Behind The Scenes On Blade Runner 2049: Painting Police Spinners In Budapest

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Behind The Scenes On Blade Runner 2049: Painting Police Spinners In Budapest

The original ‘Bladerunner’ movie has to be experienced at least once in ones life; hands down, one of my all time favourite masterpieces of motion picture history.

I was already thinking of leaving the film industry with a final project that would have a strong emotional tie for me.

Well, the sequel of Bladerunner, namely ‘Bladerunner 2049’ was coming to Pinewood Studios, UK; I just happened to be in the right place at the right time as they say.

It all started when I got the opportunity to work on some of the aesthetics of the ’Police Spinners’; those iconic flying cars  that were stars by their own right in the original.

I got a test piece showing what the car paint job might look like; paint effect was okay, but drab being a dull graphite grey with not much variation or broken effects to enhance the character of the ‘Spinner’. So the mould shop cast a fibre-glass side panel from the Police Spinner mold.

The panel test piece was primed, base-coated with silver acrylic, highly concentrated with metal powder. After, I mixed up a glaze of the silver and just enough black acrylic to deepen the tone. I mixed in a waterproofing agent that I knew bonded extremely well with the glaze. I applied this over the base coat then subtracted glaze here and there to produce worn and paint effects.

Next I produced highlights of silver on the Spinners edges to suggest broken paint revealing the base metal.

Lastly, I made up a classic dirty down glaze/wash. I applied this by spray sporadically; subtracting glaze to reveal the other glazes beneath. This layering creates a depth and tonal range.

In this instance, the Spinner test panel looked pretty authentic; looked like it had received knocks and scrapes whilst it was pursuing vehicles.

The Film Production passed my paint effects design on that sample panel.

There was much work in progress from the Spinner crew. The Spinner body parts began flowing from the mould workshop. Frames were being welded in trellis fashion. The lights; namely L.E.D strip lights were being tested and looked very effective. I noticed an electric motor kit near one of the Spinner frames. I looked forward to seeing the Spinners come to life!

Meanwhile, the pace of Spinner construction was increasing in intensity until the first Police Spinner was complete at Pinewood Studios. I thought the coolest part were the driver and passenger swing up hydraulic doors. The Spinners body line was aggressive looking; intense moody but slim lighting and of course my paint job design and execution seemed to fit the persona of the Vehicle.


I remember the crew posing around the Spinner, for an official photograph; which I have yet to see(anybody have this picture?)

Some days after, I got a call for a meeting with our Boss. I found myself sat a the boardroom table with around six other Spinner crew with a combined work experience in the Film Industry of about 140 years!

It was announced by our Boss we were going to Origo Film Studios, Budapest in Hungary. I admit I was excited, but did not know what was ahead. Maybe none of us did quite realise. Maybe we were thinking of nice Hotels, nice food, drinking cocktails outside bars; you know; doing Tourist things and having a ball.

So we packed all our tools etc into crates for shipping to Budapest. Then it was bye bye UK for a while.

Now in Budapest; we were picked up from various Hotels by minibus and taken to Origo Studios. We settled down there in our workshop. The food situation was strange but I won’t go into that. So the Spinner frames arrived with all our stuff. Seven British Spinner crew faced a pretty hectic challenge. I believe we had to finish seven Spinners in under six weeks including three Police Spinners. I am talking full completed vehicles to be filmed; some were to be submerged in water!

We wondered how we could achieve such a goal; so did the German Special effects crew stationed in the workshop right next door to us!


The seven of us went into a frenzy of work. The days seemingly became longer and slower; almost like time had slowed down to a trickle pace. Then over the next few weeks; the days work extended and extended until some days merged to working all night! We were placed into shifts; the day crew and night crew; there were additional crew that arrived from the UK; but few and with not much experience. Also I should mention there were  several Hungarian assistants ready to help; which they did; but were not working our hours. I think our original seven person crew were working sixteen hour days quite often; even more on other days until we resembled ghosts. Utterly exhausted by the quota of hours and the daunting deadline approaching us rapidly.

I think we became a pretty tight crew at this stage; us ‘against the impossible’ feeling.

Well I guess it was sheer determination and refusal to surrender to the challenge!(British do best when they are up against a wall)

I remember the German crew next door. We felt and knew they doubted we would finish to the deadline.

Well, the six week period was up; we had completed all seven Spinners! A miraculous achievement? Undoubtedly yes! Well we thought so.

I saw ‘K’s Police Spinner roll out of our workshop; I felt a sense of indulgent pride I suppose. I felt for our original crew; which now resembled human wilting flowers. But we were more relieved than exhausted.

The Police Spinners were ready for filming.

Well the Director loved the Spinners; the first Police Spinner was placed on a Film set of reddish sand. Rather interesting sculptures dotted the landscape. Not long after, the cameras rolled.

Looking back, the ‘Spinners’ were not just real working cars; but bonafide objects of art!

This experience I can see in three parts; we arrived, we suffered, we conquered!

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I have worked in the film industry as an artist for the last nineteen years, across several creative departments contracted out by major motion picture studios.

View more articles by Robert Stannage


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