Looking Up: SolidLine Winter Internship Week 4:  Blizzard, Without the Cookie Dough
By Sam Sher, SolidLine Winter Intern
Week Four.  January 31.  Weathermen are calling for a blizzard.

The week begins like any other.  Office at 9.  Maybe a breakfast run.  Lots of coffee.  My first task is to continue with transcribing, the never-ending project.  A couple of hours into that Greg tells me he wants me to sit in on a conference call that afternoon, so I’ve got that to look forward to.  At 1:00 I go into the office to take notes and hear how it goes.  The call is with the “Real Father Initiative”, a group in Northwestern Indiana that helps young and single fathers deal with their situation.  The production will be a documentary style video about the program. We’re going to Gary, Indiana in a few weeks to shoot a couple of interviews and b-roll  footage for the video production.  I take notes of the whole conversation, keeping up with the flow.  Guess all the transcribing is finally paying off!

I’m glad to be able to sit in on a conference call, as this is my first experience in a producer/client planning conversation.  I know that if I’m to survive in this business then I’ll need to understand that producer/client relationship, and I’ll take every chance I can to sit in and observe that dynamic in action.

At this point the weather is decent enough.  Nothing to be concerned about.  The weathermen are clamoring like it’s the end of the world.  Blizzard?  Snowpocolypse?  Snowmaggedon?  Psh.  It’s just winter.

Tuesday comes, day one of Hoth on Earth.  At least that’s the prediction.  Morning comes and goes, not a flake.  I’m sitting at the table in the main room with Caylen, the graphics intern.  Lots of Transcribing still to do, but I’m making good progress!  After work I have plans to go to the Midwest Independent Film Festival Screening of the movie “Cherry”.  I’m looking forward to it, and mockingly comment that I probably won’t be able to get home through the blizzard.

From the office window we watch the snow start to come.  Light flurries, nothing terrible yet, but it’s slowly picking up.  We have a shoot scheduled the next day at the Four Season’s Hotel on the Magnificent Mile, and another on Thursday at an Architectural Antique’s Museum in the north part of the city.  All of this is depending on the snow.  And if we’re to believe the weathermen, Michael Bay himself is directing this storm.

5:00pm rolls around and it’s snowing pretty heavily.  I say my goodbyes for the day and head north to my screening.  It’s not too bad getting to the brown line, but when I get off on Diversey I’m blasted by the wind.  The snow isn’t bad, but the wind is pushing me along, nearly knocking me over.  I make it to the theater and enjoy the pre-show talk with a local film critic.  The movie, “Cherry”, is a fun and fairly honest portrait of a freshman in college falling in love for the first time.  I see a few familiar faces from the networking event last week!  The screening ends around 9:30, and so begins my journey home.  I step out of the theater and realize that Chicago has become a wasteland and is now inhospitable to human life.  I make my way down to Diversey and pull my scarf around my nose, pull my hat down to my eyes, tighten my hood, and begin the long trudge.

First of all, the snow is shin high.  That makes walking difficult and slow going, which isn’t easy when the wind is trying with all its might to knock me down.  Then there’s the fact that the wind is blowing what feels like ice needles into my face, right into my eyes, hundreds of sharp edges pelting me at once, like a shower but cold and sharp, and still blowing right into my face no matter which direction I’m facing.  I hold my hands up in front of my face and, step by step, fight my way to the train stop.  Roughly an hour later I make it to the blue line stop at Division, happy to be so close to home.  As I’m coming up the stairs to the street a man heading down wishes me luck.  Gulp.  It’s worse.  I manage a quick video on my phone before the wind becomes too much to take, and I have to re-bundle up while struggling to stand.  There are only two cars out, both sliding wildly around what is normally a busy intersection.  Step, by step, by step, I trudge forward against the onslaught.  Finally I’m on my street.  My hands again have to guard my face as I stare at the ground, until I look up to see where I am.  When I look up, there’s a large dog headed straight for me.  Crap.  Luckily its owner calls it aside and I make it, exhausted, to my doorstep.  I will never doubt the severity of a Chicago winter again.  Ever.

Video just outside my place

The next morning our shoot is still on, what?  Nobody can believe it but we have to press on! So I make my way out through the blizzard again to get to the Four Seasons hotel, where we are interviewing the CEO of Premier Farnell.  After arriving and setting up we learn that the interview is being pushed back for a few hours, and I get to eat a Wagyu Beef burger, which might be one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

The shoot goes by without a hitch, with the CEO in talking in front of a green screen, and I’m given the task of running audio.  I haven’t run audio since school, but remember the basics, so after a brief rundown of the controls and levels, I manage the audio for the shoot.  The talent’s range is pretty wide, so I’m busy with turning knobs to make sure she doesn’t peak but also doesn’t get too soft.

After the shoot we discuss logistics for the shoot the next morning, where Ed and I will go to the Premier Farnell meeting and film it from multiple angles to create a TV show like production.  Joining us is Justin Sweatland, a former SolidLine intern.  It’s great to meet a predecessor!  We meet up at the office in the morning, and the three of us head out in the Tahoe to where the meeting is taking place.  Remember the blizzard?  Yeah, Chicago is still under two feet of snow.  After circling the block a number of times looking for a safe place to unload, and getting stuck and having to get out and push once, we’re finally at the location.

The shoot is taking place at an Architectural Antiques Museum, and during the breaks I have a chance to explore and look at the objects on display.  They’ve got a lot of cool stuff, from old Roman-looking statues to Argentinian sculptures, and more.  Pictured below is one of my favorites.  I’m running the B-Camera, so I get to set it up on my own.  We shoot the show without incident, and load up.  Despite the weather, the past two days’s shoots have been good…and quite memorable.

In spite of sorely underestimating the sincerity of Chicago’s meteorologist community, it’s been a good week.  I successfully ran audio for a shoot, I survived the storm of the century, and I experienced my first conference call.  Next week is my first trip with the SolidLine crew, to New Jersey, and I’m looking forward to a road trip in the truck.  Hopefully the Tundra has thawed a little by then.  I trust you enjoyed my recount of the week’s adventures.  Until next time my dear readers, my name is Sam and you just read my blog!

-Sam the Intern

Copyright 2011  KV Media Group, Inc. a division of SolidLine Media

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