Days 2 & 3 on set of a Documentary Production

Day two was once again in the studio, we filmed another full day of interviews. This time we had exceptionally interesting subjects, the brothers that own the Chicago Brauhaus, Harry and Gunter. We also had a historian who looked at Chicago through the lens of bars, and we also had a columnist from the Chicago Tribune.

With the two brothers, we finally got some meat for the documentary, we got their German backgrounds, WWII, moving to America and opening up a restaurant in Lincoln square. Then talked about why they’re closing the Brauhaus instead of keeping it open and whatnot and how Lincoln Square is going from being a very German neighborhood to less than that because no more Germans are coming in anymore and just the culture is changing.

With some of these interviews we had to switch up the chairs and whatnot that we were shooting, and it completely messed everything up and made the whole process take longer than necessary because one chair was much larger than the other and therefore setting everything up again became more difficult than it should have been all because we failed to adhere to the markings that we made for where to place the chairs. We needed the interviews to all look similar and moving even just a little bit is going to change the whole dynamic of how we place these in the film later on.


Day 3 was a whole different beast. This time we were actually in the Brauhas filming. The Brauhaus is an old building but it was made well, for sound purposes. When it comes to filming, it is a very dim, red place and even the better lit places, the lights are such an odd colour that it makes filming and deciding apertures and colour grading difficult.

Today was the first day I was entrusted to help change lenses, and I learned that I place them initially too hard, I twist too much and I thought I was doing things just like my boss. I learned that these $15,000 lenses, aren’t like the ones at my school that easily connect to the Canon or BlackMagic cameras. These lenses use a German glass that is basically the best glass in the world, which is interesting since we’re talking so much about German culture.

We also learned that our main focus, Harry, really likes to perform for the camera and makes most of the things we want to film with him very difficult to get the feel wanted for the film. He’s a very nice man, but we also know that he can be very harsh with his employees and those are some of the things that we’re hoping to get, but since he is so aware of the camera anytime we are in his restaurant, we’re not sure to embrace his performance, or try something else.

We mainly filmed B-Roll today which was very tedious, just filming pictures on the walls, servers, bartenders pouring and whatnot. The other difficult thing about this production is that everyone is so friendly and always wants us to either be eating or drinking. This isn’t a problem for me or my boss, but when it comes to our sound man, he can definitely throw back some drinks and that’s clearly a problem.

Today we also sat down after filming and sat with the director and producer and rewrote our schedule and where we wanted to take this film. We also discussed some logistics for the next two days.

All in all, describing what I’m learning is proving to be more and more difficult because I just have so little to compare this whole process to, but what I do know is that once this whole production moves to Post, and I can get another production in, I’m going to realize the differences and be able to really determine what is good and bad that I’m seeing.


Interning for Production

Today was the real first day of my internship for Tangent Mind, a production company based in Saint Louis. We’re filming a documentary about Chicago Brauhaus, a very famous German Restaurant in Chicago.

This is the first time I’ve ever been on a “professional” production set. I say “professional” because this is a “bare bones” project. Just me and 5 other people on the crew, and I, an intern, replaced an AC. The other people include audio, director, producer, another intern, and a DP.

My main job for the day was to basically watch and learn, and that I did. I noticed many similarities with things I’d been taught about production, as well as many technical things about specific cameras and especially about lighting and DIT work.

This documentary couldn’t be more perfect for something that interests me. Its all about German culture and how that influences Lincoln Square, a very famous neighborhood in Chicago known for its German population that is steadily diminishing.

Today was the first day of shooting and it was a 13 hour day of only interviews. This may sound boring, but hearing people talk about the Chicago Brauhaus and being raised in Chicago as German American’s was exceptionally relatable to me since my Grandma moved to the U.S in the 60’s just like the parents of almost all the interviewee’s. Many of the stories they told of their upbringing was exactly how my own mother describes her upbringing and was exceptionally relatable.

Now we shot these interviews in a studio that was free to us for the day because Jon, my boss, knew some people and they allowed us to use their studio. This came with some setbacks. The studio is literally located mere feet away from train tracks, not to mention its on the Southside, in a less than desirable neighborhood near Garfield Park. This meant that all day we had to deal with sirens, choppers, and trains. From an audio perspective, this sucked, but we were also working on a time crunch and couldn’t afford to stop whenever a loud sound occurred.

I learned that even in studios, there will be problems that you can’t take care of no matter what, and this is also something that Jon advocates that spending lots of money on a slightly better studio pretty much won’t always be worth it, because there will always be problems on a production set to work through.