Propeller Film shot on location in New York with Kevin Spacey for a series of commercials for Poland-based Bank Zachodni. Faced with a tight filming schedule, New York service company MediaCombo Productions had a challenge on its hands securing locations and studio space.
Baltimore wasn’t a practical filming location as it didn’t have the necessary studio space and the local crew pool was in fact largely tied up with House of Cards. The team’s attention turned to a two-day window of opportunity where Spacey would be in New York.
“New York is a busy production centre this fall,” explains Michael Owen, of MediaCombo Productions: “The key art department crew turned over twice because the set decorators and dressers that the US production designer, Jeff Nelson, put on hold took other job opportunities before the production officially confirmed. Similarly, studio space is in demand as well. Episodic shows book studios for months at a time.”
Kevin Spacey was only available for a brief time each day. A company move of more than a few blocks was not an option.
Michael Owen, MediaCombo Productions
New York’s filming incentive programme has turned the city and the state into one of the top production centres in the US and with TV production flooding in as a result, finding a space for smaller shoots is tricky, especially at short notice. Owen and his team eventually managed to find space at Steiner Studios at Brooklyn Naval Yard, which is currently home to shows including gangster period drama Boardwalk Empire and Sex and the City prequel series The Carrie Diaries.
“We had to place order our grip and lighting equipment several days ahead of our pre-light,” Owen explains, “which we found annoying but it was probably because the studio was so busy – every stage was occupied over the week we were there.
“After all the discounts were applied, Steiner Studios is still more expensive than other sound stage options in the city. However, the facility is very impressive both in terms of the physical plant and the attention of staff that maintain it.”
Moving onto location filming proved just as challenging. Spacey was only available briefly at the weekend and this had a massive impact on feasible filming locations for scenes set in a park and in a coffee shop. The New York City Parks Department avoids issuing weekend filming permits, which immediately limited their options, but there was the additional challenge of allowing time to move between locations during the time Spacey was available.
“While cafes are extremely common in New York City, finding one with the appropriate espresso bar ambience in close proximity to an available park is another matter. Kevin Spacey was only available for a brief time each day. A company move of more than a few blocks was not an option,” Owen finishes.
Propeller’s shoot might have qualified for some kind of incentive payment with the necessary paperwork, but the team chose to focus instead on getting the job done as the tax credit actually has little impact on commercial work.
Client: Bank Zachodni WBK
Agency: Red8 Advertising
Strategic Director: Piotr Potorski
Creative Director: Jerzy Przezdziecki
Production Company: Propeller Film, Warsaw
Producer: Jarek Bolinski
Production Service Company: MediaCombo Productions, New York
Producer: Michael Owen
Director of Photography: Sebastian Miłaszewski
Director: Yurek Bogayevitch
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