Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®: Los Angeles, California – Justin Kell is crashing motorcycles for a living.
Justin Kell of Glory Motor Works is living out his dream. Living in Hollywood he has worked with many big films including the most recent Indiana Jones movie, Star Trek, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gangster Squad and the upcoming next installment of the G.I. Joe franchise.
It is his job to loan, repair and build motorcycles that are used in Hollywood movies. On set he has a mobile garage which includes everything you can think of, from spot welding equipment to sheet metal fabricators. “We know the bikes are going to get crashed,” said Kell. “When we build bodywork, we set it up in a manner where we can remove it and change it in less than five minutes for when it crashes — not if it crashes, when! We’ve crashed tons of bikes on set. It’s the nature of what we’re doing. And we can usually get somebody back up and at it immediately, and [the crashes] are usually funny at the end of the day.”
Kell began what has been a lifelong love affair with motorcycles at the age of 8 when he bought a Yamaha dirt bike with his Christmas money. As he grew up, he got very good at fixing vintage bikes, living by his motto of “if you want to keep moving, you figured out what was wrong”. In 1997 he took a trip to LA and while vacationing he managed to get himself a job at an antique shop. He converted this opportunity to his own retail store in 1999, selling old motorcycle helmets, apparel and other antiques. Through brilliant advertisement, hard work and a little luck he caught the eyes of movie producers from around the city, leading to his first movie work and he has never looked back.
For Kell, the love for motorcycles will never die, even if the Hollywood career does. “You have a bad day on a bike, you could be dead; you have a bad day on set, you have a dead career,” he said. “But all the stuff that makes these jobs really hard to do, I like. I like having to think 500 steps ahead of what could happen and be prepared for it. I love the energy of these jobs, the push and the deadlines. I love the stress of it.” The types of stressful challenges he so enjoys while being on set include having to build custom bikes for large actors/stuntmen as he did for the upcoming GI Joe movie and digging up vintage bikes like a 1937 Indian Sport Scout and 1940 Indian police bikes for “Gangsta Squad”.
Living his dream indeed, sounds like every day is a new adventure for Kell and his team. Believing that motorcycles symbolize freedom for the moviegoer and everyday rider plays a big role in his success and his motivation. The next time you see a bike performing some mind blowing stunt on screen, think of Kell and how much fun he probably had pulling it off.
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