The audio requirements were very specific. In addition to two mics on Lewis Black, Guilick requested six matching shotgun mics strategically placed around the theatre to capture audience reactions. All eight mics were to be recorded on separate channels in 24 bit/96kHz with dual 8-track recorders providing system redundancy and hardware backup. We chose Sennheiser 416’s for the audience mics and a pair of Sound Devices 8 channel recorders. Thomas Beach engineered the recording.
To insure the video footage would be suitable for any possible future uses (broadcast or theatrical release), we choose a Canon Digital Cinema camera equipped with a 150-600mm lens to give us a waist-up framing from the back of the theatre.
Lewis Black has been hugely popular in Wisconsin since the early ninety’s and both performances were sold out. The producers were happy. The audiences had a great time and so did our crew. As Lewis put it: “It’s an extraordinary state. They’ve embraced me and they’ve embraced Scott Walker”. He had a lot more to say about Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, but we’re not going to go there.
Their question was: Could we provide a crew with the specified camera package for two days of filming at the Wisconsin State Fair beginning that Sunday at 7:00 AM?. Our answer was: “We’ll try”.
38 hours wasn’t a lot of time to pull this off – especially on a Friday evening. Our only option would be to locate an experienced Wisconsin DP who not only owned a FS7, but who was available on such short notice. We reached Milwaukee DP Jon Kline late Friday evening and he was available. Even later that evening we got lucky a second time. One of our go-to Wisconsin sound recordists – Thomas Beach – was also available and willing to get up very early on Sunday morning.
We got lucky (as did Emergent Order). Thanks to the great relationships we’ve developed with crew people in the Midwest, we were able to “take care of the rest” - even with only 38 hrs. notice.
In April, Fresh Coast Production Resources had the opportunity to provide U.S. production management, local crew, equipment, and location support for the Chicago filming of “Smolensk” - a Polish feature film being produced by PICARESQUE Maciej Pawlicki in Warsaw.
Directed by legendary Polish director, Antoni Krauze, the film deals with the conspiracy theories surrounding the April 2010 crash of a Polish government plane in the town of Smolensk in western Russia. All aboard died in the crash including President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other members of Poland’s political and military elite.
Smolensk DOP Michał Pakulski watches as Camera OP Marcin Gąsiorowski films a scene at the Polish Highlanders Alliance. Much of the film was shot hand-held.
The film has sparked considerable controversy inside Poland and around the world for its suggestion that the Russian government was somehow responsible for the crash. We’ve placed a number of interesting links about the film at the bottom of this posting.
Smolensk filming along the Chicago River.
While most of the film is set in Poland, the main character is a journalist who’s investigative reporting leads her to Chicago. And this is where Fresh Coast Production Resources comes in.
Pawel Mantorski, PICARESQUE’S Field Producer in Poland first contacted Fresh Coast in March seeking local production support for the Chicago filming. It was our first experience working with an Eastern European production company, and PICARESQUE’S first time filming in Chicago. It was a “learning experience” for everyone, but ultimately a rewarding one.
1st AD Bartosz Paduch (right) and camera crew wait out the rain on Columbus Dr.
Fresh Coast Production Manager Ralph Pabst went to work lining up the Chicago crew, obtaining the requested camera package and G&E support, and figuring out how to transport the 19 person Polish crew around the city.
Meanwhile, Fresh Coast’s Chicago Location Manager, Brittany Pawlowski went to work obtaining the necessary City of Chicago filming and special parking permits, arranged for catering, and worked out all the other logistical details of shooting a feature film in Chicago. Together Brittany and Ralph scouted for suitable filming locations, and periodically sent photos to the director and DOP in Poland.
Waiting out the rain again on the Norwest side.
G&E crew “making sunshine”
Filming a scene at “Nina’s father’s house”
An even a bigger challenge was obtaining production insurance. It was questionable whether PICARESQUE’s own insurance (through an underwriter in Belgium) would cover the Chicago filming. And finding a U.S. insurance company willing to write a policy to a Polish film company was not easy. With only days remaining before the scheduled filming, Ralph found Patrick Kuhnmuench at Robertson Ryan & Assoc. who came through with a policy from Philadelphia Insurance.
North American Camera in Milwaukee provided a RED Epic-Dragon 5K Ultra HD camera package with a full compliment of Cooke prime lenses and camera support. Tim Moder took responsibility for the gear, and acted as 2nd AC to the Polish camera crew.
Andrew E. Cook, Inc. of Harvard, IL supplied their 3 Ton Grip Truck (or as they like to say “almost a 5 Ton”) packed with an array of ARRI and Mole-Richardson HMI, Tungsten, and LED fixtures plus Kino-Flo’s.
All the audio gear - Sound Devices mixers & multi-track recorders, numerous Lectrosonics Radio Mics and a Denecke Smart Slate - came from Cream City Sound of Burlington, WI.
Problems in obtaining U.S. visas delayed the arrival of the Polish crew, and meant all filming had to be completed in three days! This, combined with Chicago’s unpredictable weather, made for a stressful shoot. But everyone pulled together, and we got it done. Much of the credit goes to the film’s First Assistant Director, Bartosz Paduch, who somehow managed to keep his cool throughout.
But none of it would have been possible without our great Chicago and Milwaukee crew. Many thanks to Tom Beach (audio), Tim Moder (2nd. AC), Andy Cook (Key Grip), Jeremy Christen (BB Electric), Andrew Yuncza (BB Grip), Bill Lindgren (Grip/Genny OP), Joel Labahn (Asst. Location Manager), and PA’s Jose Rivas and Dan DeSalva. And a special thanks to Location Manage Brittany Pawlowski who did an amazing job. (Now if she only spoke Polish).
Check out the following links to articles about the film. We think you’ll find them very interesting.
Director Antoni Krauze (center) with Actors Marek Probosz, Beata Fido, and Maciej Góraj (L-R)
Smolensk actors, crew, and the Fresh Coast team at wrap.
Our task was to film the meeting multi-cam and then rough-cut the footage on-site for review by Glanbia’s head office representative at the meeting. The original Sony XDCAM ISO camera footage along with an Apple ProRes switched master would be overnighted to London. The low-res rough cuts would be uploaded to World Television as reference for their final edit. After our site survey, we learned that we would also need to provide all the stage lighting and audio support for both the video and audience PA.
Steve Pantaleo of SP Video provided the audio & lighting gear, and along with Fresh Coast Producer Ralph Pabst and Technical Director Jake Demoske, made the trip from Milwaukee to Aurora. They were joined by Camera Ops Todd Tue and Jeff Hadick from Fresh Coast’s Chicago office. http://www.film-video-production-crews-chicago-illinois.com
It was a long day (and a very cold load-in) but the Fresh Coast crew pulled it off without a hitch.
Our client, the ARENAS Entertainment Group with offices in LA, Miami, Mexico, and Spain (www.arenasgroup.com) specializes in marketing entertainment products to U.S. Latino audiences. The press event, held at the fittingly spooky looking nightclub Castle Chicago, featured one of the film’s stars Tony Amendola, LA-based Psychic Reader Salvador Gata, and one very creepy-looking doll housed in a glass case.
Our job was to film interviews for Chicago Spanish language media outlets, and hand-off the footage to the various reporters attending. To liven things up a bit, Salvador Gata offered “Psychic Cleanses” to anyone feeling the need for a little on-the-spot Exorcism due to the close proximity of the evil looking Annabelle doll. After witnessing the ritual, which involved spitting and raw eggs, our crew decided to pass.
Immediately prior to the Janesville shoot, MBM’s producer/director team Steven and Lisa Sulkin, along with DP Chip Nusbaum had been filming in Italy and the UK. Since they would arrive in Janesville only one day before filming began, Fresh Coast’s field producer handled all the on-location pre-pro coordination and location scouting.
With the shoot only a few days out, we learned that DP Nusbaum had some very specific gear requests. Bob Donnelley at North American Camera came through for us and was able to assemble an extensive camera package that included two Canon C-300’s, both Canon and Angenieux cinema zoom lenses, and a long list of camera support gear.
Jed Henry at Recon Productions in Madison was able to locate a steadicam rig with the requested wireless audio and video feeds and had it shipped in from Kentucky. Jed also worked the shoot as 2nd camera and steadicam operator.
Blue Moon Lights provided a very robust lighting & grip package that included a full complement of HMI, KinoFlo, and LED fixtures.
But even the best gear means little without the right people behind it, so a big shout out to our 10-person crew whose talents and resourcefulness made this shoot a success.
Audio Recordist Tom Beach, Gaffer Chris Marks, Grip Kenny Somerville, Grip/AC Tim Moder, 2nd Camera Jed Henry, PA/Utility Grip Jake Demoske, Makeup Artist Susin Greenberg, PA Ben Ramsdele, Data Manager Jeff Taylor, and Field Producer Ralph Pabst.
Our thanks to all the Fresh Coast crew and equipment suppliers whose talents and resourcefulness made this shoot a success.
Fresh Coast has shot a lot of assignments for Discovery Channel programs over the years, but for whatever reason, recently the assignments have been coming from producers in the UK. In March we shot an interview in Milwaukee for RAW TV. Ltd of London (http://www.raw.co.uk), and in April we provided production support for another Discover Channel program being produced by BriteSpark Films (http://www.britesparkfilms.com), also based in London.
We can’t discuss the details of either of these jobs because both program are still in development. But I can tell you a little about the BriteSpark job. BriteSpark would be sending their own camera crew from London and needed our help in facilitating what was to be a 7-day shoot at multiple locations in Wisconsin. What they required, to use their term, was a “Fixer”- typically a “local” in a third world country that facilitates the movements of a foreign film crew. I suppose to a London producer, Wisconsin may very well qualify as a third world country.
The first person that came to mind to fill this role of “fixer” was Edward Johns. Technically Ed works for us as a PA, but he’s a lot more than that. He did an amazing job making sure the London crew got the footage they needed, and even delivered them to O’Hare for their flight home. Thanks Ed for the great job.
Another successful project from “across the pond”.
In June, Fresh Coast had the opportunity to help PraeMedica Digital (http://praemedica.com/index.html), a medical marketing company based in Northern Ireland, negotiate the baffling rules of unionized Chicago hotels. Our task was to film physician interviews in a small meeting room at the Chicago Hyatt. Each was to be an on-camera interviewer and two interview subjects – all shot with 3-cameras against green screen.
Early in the conversation, PraeMedica inquired why the hotel was charging them $138.00 per circuit for electrical power. “Is there something special about the electricity in the US? About all we could say was “Welcome to Chicago”. We didn’t even want to bring up the potential of having to pay Teamsters to load-in and load-out our gear. The shoot was on a Saturday so at overtime rates, we could have been looking at as much as $1500.
The only answer was to “keep it simple”. We bought 30ft of Chroma -Green fabric to hang from seamless background stands. We used small cameras (Sony EX-1’s) and low-power KinoFlo Divas and LED fixtures. Still it was a lot of stuff (they also requested a teleprompter.)
We managed to fit all the gear and our 4-person crew into two SUV’s, pulled up to the hotel’s main entrance and generously rewarded two bellmen to haul all the stuff to the room. At the end of the day we generously rewarded two more bellman to get us out of there. Estimated savings to our client - $1400.
The touring groups included the 2013 season winner “Home Free” http://www.homefreevocalband.com/ along with “VoicePlay”, http://thevoiceplay.com/ and The Filharmonic. http://www.thefilharmonic.com/
11:41 pm. Fresh Coast’s reply email:
“We just might be able to pull this off but I will need to speak with you no later than tomorrow morning to discuss the details. Call my cell. 414-405-5850”.
9:00 am - Phone call from the client:
The client initially wanted to shoot all Canon dslrs. Providing 6 dslr camera packages wouldn’t be a problem for us, but we suggested it would be a good idea to have a couple traditional HD video cameras in the mix. After clarifying the client’s expectations, we explained that getting a “real jib” into the Pabst Theater was probably not an option at this late date. We said we would try to convince the theater to let us bring in a smaller 10ft. Intel-A-Jib that would at least give them some dynamic camera moves. We also explained that finding two steadicam rigs and operators on this short notice was iffy.
10:00 am. We put the word out:
Phone calls, texts and emails went out to Fresh Coast’s Milwaukee crew resources with the hope we could somehow line up the needed people and gear on such short notice. The shoot was now only 48 hrs. out!
4:00 pm – We got lucky
OK. So we could only confirm one steadicam & operator (Carl Whitney). But all the crew positions were locked in by late afternoon. Jeff Thomas and Rich Clifford would be shooting Sony XDCAM from the house – hopefully one of them with the jib. Tom Caldardt, along with Carl and his steadicam would be on the stage with their 5D’s. Tim Moder was managing data backstage and shooting pick-up shots with his 5D. Fresh Coast producer Ralph Pabst also did double duty – roaming the house shooting performance and audience B-roll.
9:00 am – Phone call from the client:
Question: Could we get them 4 Crown PCC mics?
Studio Gear came through.
1:00 pm – Site Survey
We met with the theater’s technical director and house manager to finalize camera positions. Turns out both performances were sold out. No place for camera platforms and any hope for even a small jib went out the window. We broke the news to the client.
Thurs. 3/20/14 – Shoot Day
We arrived at the theater; delivered the Crown mics; and finalized camera positions and scheduling with the client. Crew call was noon.
1:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Rehearsals, lighting & sound checks began at 1:30 with the first show at 4:00 pm. Over the next 8 1/2 hours, we filmed two performances, shot some special footage for a music video, and did fan interviews before and after each performance.
11:00 pm – We were done – sort of.
As the Sing-Off Live folks began their strike and load-out, Tim Moder was still off-loading cards and organizing the 350 plus gigs data. Everything was backed up over-night and FedEx’d to the client the next day.
The whole project was a little crazy and last minute. But thanks to our great crew, we made it happen – and “making it happen” is what Fresh Coast is all about.
But as we packed up and patted ourselves on the back for a job well done, the Sing-Off Live performers and crew were getting on their tour busses and hitting the road to Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, Salem, OR , San Francisco, Riverside and Los Angeles. 8 performances. 8 cities. 8 consecutive days. Ahh ....the world of show biz!!