I’m finally coming up for air after last week’s video filming in Chicago. It was easily one of the greatest weeks of my life filled with amazing and talented people and a creative process that I enjoyed so much, I didn’t want it to end!
Filming in Chicago was a bit of a gamble for me. I’m from Ontario and all of my connections are mostly in Toronto. However, someone recommended David Hunter at Greenroom Productions and I was really impressed with the quality and creativity of his work. He has a background in improv which I thought would lend itself well to the “fun factor” of making an educational video engaging for children.
Once the video company was set, I wasn’t 100% sure where to go next. I know I needed some other creative people….so I emailed the Chicago Puppeteers Guild! They kindly sent a mail out to all of their members. I had nearly a dozen puppeteers express interest in helping out. I brought on Kat Pleviak, Tom Holste and the multi-talented Bob Anderson. Bob was my right hand man with set design and painted all of the beautiful scenery. I referred to him as “Bob the Painter” so not to get confused with Bob Stoffel who built all of the amazing set pieces. He was of course, “Bob the Builder”.
When I arrived in Chicago, I headed to Bob the Builder’s warehouse – which is one of the largest supplier of children’s theatre sets and props. Had I ever come to the right place! I was overjoyed seeing my set pieces for the first time! They were perfect. We made a few cuts where we could have puppets pop through – my favourite being behind the bookcase in the classroom.
On Sunday, it was moving day. Bob S. and I sure got a workout loading up our rented Uhaul truck, then unloading it all at the theatre we rented for filming. It was a long night, but by the end , the set looked great and was ready for action the very next morning.
Monday morning- game time! One by one, the crew started to arrive:
Bob – puppeteer
Kat – puppeteer
David – Producer
Kevin – sound engineer
Rachel – lighting
At that point, I had no clue how much fun we were about to have over the next 3 days.
As the cameras started rolling, we went scene-by-scene, location-by-location. I was just so excited the whole time, I felt good about the filming – always had good energy, but definitely crashed hard at the end of each day. Bob and Kat were amazing – truly impressive puppeteers, but they really blew me away with their voices for the puppets! I actually had 3 puppet voices pre-recorded in the studio, but Kat was so talented, we made a last minute change so she could do them live.
The hardest part for me was memorizing my lines! Although I say these messages nearly every day, the pressure/importance of sticking exactly to the medically approved script made me realize how much I prefer to ad lib! Let’s just say there was not much rest after a long day of filming- just memorizing the next day’s scenes.
The hilarity when the camera was not rolling had me in stitches. Bob and Kat would give the puppets a lot of sass – and let’s just say it was more like Avenue Q at times rather than a children’s DVD! It put me in a great mood – especially if I messed up my lines and received hilarious criticism from Chef Allergie!
We were behind schedule going into the final day of filming, but we all buckled down and finished at 1:06pm – we had the children scheduled to arrive at 1:00pm . Wow that was close! Ending with kids on the set was so fitting! They brought so much fun and energy to several songs. After all, this is who the video is for!! I suddenly felt much more comfortable and in my element. They did an amazing job and were very quick to learn instructions – for dancing, singing and doing special hand gestures (for the “Hand Wash Rap”!). What a fun way to end the shoot!
The kids and their parents left around 4pm and it gave us a chance to go through the scripts in detail to make sure we didn’t miss a thing. Once we filmed a final two lines, David announced, “That’s a wrap!” This was followed by hugs, handshakes and laughs knowing that the last three days were truly an experience we’ll never forget. I think there was a mutual feeling that we all just created something really special.
It was truly a team effort where every single person was an MVP. I couldn’t have done it without them and am so thankful everything came together so well. It made me feel good about my decision to film in Chicago and drive 13 hours from home. I would have travelled much further if it meant I would get to work with this talented team.
Next step: post production and editing. I cannot wait to see the first cut!
Here are some pictures from the filming. Such amazing memories!