowering the gas tax.

“We don’t normally work on transportation, but this was such a strong, clear attack on solutions to climate change that we thought we had to do something,” says Beth Kemler, the group’s Virginia state director.

In Indiana, Republican Rep. Randy Frye had a hybrid/electric vehicle tax amendment removed from a transportation bill so a group of legislators could study the issue this summer and get advice from experts on how the tax should be set.

“We don’t want to overtax or undertax,” says Frye. Hybrid and electric vehicles “do use the roads, so they need to pay their fair share.”

Frye, a fan of compressed natural gas, is pushing for broader availability of CNG while also calling for a gas tax increase on the fuel because it costs so much less than regular gas.

Virginia tried a fairly novel approach to address the issue, which Connaughton says represented a complete overhaul of how the state collects revenue for transportation. And he says it was long overdue.

Most gas taxes are based on vehicle fuel economy when cars averaged about 10 miles per gallon. After calculating that the typical internal combustion-powered car contributes about $100 a year in gas taxes, McDonnell decided to raise the state sales tax from 5% to 5.3%, lower the overall gas tax rate from 17.5 to 10.5 cents a gallon and add the hybrid/electric tax. It was proposed at $100, but lowered to $64.

Kraus, however, questions the Virginia move because he says it’s a “flat tax on investment in energy-efficient technology.”

“Gas taxes do more than just pay for roads,” he says. “Gas taxes also discourage gas consumption, which means less traffic, more use of public transit, and less demand for new roads.”

Connaughton says Virginia had no choice, and soon the rest of the country will have to follow with innovative ways to fund highways. After all, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials projects there will be an average gap of $14.7 billion a year in the money needed by the federal Highway Trust Fund and the money coming into it from 2015 through 2023.

The trust fund, which pays for transit, highway construction and maintenance and safety, gets 89% of its revenue from the federal fuel tax.

“There is obviously the concern this will discourage people from buying these types of vehicles, however the fee is not excessive and it really is the bare minimum to pay for the highways they use,” Connaughton says of Virginia’s fee. “It is a necessary evil.”

Pt40 overlook

May 20th, 2013  | 

Fashion goes the way of food: organic

May 16th, 2013  | 

America’s closets are turning green.


The same environmental sensibilities that have swept the foodie world (farm-to-table, organic produce) are making inroads in the fashion universe as the environmental movement continues its rise and new technology produces refined synthetic and recycled materials.

For example:

• Last month, Saks and Neiman Marcus settled a lawsuit charging they labeled real fur as faux fur to escape disclosing its source (raccoon dogs, in this case) — a ploy that turns marketing on its head: Fake sells better than real?

• At a Last Call by Neiman Marcus in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, stylish faux-leather vegan motorcycle jackets with faux crocodile trim (prominently labeled as such) fill up a rack in the high-end discount store.

• High-heeled vegan pumps by OlsenHaus ($225 retail), made of all-synthetic materials, recently showed up on the online shopping site next to leather platforms by more traditional high-end shoe purveyors such as Calvin Klein and Cole Haan.

Red-carpet endorsements by celebrities don’t hurt: Actress Natalie Portman regularly wears vegan shoes, and designer Stella McCartney has become synonymous with ethical fashion, rejecting fur and leather in her high-priced couture.

“Initially, when green fashion started to make any kind of inroads into the apparel industry, it was headed by activists,” says Sass Brown, acting assistant dean of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s School of Art and Design and an eco-fashion blogger and author ( “Now it’s headed by designers and all tiers of distribution and all taste levels and all price points.”

Green apparel and accessories still make up barely more than 2% of the $200 billion fashion business in the U.S., says Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm. Still, that’s about $5 billion.

“Just a decade ago, it was not even half a billion dollars,” he says. “That’s a huge difference.”

Social consciousness — ethical treatment of animals, protecting natural resources — is a big motivator. But the average consumer would not be putting these clothes on their backs and feet if they didn’t look good. Remember pleather jackets in the ’70s (cringe)?


High-end department stores and boutiques now carry green fashion. Top designers are embracing synthetic and recycled materials.

“When eco-fashion started, the fabrication wasn’t as great,” says Lynette Pone McIntyre,Lucky magazine’s senior market editor. “It felt very burlappy. The quality wasn’t quite there. Over the past 10 years, technology has changed so much. You can’t tell what’s eco-friendly or not.”

Strict labeling laws let the customers know most of the time. And if the clothes look good and are “ethical” in their manufacturing or construction, shoppers want them.

“People are really caring where their clothing is coming from — anyone from 10-, 12-year-olds to 90-year-olds,” McIntyre says. “Just like they care where their food is coming from, their carbon footprint.”

Jose Medina, 22, a political science student at the University of Chicago, agrees.

“It’s an ideology,” he says. “If you disagree with the belief system or what a company represents, it’s less likely you’re going to align yourself with them. … Eco-fashion and sustainability, it’s very easy for people to align with that.”

That’s where technology, designers and large retailers come in. The focus is not just on the materials used but how they’re manufactured: Timberland, the Stratham, N.H., maker of sporty footwear and apparel, has made its largest investment in ecological products and manufacturing processes since the brand was invented 40 years ago, says Chris Pawlus, senior global creative director.

“It’s a brand mission,” he says. “We really look at the idea of sustainable design and sustainable products. The fact that our logo is a tree at first glance is poetic, but it’s connected to social justice and doing the right thing.”

Result: the Earthkeepers collection. Introduced in 2009, it now makes up 75% of all Timberland footwear. The company set an SPG goal: Style, Performance, Green. It worked with vendors and manufacturers to reduce water usage, pushed for the use of recycled plastic bottles (PET or polyethylene terephthalate) bottles in linings, laces, uppers and even faux shearling. Rubber soles are made out of recycled rubber. When cotton is used, it’s organic.



“One of our newest fabrics we call ReCanvas™,” Pawlus says. “It has the look and feel of traditional cotton but is made from recycled PET. Across the board, everyone has had to adapt and renovate, and it’s modern technology that’s allowed them to do these things. It’s not a cost-cutting exercise.”

Once in place, it can save money. Leather scraps destined for the trash pile, for example, are recycled and reused to make more shoes.

“We’re at a point now where aesthetics are not hindered by green materials,” Pawlus says.


Swedish fashion retailer H&M, a hit in the U.S. and 47 other countries for its affordable but hip clothes, has introduced its Conscious Collection. All designs are made out of recycled polyester, hemp, organic cotton, linen and Tencel.

The Conscious Exclusive collectionwill target red-carpet events. It’s already been worn by actresses Amanda Seyfried (a blue tuxedo blazer and short) at a London premiere and Michelle Williams at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards.

Collaboration with designer Stella McCartney in 2007 “opened the eyes of our fashion department,” says Catarina Midby, H&M fashion and sustainability expert. “We started to learn about different materials and how we could change our design process. We learned that the production process of viscose is very chemical-intense.”

Since then, the company’s clout — 2,500 stores worldwide and the world’s biggest buyer of organic cotton — pressured suppliers to produce fabrics that use fewer chemicals and natural resources. The company and other major retailers such as Ikea and Walmart developed an education program for cotton farmers to teach them ways to water crops from the ground up and cut chemicals.

“It’s not all that difficult,” Midby says. “It’s just that it hasn’t been done.”

Polyester is still used. But now it’s recycled polyester.

The company’s social-consciousness campaign now extends to a Garment Collecting Program in 1,500 stores. Customers can drop old clothes in a bin. They’re sorted and some go to charity, others are recycled and turned into new garments and the rest sold as vintage or discarded. Shoppers receive shopping vouchers for their donations.

“I think it’s everything that’s happened in the world in the last 10 years,” Midby says. “Everybody wanted to do their bit and take responsibility. … Not to throw anything away.”

She points to the rising popularity of swapping parties, where clothes are traded rather than thrown away.

“It’s just a natural reaction to how the world looks today,” Midby says.

Brown says: “We clothe ourselves in textiles from the day we’re born to the day we die. … One of the most powerful tools we have is who we choose to spend our money on. That’s voting in its own way.”


Technology has given the movement the economic impetus it needed, but the industry would not have responded so overwhelmingly if designers had not put their aesthetic imprint on eco lines.

“I don’t think producing more ugly clothes is sustainable,” Brown says. “We have enough of them already.”

Retailers know that consumers will buy items first because they look good, and second because they are not harming the environment.

“Style is really what grabs them,” Pawlus says. “Green is a gift with purchase.”

Saving the planet is not the only motivation, of course. But if an eco label can help brands attract new customers and save the planet in the process, it’s a win-win for all.

“This is more than just doing right by the environment,” Cohen says. “Everybody’s got white blouses. Everybody’s got black skirts. … Now I’m playing the environmental-friendly card, and it allows me to stand apart from the others.”

Some eco-friendly materials have been around a long time, he says, but are being marketed in a new way. Polyester is now called microfiber. And faux leather?

“They don’t want to call it pleather, but it is pleather in many cases,” Cohen says.

Bill would assess electric-car mileage fee

May 6th, 2013  | 

TRENTON, N.J. — Drivers who buy an electric car to beat the price of gasoline won’t beat the tax man if one New Jersey lawmaker has his way.

The state senator wants to tax electric cars by the mile to pay for road maintenance. But the proposal has a catch: As it’s written, electric car owners would pay more than if they paid the state’s current set of gas taxes, which total 14.5 cents a gallon.


In the bill, S-2531 proposed by Democratic Sen. James Whelan of Atlantic City, N.J., electric and alternative-fueled vehicles would be charged a fee of 0.00839 cents per mile traveled. The bill would apply to all-electric plug-ins, not hybrids.

“Currently in New Jersey, alternate-fueled and electric vehicles don’t pay a gas tax,” Whelan said. “For 98% of the drivers with gas-powered cars, they pay a 14.5 cent-per-gallon tax to support the upkeep of roads. The guy driving an electric car doesn’t pay anything.”

Whelan said his concern is the future, when electric cars become more commonplace and make up a greater percentage of the vehicles registered. A Whelan staffer said the bill will be amended in May to apply to electric and alternative-fuel cars such as natural gas.

A motorist advocate who did the math said electric car drivers would pay more than drivers of gasoline-fueled cars. Whelan said he believes the charge would be comparable to the gas taxes.

“At 12,000 miles per year, that comes to $100.68,” said Steve Carrallas, state director of the National Motorists Association New Jersey chapter. “I did a calculation for the state’s 10.5 cents-a-gallon gas tax for a car averaging 25 mpg that travels 12,000 miles in a year and that comes to $50.40. Why do they want (electric car drivers) to pay more?”

Using that calculation, drivers who log 25,000 miles a year in an electric- or alternative-fuel vehicle would owe $209.75.

Michael Thwaite of Warren, N.J., who owns a small fleet of electric vehicles including an electric BMW and a high-performance Tesla Roadster, said he has no problem paying his fair share for road maintenance. But Thwaite, who is also president of the New Jersey chapter of the Electric Automobile Association, said he wants a level playing field between gasoline- and electric-fueled vehicles.



“We’ve discussed it, and the consensus is fair is fair. At the end of the day, we’re all car drivers and we still chew up the roads and have a debt to society,” said Thwaite, who commutes about 40 miles to Tinton Falls, N.J., daily in an electric car.

Thwaite pointed out the benefits of electric cars: They leave no oil or fluid leaks and have less brake wear, meaning less dust from brake pads, than their gasoline-powered cousins.

“What I’m left with is a tax on my car, which looks a little punitive and is not going the right way if we’re trying to incentivize people to use electric cars,” he said.

Other states have dealt with the issue by charging flat fees. Virginia charges owners of hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles a $64 annual fee for road maintenance and improvement. Washington state also started charging a $100 fee to owners of all electric vehicles for road maintenance in February, which is paid when the owner renews the vehicle registration.

If Whelan’s bill becomes law, electric car drivers would be saddled with paperwork that includes tracking mileage and reporting it to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

The state then would have to audit motorists and institute fines for late submissions or under reporting of miles.

“It would work similar to income tax where people (who are self-employed) self-report and, occasionally, (the state Department of the) Treasury will do an audit of how many miles you drive,” Whelan said. “We’d hope people would be honest.”



Electric vehicle tax vs. gasoline tax

A New Jersey proposal would charge electric-vehicle owners more for driving than gasoline-powered vehicles. Here is a breakdown of the costs, with electric vehicles being taxed at 0.00839 cents per mile compared with a regular car that gets 25 mpg and pays a 14.5-cents-per-gallon tax.


5,000 $41.95 $29.00 $12.95
12,000 $100.68 $69.60 $31.08
15,000 $125.85 $87.00 $38.85
25,000 $209.75 $145.00 $64.75


Sources: Mileage Based User Fee Alliance and Congressional Research Service study of road financing options