Sep 19 2014

A Life Aquatic

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There are always certain clients that you make an extra special effort to accommodate, and enjoy working with.  For me, Michael DelPolito, the Creative Producer at StayWell in Yardley, PA is high on that list.  So when Del came to me with the need to pull together a PSA, focusing on Water Safety & Awareness for the American Red Cross, I jumped at the chance to add to our growing list of successful collaborations to date.  After all, I just couldn’t let things remain this woefully outdated!  And while competing production commitments made it impossible for me to travel to Texas, to Field Produce the project, I assured him that Donnybrook could handle all of the prep & coordination logistics nonetheless.

In what’s becoming less of an anomaly, and more the status quo in general of late, the scheduling restraints and demanding location logistics made for an ambitious undertaking.  But by leveraging the well respected Red Cross brand, we were able to secure the complete cooperation of Sea World San Antonio, and maintain the project’s inherently quick turn around.

Sea World was great, and the week long shoot simply would not have come together without their tenacious support.  Equally integral in the project’s success was Entourage Modeling and Talent Agency, where Cindy and her team of casting professionals kept composure while filling all principal and background roles with equal spirit.  Del and I were also happy to enlist MP&E’s services once again, for all essential grippage and grunts…this time, taking advantage of their convenient Austin-based locale.  In the end, Donnybrook managed to help Del keep his head above water…minor sunburn not withstanding.


Aug 8 2014

Golfer’s Delight

I don’t golf.  I never have, and save for a foggy bachelor party recollection, years ago, my endeavors on the green have been solely of the ‘mini’ variety.  So when a regular agency client of mine came to me with a tight deadline, and a creative concept that necessitated marching a full film crew (and half a living room) on to an unsuspecting course, I rated the potential for success as anything but a ‘fore’gone conclusion…ba-dum-chh!  Hey, for what it’s worth, I almost chose that as the title of this post.  Mercifully, cooler (and less corny) heads prevailed.

At any rate, mission critical to a successful undertaking was finding a golf course that would even consider allowing this to take place.  Enter frame right the fine folks at Westwood Golf Club, in South Jersey.  Through a delicate combination of intentionally vague disclosure, and the locations lack of experience hosting film crews, the gig came together better than I’d hoped.  But the clincher was renowned sports network DCPN offering up their ace commentator Wes Heywood for the cause.  He may be a poor man’s Howard Cossel, but he was stroke perfect for our singular needs on this one.  And even though we were summarily shuttled to the club’s 19th hole (yup, count that, 18 plus one), a fairway typically reserved for practice swings and the occasional armchair politician, it all came together in the end.  So if all’s truly well that ends well, then score this one a success…no mulligan necessary.

 


May 5 2014

Grow Up, Already!

While still in high school, I toiled for a short stint as an overnight stocker, courtesy of my local supermarket.  And while it’s not necessarily my pinnacle employment memory, there was something uniquely covert about having the run of a store that was completely off limits to the public.  Well in perfect #TBT, or more appropriately Wednesday in to Thursday, fashion, I recently had a chance to run amok once again during an overnight commercial shoot in the unassuming PA ‘burbs.  The obliging green grocer this time around was the Swarthmore CoOp, and the contemporary corner market proved to be an impeccable backdrop, and an extremely film friendly location.

This episode of Donnybrook After Dark was in support of the ‘Grow Up’ campaign, for non-profit Generation Opportunity.  Teaming once again with longstanding agency ally Jamestown Associates, my crew and I took to the aisles to produce a comedic commentary on the current state of the National Debt…frozen food, veggie, and organic aisles alike.  And Swarthmore’s tasteful and artistic end caps will make for a great place to vfx in a variety of GenOpp’s alarming stats to boot.

While the free-flowing caffeine, graciously sponsored by our hosts, certainly helped with the voluntary insomnia, so did the fact that the shoot ended up being a heck of a lot of fun.  Crew, client, and talent alike were energized for the duration, and by sun up we’d succeeded in capturing ample assets for an entertaining and informative spot.

A super-sized thanks to my good friend Ann Gillette, for yet another miraculous 11th hour casting assist.  May your miracle well never run dry.  And to the perpetual movers and shakers over at Expressway, many thanks for the provisioned grip heads and gear…especially given that it was none other than Philly’s own Starsky & Hutch team of Dave Greenplate & Phil Tartaglione.

 


Apr 25 2014

Run Justin, Run!

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There are certainly less enjoyable, and far less aesthetically pleasing filming locales in the US than Santa Barbara, dubbed by many as the American Riviera.  So when the central Cali-coastal town was selected as the backdrop for Congressional hopeful Justin Fareed‘s intro TV campaign, it was collectively decided to shoot as much of the beachside oasis as possible.

In his ‘Determined’ TV :30, Fareed uses his athleticism to his distinct advantage, offering that the approach to Congressional success will mirror his determination in football and in life.  With Forrest (or Lola, pick your pop-culture poison) induced fervor, the spot features Justin running in, through, and out of town…and then tirelessly running some more.  And it does an admirable job of connecting Fareed to his constituents through a series of waves, head nods, and horsebacked hat tips in the process.

Local fixer Rob DaFoe did a fantastic job of laying the advance groundwork for this geographically expansive undertaking, and Steadicam Op David Shawl captures the fluidity to perfection for Director/DP Steve Perrong.  A huge shout out of gratitude is also due Ray @ Santa Barbara Grip & Lighting, for his tireless efforts and support, as well as the Santa Barbara Film Commission for its graciously offered latitude and assistance.

The spot was voiced by conservative celeb Bruce McGill, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on numerous occasions now.  A gentleman and a scholar, Bruce brings his A-game every time.  And thanks as always to Kevin @ Mai Tai Studios in Burbank, Bruce’s preferred VO partner in crime.

 


Feb 28 2014

Globetrotting 2.0

I was recently brought on board to help production manage a global IPO Roadshow campaign for IMS Health, working in tandem with Exton, PA based production house Paksima Productions.  Executive Producer Jamila Paksima and I have known (of) one another for quite a while, but we’d never actually collaborated directly on a project to point.  It turns out that Jamila is every bit the force of production nature I’d heard about, and the project was a perfect fit for her challenge oriented and thrill-seeking approach to producing.

The assignment called for ENG style field shoots in no less than 5-countries, spread across multiple continents, time zones, and cultures…at times, in simultaneous fashion.  I had a few key production allies in the mix to lean on, with DP Steve Buckwalter and Producer phenom Tracy Schott along for the ride.  I’m better off for knowing Alexa Danner now as well, a seasoned NY production head that I met for the first time on this project.  I was also able to re-enlist the key aesthetic sensibilities of Israeli Cinematographer Alon Grego, whom I’m once again indebted to for his consummate professionalism and versatility.  And it was nice to have an excuse to collaborate with the resourceful fella’s at Prime TV in the UK again, a vendor I was first introduced to while filming on location in London a few years back.

A key takeaway for me in all of this is just how small the planet can feel with technology and ingenuity in the mix.  Partial reliance on integrated communication tools like Skype were vital, as was the ability to think outside of the box with regards to ambitious expectations and timelines.  It’s safe to say that nothing is terribly unorthodox when it comes to 11th hour production travel needs, and it remains true what they say…where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Many lessons learned, and mission accomplished.

A few other critical production peeps that came to my foreign and domestic rescue – Mark Gambol @ MG Pictures, India Film ServicesSabrina Vogel @ Kameramann in Basel, and freelance Producer Linda Epstein in Jerusalem.

 


Nov 30 2013

The Throne of Lies

It’s been one heck of a crazy year, and one which maintained a rather frenetic pace.  As 2013 winds down, I’m looking forward to nothing more than a recuperative stint in a pop-culture induced vegetative state.  OK, maybe with a sprinkle of 2014 strategizing thrown in for good measure.

And no holiday sponsored vegging would ever be complete without a hefty dose of beef, & cheese…and ‘Elf’.  Since released, this instant classic has become a staple in any self-respecting household, and has no doubt carved out a perpetual place on anyone’s ‘Best of’ holiday films list.

Having personally worked with Will Ferrell many years ago, as a (literally and metaphorically) hungry production assistant on the set of SNL, I can attest first hand that the man is a comedic genius.  He might suffer from multiple personality disorder, and sure he wreaks vicarious havoc by keeping the crew in a constant state of hysterics, but the man is a consummate professional…and hands down one of my all time favorites both on screen and off.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to grab a 2-liter of Coke, a bottle of syrup, and unwind with a good ol’ fashioned Buddy the Elf singalong.  Your ‘throne’ awaits, so go elf yourself…make ‘Elf’ your new favorite!

 


Oct 11 2013

‘Wars’…Walkies…WV

In a year that’s witnessed such professional escapades as holing up in a centuries old ‘Church’ to brave the winter, camping out with zero ‘Remorse’ on a vast colonial estate to enjoy the lazy days of summer, and setworking (oh yeah, it’s a thing) with such silver screen sirens as Ashley C. Williams, Lili Bordan, and Katrina Law, deciding on an encore is no easy feat.  But I suppose shipping out to the Potomac-panhandle town of Harpers Ferry, WV is as good a follow-up as any.

That’s where the karmic tides of Donnybrook Productions saw fit to take me for my latest production foray, to UPM the ‘World Wars’ mini-series for History Channel.  So I strapped the ol’ mountain bike to my truck, and in true Clampett-like fashion packed up a few production necessities and joined my friend and Producer colleague Brian David Cange & Co.  In this instance, the aforementioned ‘co’ is represented by PoC Adam Schoon, his trusty sidekick Trish McMiniment, the tireless AD tandem of Hall & McGarry, and Locations phenom John Galloway, all of whom represent long time collaborative partners in crime.

With a story line that spans both WWI & WWII, the production logistics have been challenging.  Jimmys, tanks, troop carriers, and the occasional horse chase sequence with Poncho Villa’s revolutionaries have ensured that the gig remains a whirlwind of production-centric merriment daily.  But being the workaholic type, and a glutton for productionment (I mean punishment), I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.  Being en’trenched’ in work has taken on a whole new meaning…bah duhmm bump!!

A few important shout outs are fully warranted here, since I have found fast allies in both Peacemaker National Training Center and the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles.  And the fine fella’s over at Sunbelt Rentals have been terrific as well.  All in all the project amassed a fantastic crew, and it’s been a lot of fun…and now I’ll have my own war stories to tell for many years to come, I’m sure!


Jun 14 2013

Summer of ‘Remorse’

OK, so to recap the summer thus far, I’ve basically been hanging out on a 100+ acre farm in the middle of Doylestown, PA, from the 18th-Century.  My ‘office’ is a tool shed, that I think was roughly constructed circa 1720, give or take…with WiFi, naturally, though it’s likely that was an add-on along the way.  I’ve got a bunch of coworkers just across the gravel driveway, in a farm house that was once the estate of a colonial governor.  And my good buddy Crenshaw, Production Designer extraordinaire, is just a stone’s throw away (no pun intended) in his barn down the road.  AKA his ‘scenic shop’, of course.  If all of this sounds like I’m suffering from heat exhaustion, fear not!  While it is indeed mighty hot ’round these here parts, I’m actually on board as the UPM for the supernatural indie ‘Remorse’, currently calling the Penrose Estate in Horsham Twp it’s home…away from home.

The thriller, starring femme fatale Katrina Law (of ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Legend of the Seeker’ fame) and leading lady Lili Bordan (from TV’s ‘Battlestar Galactica’), has been snuggly nestled amongst the fields, flowers, and fowl in this perpetual landmark for its month long stint of principal photography.  Director Quinn Saunders, a veteran TV Director, and Film Professor at Cal State, fell in love with the site instantly, and decided it to be the perfect backdrop for this eerie feature film foray.  To be honest, I’m not a super fan of being here once the lights go dark, but would be remiss if I didn’t cop to the fact that the place makes a pretty perfect setting for a spooky movie.  Bring on the spirits…no, not THOSE spirits, the ones for the wrap party 😉

 


Apr 18 2013

Water 4 the Future

I’ve always felt that what I was lucky enough to do for a living was pretty unique, and kinda cool to boot. But recently, while exploring (uhh, I mean scouting of course) a network of tunnels underneath of Central Park in NYC, it really clicked. Since last month, I’ve been teaming once again with Director Josh Mawer and agency client Jamestown Associates to develop a PSA for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The PSA campaign will bring awareness to the ‘Water for the Future’ initiative that the DEP is undertaking, to reinforce the water supply to sections of the outer boroughs in Brooklyn and Queens, and ensure that the City of NY will enjoy fresh tap water for many more generations to come.

The water supply system in NY is one of the most extensive in the world, but with the help of geography (and more than a little gravity), it’s treatment efforts are actually one of the simplest. But they are long standing, and in need of reinforcement, reinvention, and repair. To that end, the DEP is launching the ‘Water For the Future’ campaign, which will help residents understand the efforts that are being undertaken on their behalf.

The project has not only been a chance to collaborate once again with Josh, and JA, but has also led to newfound creative relationships with Erica Palgon Casting, in New York, as well as a plethora of new on screen talent including Jodi Applegate. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed working with my new post production friends at Buttons NY. Nevertheless, the little kid in me has enjoyed the cable car rides to Roosevelt Island and the exploratory efforts of the real ‘underground NY’ most of all. Plus, I’ve always wanted to scale those crazy acorn towers in Greenpoint…mission accomplished!


Jan 1 2013

What About…’Blubs’?

Happy New Year, all!

So with a new year will come a new tradition, and a way to have a little fun at life’s expense. And, if I’m being completely honest, it will serve as a way to make updating this blog feel a little less daunting during those busier times when it’s tougher to make it a priority. After all, I know that the half dozen or so of you out there that stumbled on to this site get antsy when I haven’t updated for a while 😉

At any rate, I’ve always been one to take notice to the little oddities and laughable moments in life, so I thought I’d start to share some of those (woefully random, admittedly) images here. To that end, and to kick off the new year and help wind down the holiday season, here’s one that I stumbled upon while in a mall department store shopping for decorations last month…apparently, this particular store didn’t carry those pesky ‘blubs’! Hmmmmmm…….