It brings me immense satisfaction to say that we are wrapped on our first episode of Season 2. What a week. The pre-production process for this episode officially began back in February when my co-producers and I met via Google Video Chat. When you are living out in the boondocks of northern Wisconsin, it's hard to make leeway in Chicago during the pre-production phase, and that's why I have Coco Fernandez, Eli Taylor, and Katie Griggs on my team. These three went above and beyond throughout the casting, location scouting, and event planning process.
Even before we officially started filming Episode 201 "Birthday Cake", our producer and director of photography, Dane Ohlrogge, was getting B roll footage as he drove through Minneapolis and Eau Claire. Check out our fancy shmancy car rig in the picture below! This rig has been a total godsend throughout Episode 201, as many of our scenes take place inside of the Vickerson family's car. We put this contraption inside, outside, on the driver's side window, and on the passenger's side window in order to get all the shots on our shot list crossed off. This rig allows us to get driving shots without the camera bouncing around. Setting this baby up and taking it down is no small feat either, but the footage speaks volumes and we can't wait for you to see the final product when we release all of Season 2 later this year.
Our very first day we had the pleasure of filming at Bartz and Bartz Dentistry out in Oak Lawn, IL. Finding an office location was quite the challenge for the first scenes of Episode 201. Luckily our dear friend and talented leading actor, Michael Bartz, got permission from his father and hard core supporter of the show, Dennis, for us to use Dennis' amazing office location. Securing our main location for our first episode was only possible through the wonderful Lynda Shadrake, the actress who plays Kara's mother, Lily, on the show. Lynda and her family live in a gorgeous home out in Oak Park, IL and it was the perfect location to set our first episode as Kara's childhood home. Inside Lynda's home we used the kitchen, her daughter's bedroom, the foyer, the backyard and the front yard. In one of the pictures below you can see Dane, Thomas, and Coco setting up a time lapse shot of the front of Lynda's home. The time lapse took place through dusk by way of the camera taking a photo every 3 minutes to capture the sunset. Super cool!
Finding the right actor to play the part of Kara's brother, Jacob, was quite the journey. We had numerous amazingly talented actors submit their resumes and head shots, but man are we glad we waited until Matthew Garry fell into our lap. Matthew was introduced to us through Amy Rapp, the lovely actress who plays Elsa on the show. The part of Jacob requires an actor to have a thorough understanding of Aspergers and high functioning autism, as well as be able to proficiently play the acoustic guitar. After an in depth conversation with Matthew, we knew he was our guy. Matthew was such a joy to have on set, always a positive spirit no matter what the circumstance, extremely attentive to the script and the character, and his guitar skills are off the map. We are even going to be collaborating with Matthew on some original compositions of his to be used in Episode 201.
Throughout the making of this episode we had the honor of working with multiple businesses in the Chicago and Forest Park areas. One of these fantastic businesses is Silverland Bakery, a wholesale brownie shop who allowed us to come in and shoot for three hours this last week. Chris and Athena, the owners, were extremely accommodating and even let us use a hair net for our actor, Paul, who plays Peter in Season 2. Luckily it was a slow afternoon for Silverland in the storefront area, so we had an extremely smooth film shoot with no hitches. Once we were done we bought 2 dozen heavenly brownies off of them for our Launch Party happening later that day. If you want amazing, made from scratch, melt in your mouth brownies - order from Silverland Bakery right this instant!!
Another amazing business owner we have to give a shout out to is Sharon Matten of Edible Experience. Sharon is a beyond talented baker who is a food blogger as well as makes the most incredible custom cakes. She donated her efforts to Episode 201 and baked two prop sheet cakes for us to use (hence the episode name "Birthday Cake") as well as a Dreamer cake with our own logo on the top. I cannot stress enough how much of a blessing Sharon was to this episode, she saved us so much time and money by donating her amazing talent to the cause and we are forever grateful. So if you ever want some custom kosher baking that is absolutely delicious - call on Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much to our disappointment we had to move our Launch Party from Lynda's gorgeous backyard to inside her home, but we had plenty of wine to go around so our spirits didn't stay down for too long! The party was a total blast and we had a great turn out despite the rain on Thursday evening. It was so awesome to meet more of the supporting cast from this season and get to know them before we start filming their episodes.
The weather was definitely not on our side this week and because of an approaching thunderstorm on Friday afternoon we had to reschedule our biggest shoot to the morning. I have been on many indie film sets throughout my post-grad life, and man, I have never had a more challenging shoot than the one we completed on Friday. Dane, Coco, Thomas, Paul, and myself showed up at 9am in Zion to film, with Matthew arriving soon after at 11am. Seven hours later, after working in direct sunlight, 90 degree heat, excessively sweating, and hoards of ravenous mosquitos we had wrapped our first episode of Season 2. My crew and cast are super heroes, that's the only way I can explain how we got through that shoot day on Friday. I honest to god have moments where I look around and wonder if I'm dreaming and suddenly I'll wake back up in the blaring heat with 3 more hours left to film. Nevertheless, we got through it and are a stronger team because of it!
Thanks for reading our update and staying in touch with us as we film Season 2! Be sure to grab your Season Pass so that you can get all 12 episodes sent to you once they are finished at the end of the year. To learn more about what the Season Pass offers, how it works, and how it supports the show, click here!
THe Dream Team
Read the latest from the cast and crew of the award nominated indie series, THE DREAMERS.