Projects and News from Brooklyn Fire Proof Stages and Studios in Beautiful Bushwick, Brooklyn! Home of the Nut Roaster Stages and the Seltzer Room Studios. Our five sound stages and studios have been used for a multitude of feature films, television shows, music videos, commercials, photo shoots, and multimedia projects.
Take a look at some of the exciting work created right here!
The 2014 Music Issue is now available! Featuring Marcel Dzama in conversation with Will Butler, Arcade Fire in Haiti, an interview with Glenn Branca, Alexandra Molotkow on the micro-genre of memoirs of rock stars’ ex-lovers, an interview with Killer Mike, the Tune-Yards deconstructing themselves, and much more!
Subscribe to the Believer and start with the Music Issue, featuring an exclusive, limited-edition 7-inch by Marcel Dzama and members of Arcade Fire!!
National Geographic’s popular show, “Brain Games,” is airing its 3rd season episodes right now on Monday nights. The episode, “Superstitions,” which premiered last night shot heavy elements on our Stage A.
Rooster New York recently produced a series of spots - “How to Do Everything in the World” - for Vans in our stages. They shot the intro for the series in our Studio 3, and a number of exteriors, etc., here as well. You can see our street, covered in ice, as well as Studio 3 in “How to Fight - When You’re Not a Fighter,” below.
"Growing Up and Other Lies" and the SOHO International Film Festival
This year we were happy to be one of the sponsors of the SOHO International Film Festival. We partnered with them on their official trailer for the fest. There’s only a few days left, so you should check out one of the programs at Village East Cinemas.
The opening night featured the New York Premiere of Growing Up and Other Lies, which shot its stage portions right here at Brooklyn Fire Proof on our Stage A. The film features Adam Brody and Wyatt Cenac, and should be playing all over NYC soon.
We partnered with the wonderful Sibyl Reymundo-Santiago and her team at the SOHO International Film Fest so they could shoot the green screen portions of their official 2014 in our Seltzer Room Studio 2 that’s been screening before every program. From their official press release:
We’ve loved being involved in the festival, and knowing that their kick off film utilized our facilities. It’s been an amazing couple of years for production in NYC and we’ve quite enjoyed working with Sibyl and her team at SOHO and the team from Growing Up and Other Lies.
The new video for Brooke Candy’s “Opulence,” was released a couple of days ago. Directed by Steven Klein and produced by our friend Colin Lewis, the entire video was shot on our Stage A, and throughout our facilities last month. The video’s dense with amazing art direction, costume design, and set pieces. It even quotes Sam Fuller’s “Naked Kiss” to great effect. Check it out:
Made at Brooklyn Fire Proof Stages - An Interview with Rick Gilbert
Beginning in 2008, the great actor and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini began shooting her Sundance commissioned projects “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me” at Brooklyn Fire Proof Stages. Producer Rick Gilbert talked to us about his background in film and TV production, the germination and execution of the Sundance pieces, the recently-wrapped Mario Batali series “Feedback Kitchen,” and the pleasures of working at Brooklyn Fire Proof.
Tell us about your background in film and television.
I went to film school in Toronto at Ryerson University and soon after graduation realized how difficult it was to get films made and gravitated toward the art department. I’ve worked as set decorator, buyer, lead person, art director, and production designer on television series, features, commercials, and in print. I’ve been lucky enough to work with talented directors such as Guy Maddin, Todd Solondz, Isabella Rossellini, visual artist Laurie Simmons, cinematographer Ed Lachman, photographer and filmmaker Steven Sebring, and James Franco.
For the uninitiated, can you describe the role of art directors and production designers in media?
The art director and/or production designer works with the director to bring his vision to life, assessing the visual qualities that help create atmosphere and add design elements that create a visual theme and help give an emotional and psychological depth to the film. They also help in the shot decisions as to which scenes can be on location and which should be a build in studio. It isn’t only creative as you are in charge of running an entire department and need to help create and work within the budget for each particular project.
What projects have you worked on at Brooklyn Fire Proof?
We shot 27 of the 30 “Green Porno” shorts at Brooklyn Fire Proof. The first three were shot in a studio that was way too small and we realized if we ever did more, we’d need a bigger stage. Obviously we did shoot more as the first 3 were so popular. That’s when I discovered Brooklyn Fire Proof. I also did a one day shoot with Guy Maddin in Stage B. It was a short film called “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair.” It was mainly shot in Winnipeg, but he shot one day here with Isabella.
I recently worked at BFP on a very cool series for Dailymotion, with Mario Batali, called “Feedback Kitchen.” It was shot and directed by Steven Sebring and looks amazing. It is not your mother’s cooking show! It is a five part series, with each episode featuring a musician sitting down with Mario to discuss their inspiration, life, and food. The first five episodes feature: The Edge, Patti Smith, Flea, Perry and Ettie Farrel, and Josh Groban. There is cool music, great conversation, and amazing cooking - you feel like you are hanging out in Mario’s loft - you can almost smell the aroma of the food. The show combines two of my favorite things: food and music.
Tell us about the background and creation of “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me.”
"Green Porno" was commissioned by Sundance Channel (now called SundanceTV) for the web, but it took on a life of its own. Isabella wanted to direct something and Sundance was doing "green." She always loved insects and animals and pitched "Green Porno": green sex! I met her through Guy Maddin and of course I jumped at the chance to work with her on these "little" films. She wrote amazing scripts that as I read them, I would have tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks. My wife would say "what are you reading?" I’d reply that the woman who was once named "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" just shat on her own face ("Green Porno: Snail")! Since originally made for the small screen, phones and computers, we decided that graphic imagery would work best, almost like simple comic books. We also decided to make everything out of paper and used three featured colors, framed graphically, and shot beautifully (by Brian Jackson, Sam Levy, and Nicola Benizzi).
Art direction plays such a large role in “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me” that you were also credited as producer. Can you tell me how the creative process on those pieces worked, and how that placed special importance on art and sets?
I actually was the producer and at first production designer on “Green Porno.” Luckily for me, I brought in the amazingly talented Andy Byers to take over the production design on the films as producing took over most of my energy. As art department was my background, I still kept my hand in it. I kind of describe Andy as the dreamer with myself as the realist (or dream wrecker)! He would come up with these amazing ideas and I would burst his bubble and say, “but will that last while Isabella humps it vigorously for 4, 5, or 6 takes?” Or, “we can’t hang Isabella from the grid, let’s put the whale on the floor and turn the camera on it’s side.” But it really was Andy that came up with the amazing paper sculptures, and fantastic and complicated costumes. He did the music for the films as well! We make a good team!
While art department plays a big role in the films, it truly was a great collaboration with great scripts, great direction (by Isabella and Jody Shapiro), Isabella’s amazing acting and comic timing, fantastic lighting, excellent sound recording and mixing, and creative cinematography. I think the thing I learned about producing, as this was my first stab at it, is to surround yourself with amazingly talented people and you can’t go wrong.
Where have “Green Porno” and “Seduce Me” played, and what’s the reaction been like over the years?
"Green Porno," while made for the web, as I said earlier, took on a life of its own. Of course it was on the web as designed, but also screened on Sundance Channel, played at festivals worldwide, including: Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, Berlin, Sydney, Pusan, and many more. The shorts also screened at the IFC Cinemas, screening before features. There was also a few art installations, displaying the props, dioramas, stills, and films at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Berlin Biennale, and also in Miami at the Wolfsonian Museum. They also have screened at many science related festivals and for schools. They were honored with numerous Webby and Audience awards.
Tell us about the new Mario Batali program, “Feedback Kitchen,” and your involvement in the project.
I’ve known Mario and the Producer Reyna Mastrosimone for a few years now and we’ve tried to work together on a few projects, which for one reason or another never came to fruition. I’m glad this one did! Between Mario, Reyna, Steven Sebring, the Dailymotion team, and myself, we decided to make it more kick-ass than your traditional cooking show. I came up with some drawings, they liked them, and when we dressed the set it was an exact replica of the drawings. I hope they do more: there are many musicians and Mario recipes I’d like to see on “Feedback Kitchen.”
"Feedback Kitchen" is the inaugural original production for Dailymotion. Can you tell us how creating online content differs from theatrical and televised productions? How is this changing media?
In the early stages of creating online content, I used to get pissed off all of the time. You’d meet with producers and talk about the project (which I often loved). Then you’d talk about your rate and it was always the same: “but it’s for the web.” Well, to build the interior of a rocket ship and a teenager’s bedroom takes the same amount of labor and props for art department regardless of whether it is for the web or a feature. I’m not Norma Rae, but people have to make a living, and this is NYC, so at least compensation should be fair.
In the early days, I don’t think there was any way to properly monetize projects that were made for the web and that was related to the rates. That is why cat videos were so popular. Don’t get me wrong, I have a cat and if I was a bit faster on the camera, I would probably have millions of unique views on his zany antics. It was strange: you would read about all of these internet companies making and selling for billions, but hardly any of that trickled down to content producers. We should not have to make projects for free, which support these internet companies.
I think now that there is original programming, such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” etc., being made by online companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Dailymoton that is legitimizing online production, and hopefully more of those billions will be used to produce amazing films and series. (I hate to call it content or product!)
Sorry, I digressed. To answer your question: in my mind there should be no difference between making online content as opposed to traditional television and theatrical [releases]. Viewing habits are changing; most of the crew that worked on Green Porno don’t have traditional cable set-ups, but they are all much younger than me! Traditional broadcasters have to catch up.
What makes Brooklyn Fire Proof a unique place to work, especially from an art and set perspective?
I must say I really do like working at Brooklyn Fire Proof; I recommend it often. I like the vibe there. The staff bend over backwards to help you and it is good value for the price. We often needed the space of Stage A, not so much for the shooting sets, but to store and prep our art department dressing and props as we shoot. I know that “Green Porno” looked simple, but a lot went on in prep: many weeks of building sets, props, and costumes. While much was done beforehand, due to the fragile nature of the paper sculpture, many tricky last minute details were needed just before shooting. Stage A gave us the room to do that. We would do 10 shorts in 10 days so there was a lot of art direction. We also rented a workspace across the street, where we did most of the pre-build and just walked it across the street which was cool. The dressing rooms are comfy and you guys keep making improving the facilities and equipment!
Coming soon: we will be shooting a version of Isabella’s live presentation of “Green Porno,” which has been on tour worldwide and which she recently presented at BAM for 11 shows.
I can also say that is nice to be able to walk across the street for a nightcap at the cafe after wrap. I think many on the crew can agree!
Thanks Rick! (“Green Porno” and “Seduce Me” photos by Jody Shapiro).