Sprouts and Growth

July 5, 2015

 

Life in “The Biz” as told by the people and companies who are relatively new to film and TV production work.

As the film industry in Georgia grows, more and more people and companies are finding their place in an industry they never planned to be a part of. Many businesses have sprouted and grown as a result of Georgia’s favorable production tax incentives. Oz has gathered some of the more recent vendors in the production industry to get a glimpse of their world.

Steve Bellomy - Set Supplies

How did you get your first project?

My friends and contacts in the industry were all aware of my business idea to start Set Supplies. I had mortgaged my house and bought two trucks when I got a call from a friend of mine who was production manager on an upcoming BP commercial. She wanted to be my first client and rattled off all the supplies she would need. I lied and told her I had everything ready to go. The call came on a Wednesday, and the commercial was on Monday. I spent the next couple of days driving all over town to get enough gear just to get through that one shoot. Needless to say, it was a success, and the calls started coming in.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

Well, I was working on an independent film, and every day we had to load and unload all of the production supplies just to get to our lighting and grip gear. I felt like something had to change. Someone needed to put all of the supplies under one roof and get them off of the grip truck. I saw an opportunity and talked to everyone I knew in the industry about my business idea, and took several production coordinators and managers to lunch to ask what supplies they would need on set. Everyone I talked to loved the concept of the business, and many said that if I didn’t do it, they would.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

I love seeing our supplies being used on set and knowing that we fulfill a need that saves so much time and effort. I feel like we provide a product and service that is so simple, but so invaluable.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

I would say that about 90% of our clientele, whether producers, production managers, or location coordinators, are associated with the film industry.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

Just in the last two years, not only have we relocated to our new facility in Decatur, we have more than doubled our inventory, added to our trucking fleet, and continued to grow and expand our personnel.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why?

I don’t think that I could pick a favorite project that I’ve worked on, but one that always stands out for me was a TV series called I’ll Fly Away. That’s where I “cut my teeth” as a third electrician for two years straight. Even though that show was nearly 25 years ago, I still consider the crew on that show some of my closest friends.

Matt Davis - Cofer Studio Supplies

How did you get your first project?

The president of our company, Chip Cofer, received a call from the construction coordinator on Big Momma’s House in 2009. They said they were going to be building numerous sets on a stage near our store in Tucker. Chip came to me the following morning and asked me to contact them and see if there was anything we could do for them. Before we knew it, we were selling them all sorts of building material, and I got to know the coordinator and his buyers quite well. It turned out to be a great learning experience for us all.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

We heard that this industry demanded a lot of lumber and building supplies to build their sets, but more importantly demanded quick service, which is our specialty. Big Momma’s House ended up being a big customer, and we received great feedback on how good our service was. After that show, we decided to commit ourselves to this industry and the demands it requires day in, and day out.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Very cool! One particular set comes to mind. In 2010, while we were working on Fast Five, they called requesting burlap bags of sand. Well, we couldn’t source the bags full of sand, so we decided to fill the bags ourselves. Two of my bosses and I stayed late that day to ensure we met their deadline. The following year, I noticed them on the BIG SCREEN!

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

We have a separate division that is dedicated specifically to the film industry. I head it up, and my back up is Katie Cofer. Combined, we handle all sales, special order purchases, and coordinate pick up orders as well as deliveries. We also have dedicated forklift operators, yard employees, and delivery drivers to ensure quick and efficient service.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

A significant portion of our business comes from this industry. Since 2009, it has increased annually along with our ever-growing customer base. When we first started, we mostly just called on the construction coordinators and their buyers. Now we sell to several departments including grips, special effects, and set decoration and have supplied over 200 feature films, TV series, and commercial productions.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

We have not yet had to expand our location. However, we have seen a significant change and increase in inventory. We have always catered to custom home builders, thus selling products to meet their needs. The film industry’s needs and commodity items are much different and generally demand more quantity. Over the past four years, we have actively been seeking yard employees and delivery drivers to meet the demand.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

I have learned that customer service is everything! Our company as a whole has learned to work together as a team and communicate to accomplish good customer service. Not only in this industry, but with our home builders and retail trade as well. As mentioned, we are dedicated to the film industry and will do whatever it takes to meet their needs, day in, and day out. Our company motto is, “No is not an option!” From Chip Cofer, down to the delivery drivers, we all know and understand what it takes to keep our customers happy.

Wayne Stone - Jim Ellis Automotive Group

How did you get your first project?

I have lived in the North Atlanta area my whole life, so I know many people and have many contacts for all types of venues, equipment, vehicles, watercrafts, and bikes. My very first project was taking a location scout for Hall Pass around Lake Lanier. A good friend in charge of security referred me because he knew I lived on Lake Lanier and that I knew the area well. Anyway, after driving him around a short time, I realized I had a better and quicker way to do this. I called a friend that owned a helicopter and had him fly us over the lake for better views. Well, next thing you know, the beach scenes and lake house for Hall Pass were filmed at Mary Alice park on the south end of the lake. I also met the Farrelly brothers as well as the cast. Great people and it was really fun. Ironically, this same venue was used for American Reunion. My boat and I were also in American Reunion. I have since supplied vehicles for Vampire Diaries, Being Mary Jane, Taken 3, The Game, and Devious Maids among others, as well as other picture car companies.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

I hadn’t really planned on pursuing the business but was kind of thrown into it. I now have a small group of regular clients—picture car coordinators in particular—and hope to expand on it. The industry in the state of Georgia is vastly growing and the financial impact is huge.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

It was really fun to see vehicles I was involved with on the screen. It was like “hey, that was mine.”

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

Balancing my film clients with regular clients hasn’t been an issue so far, but I do see the potential for a shift. I hope that will be the case. I really enjoy providing for the industry. I have met some fun and interesting people. It has actually been good for business, resulting in some sales as well.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

So far only a small percentage of our business is from the film industry but, as I stated, I see and hope for a shift to increase that percentage.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

I have learned how a lot of things work behind the scenes that you would never think of or know about when you see the finished feature. The technology, equipment, trial and error, and mostly the people are so interesting. I don’t think anyone that has never experienced any of that has any idea what it takes to make a film. It has been fun and informative.

Vicky Nimmons - Crowne Plaza Atlanta

How did you get your first project?

This hotel got its first project back in 2010, under another hotel brand at the time. I’ve always found this market as something that I’d like to tap into. When I took over the production market for Crowne Plaza Atlanta Midtown, I started working through my old connections from Road Rebel, a company that I’d worked with at a previous hotel. I called on them several times before landing my first production. Building trust is an important element to growing this market segment!

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

It’s a thriving market, it covers a longer stay pattern for the hotel which is very lucrative during low occupancy season, and it provides direct exposure for the hotel.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

We tend to err on the side of privacy for all of our guests. So at any given time, any of our VIP guests can be found in our lounge, sipping on their favorite beverage without any outside distractions.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

5% of our business comes from this industry. We’re looking to grow that 3% over next year. 

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

No, not at this time. We are staffed accordingly to supply the demand for the industry.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

The industry looks for partners they can trust. It’s a tough industry, and Crowne Plaza Atlanta Midtown is that trusting partner who values and respects those committed to the time and effort of executing a great production. We know that it takes time, and like this industry, our team is committed to excellence.

Rebekah Watson - Watson Gallery

How did you get your first project?

When we opened in 2005, we already had several connections with set decorators and buyers in the industry. We took over Abstein Gallery, and Paul Abstein had developed relationships with a few folks. We decided to make it as easy as we could for our film clients and our reputation grew.  I consider many of the set decorators and buyers to be more like friends rather than clients.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

It is so exciting to see our art on the big screen! Often times, we miss the movie because we are too busy scanning for my husband Carey’s work or the work of our other artists. I know that the other artists feel the same way.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

It is not difficult to balance. All of our art is cleared and ready to use. Often times, pieces are selected, wrapped and ready for transport within the hour.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

It depends on the season - but definitely a healthy percentage of our business comes from the film industry, and we could not be more pleased!

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

No. But we would be happy to have to.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Time is always pressing, so we have learned to be ready and accommodating.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why? 

Probably Last Vegas because several of my husband’s large paintings were used and made the final cut. I loved seeing such famous guys standing beside Carey’s work.

Christopher Reece - Reece Tent Rental

How did you get your first project?

Our first project that we worked on was a made for TV movie called Andersonville, about the Civil War Confederate POW war camp, filmed in Turin, GA. The film required large white tents that could hold extras for their film. There were only two companies in Atlanta at the time that had tents large enough to fit the bill, and we were one of them.

Since then, we have continued to work hand in hand with the film productions here in Georgia, and we are proud to be a part of the legacy being built here in Atlanta and the Southeast for the film industry.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

We started seeing a high number of productions being filmed here in Georgia and thought to ourselves there could be a market here that has not been tapped into yet. We saw opportunity and ran with it and have continued to try to do so.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Our tents have actually been used in a few films, but the one that when we saw it blew us away was a film, Not Since You, in which a big portion of the movie takes place under our tent. When we first saw that, we were amazed by it. It’s a very good feeling when you first see something you put so much time and effort into creating and building put on a big screen for everyone to see.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

Finding the balance between our regular clients and our film clients can be difficult at times. You just have to do what it takes to get the job done. I have personally delivered tents and tables and chairs for many movie shoots at 3 am because that’s what it took and what the client needed. I give my cell to many of the locations coordinators, so they can call me when they need something. Our job is to make it happen!

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

I think the percentage fluctuates since so many other companies are now getting involved with the film productions. I would say that a steady 30% of our business comes from our film clients, but we have seen it go as high as 40%.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

We continue to buy tents, tables, chairs, garment racks, and other equipment at a steady pace to accommodate the film industry’s growing needs. We will continue to look for any new niches that we can find to stay ahead of the curve and keep the film industry happy.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Learn to roll with the punches and have some patience. The film industry is not a normal 9-5 job, and if you are going to efficiently do work with them, you have to learn your phone may ring at any time. I remember working at Screen Gems one day delivering tables and chairs to a set, and they were in the process of filming while I was trying to deliver. When they say “quiet on set,” that means you stop what you’re doing and wait until they say it’s clear to continue. It takes longer than usual to get it done, but I wouldn’t have traded that day for anything. It was a fun experience!

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why? 

My favorite projects personally were Catching Fire and Mockingjay

When we got the contracts for Hunger Games, being a big fan of the books, I was excited to get the opportunity to be a part of the process and the making of the movies. We went all over the state putting up tents and thousands of feet of security screening, delivering tables, and chairs for the movies. Just getting to see some of the locations…how they turned a small manmade lake in Jonesboro and a green screen into the starting point of the games was amazing. As a company, we love all of the projects we work on and look forward to all of the new adventures that the movie industry takes us on!

Kenneth Freedman - Service Box and Tape

How did you get your first project?

Like in Hollywood, we were basically “discovered” by production assistants looking for cardboard to protect flooring. Word spreads quickly, and soon we were supplying cardboard pads and other items like blankets and bubble wrap to protect walls and furniture for shoots all over town. Our work sourcing unusual set design material, like giant rolls of foam or bags of Styrofoam, started when a set designer noticed leftover packing material in our warehouse. At the time, she had no idea what she would use it for but knew it could be used for a custom set prop.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

It’s a natural fit with our core business of moving, packing supplies and selling boxes. Realizing that we already stocked so many of the expendables production crews needed, we decided to expand our inventory to include related essentials like gaffers, tape, ropes, and adhesives. Our customers helped us learn what products and tools we should carry.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

Just a small percent, but it’s definitely the most exciting and fun.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff?

Yes, we’ve expanded the number of film industry related products we carry. I enjoy meeting the production and set design people and learning what other items they may need.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Film industry clients have inspired me to see my products beyond their obvious functions.

 

What has been your favorite story from working in the film industry?

A set designer sought our help to find prop material. We toured her through a packaging recycling plant where she spotted large bales of recycled material. Several weeks later, she invited me to her set to see the cool futurist home décor items she fashioned. I can’t wait to take my kids to the movie and show them our product.

Rich “RJ” Rappaport - RJR Props

How did you get your first project?

We are the new kids on the block. We’ve only been doing this for six years. We were blessed to receive a call from TBS. They were making a show called Lords of Bad Axe, which was renamed Level Up, a children’s show. We were asked to make a large computer server room and provide props for other sets. We had lots of mainframe computers and servers ready to go because our previous business was industrial computers and electronics. They needed a crazy huge amount of server gear, but we were able to come up with it. In the end, it all looked really amazing, and the series was picked up. From there, news quickly spread about our capabilities with electronic props, computers, medical gear, etc., and our ability to rig items to light up and work.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

I can’t take the credit. I truly believe that G-d* blessed us. I could not have done it. I know my limits and capabilities. Special effects expert Bob Shelley needed help on a feature film. He came to visit our warehouse. For many years, I had been accumulating a huge collection of computer gear, hospital and medical gear, office gear, police gear, security, aircraft props, and much more. My wife and friends called it “my cool stuff!” I also have a strong background in computers, electronics, medical equipment, and aircraft avionics (pre-med background as well as a military engineering background). Bob Shelley asked us to help obtain a rare piece, and we had the exact item he needed. We also helped provide lighting for it. Bob was amazed at our accumulation and our skills. He said we have a “goldmine here.” That resonated with me, and I decided to give it my very best, to be the Southeast’s technical prop supplier. Since then, we have provided props to 135 feature films and television shows and much more!

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

My kids were watching a show on TV. I told them to quit watching the dumb show and get out of the house, get some fresh air and sunshine. I told them to turn it off, because it looked really boring. Then, I saw it! It was one of my props! OMG!!! All of a sudden it was the BEST TV show I ever saw!!! I made my wife and kids watch the whole thing, even when they wanted to go outside to play baseball! It was the most amazing feeling to see our props being used in the film and television industry.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

We use one phone number for everything. But a few years ago, I picked up the nickname “RJ” in the film industry. It spread fast, and I just got used to it! When clients call for industrial electronics, they ask for Rich. When film and television folks call, they ask for RJ!

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

It started out slow, but it’s now over 50% of our business. It has been a great blessing. We have always given to various charities, whether the money is there or not. This has been a way to support my family and support these charities as well.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

Yes, we are continuously expanding our props inventory, bringing in exciting new items every week. 

We recently acquired a piece of history from the NASA space program: the telemetry unit from the Space Shuttle, and a vintage EEG machine used to stress test astronauts in the early days of the space race. We also expanded the amount of space allotted to props.  We have 35,000 square feet, with 32 feet ceilings. We have pallet racking that is three levels high, giving us about 90,000+ square feet of useable space. We also have forklifts, pick ladders, special shelving, and lighting to maximize it and make it all accessible.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Always give 110%. There is no room for halfhearted, unmotivated people. It doesn’t matter how it gets done, but it must get done right 100% of the time. You also need to think differently than everyone else. It helps to be very creative, but you have to learn to think differently, to see the big picture, and to imagine how something will look fully dressed through the lens of the camera.

 

What has been your favorite story from working in the film industry?

We were working on a feature film. We were providing props for a stock brokerage set. There were computers on every desk. Everything worked perfectly when we provided it. Someone on the set was dressing the computers, and they wanted to change a few settings on all the computers. Unknowingly, they made all the computers unusable. We got a call very late on a Friday afternoon. They asked us to come in on Sunday morning at 7am to fix them. We stayed up most of the night Saturday night coming up with various fixes and plans. On Sunday at 7am, I brought two computer experts, as well as my son who is studying computer science. We had two hours to repair every computer and get everything running. It was a large set with lots of computers. My son came up with the fix, and we got it all done. The computers were all back up and running. We asked them to please not change settings in the future.

Then the set decorator realized that the digital studio in LA had accidentally sent playback images that were the wrong resolution! It had nothing to do with us. Apparently the digital studio made the images incorrectly. It was a Sunday. The studio was in LA, and it was closed on Sunday. That would mean the filming would have to be put off an entire day, costing the production untold gobs of money. It was only an hour before final rehearsal! Nobody knew what to do. My son respectfully offered to help. He formulated a plan. He re-imaged the images in the proper resolution, without pixilation, using photo shop on his Mac. Then he used Adobe Flash, in place of Adobe Director, to arrange the images. He burned them onto 28 different thumb drives and asked a few teams of people to burn them onto the 28 computers. It was all finished just as the limousines pulled up with the actors for final rehearsal. Everything went perfect thank G-d. And the set decorator personally thanked us for saving the production a lot of money and time delays. My son received a personal thank you in recognition for helping with the production. It was scary and difficult getting through it, but it got done and we thank G-d every day!

*Original spelling maintained out of respect for religious beliefs.

John Cyphers - Batteries Plus Bulbs

How did you get your first project?

I was closing my store one night in 2008 and a sound mixer—which I didn’t even know what that was—bought 100, 9 volt batteries over the phone. He wanted to pick them up at 10:30 that night. I told him I didn’t stay open that late, so I hid the product behind my store, told him where they were, and the next day they were gone.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

The aforementioned customer said way back then that this industry was going to be huge in Georgia, and I brushed him off as another crazy customer.

I was definitely wrong in that thinking, as we work with 40+ productions a year at least. He started passing my name along to others, and it just exploded.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Since all the products my customers use are behind the scenes, it’s just another cog in the wheel, but it’s satisfying to know we play a small part in getting these productions to the screen.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

As the owner, I personally try to handle all the film clients along with other commercial business as well. I have to say, my veteran and knowledgeable store staff do a great job in providing support for my sales team in filling the gaps we miss.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

10% of my commercial business and 5% overall of commercial/retail combined.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

Adding this industry has created more staffing due to increased ticket counts. Also, I have widely expanded my inventory by carrying unique batteries I didn’t know existed, but stocked them due to customer requests.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Having inventory in stock and speed in delivery is something we pride ourselves for all customers. Productions took to this to a whole other level. Instead of asking the customers how quickly do they need the batteries, I tell them delivery either same-day or next day at the latest. No production staff member wants to be the one to delay an expensive scene because a few dollars worth of batteries weren’t there in time.

I also learned to make the production office staff look good with timely quotes and deliveries. They have a really tough job, work long hours, and a lot of people above them to deal with everyday. I found myself working with many of the same coordinators on different projects throughout the years and have developed good working relationships with them.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why? 

So many to choose from! I would have to say The Watch. Normally I don’t get to see my products in use when I see the film, but this was unique. A set designer called me and asked for 600 fake car batteries for a scene. I had no clue how to handle this, so I called up our car battery manufacturer and asked them about it. They helped me out and stopped production on one of their lines and reconfigured it so they could make just the plastic shells. 

We created some fake labeling and when I saw the movie, I got to see the scene where they were all piled up powering a communications device to send word back to the alien home world.

Marina Miller - Event Drapery

How did you get your first project?

I received a call from Tyler Perry Studios, they were working on a movie project, locally, and they found us searching online for a custom drapery company.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

I have an extensive background in interior design, fashion merchandising, fashion, and prop stylist work. Drapery became an extension to what I already loved to do. Event Drapery was started in 2006 to fill a huge gap in the industry for drapery that was not just velour or polyester. We had seen huge success in the event industry. The film industry was a surprise for me, but once we began working on projects with multiple set designers and producers, it all fell into place and we knew what we had to offer was exactly what was needed.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Exciting. It means that Event Drapery is trusted to be a part of the industry.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

Very carefully. The film industry is very different from the special event industry. One huge similarity is the temporary set up, but a big learning curve for my team and myself is the time we set aside to work on a film project as opposed to a special event. Even for a small installation there can be lots of changes Patience is a virtue; it helps that the atmosphere is electric!

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry? 

Currently about 10%, we look forward to more growth!

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

Inventory has been the predominant expansion; we have added multiple new patterns to our inventory and are able to use them in other projects.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

Patience.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why? 

That’s a difficult question, really, there is a similarity between special events, but with the film industry there are so many things that are new and exciting to us. Locations are a huge favorite of mine, seeing more of Atlanta than I knew was here. My favorite thing about working in this industry is the buzz, it’s in the air, it’s exciting, it’s new, and it’s contagious!

Diana Cochran - Vann Jernigan Florist

How did you get your first project?

Word of mouth. We started working with Frank Galini, when he was working on Warm Springs more than 10 years ago.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

The floral business is seasonal; the film and television industry has kept our sales steady when we don’t have Valentine’s Day or Christmas boosting sales. This business fits in nicely with our everyday work because the call times are usually very early. We can get the film and television work delivered before our normal day even starts.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

I was at home watching movies on a Saturday afternoon and was caught by surprise; I had been watching My Fake Fiancé, not looking for our work, just having a day off. They had a huge wedding in this movie; we had done all the bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, garlands and the pew bouquets. I was excited to see how good everything looked and how many clear shots of the work there actually were. Often times, the flowers are background arrangements and you’re so engrossed in the plot you’re not paying attention to the flowers.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

Film industry clients have large, specific, and thoroughly planned needs that are fun for us to develop out and execute. Of course, they forget anniversaries and birthdays like everyone else, so we bring in additional creative staff for large projects and keep the staff designers busy with daily operations.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

About 20%.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff?

Often times, we do expand our staff by bringing in a talented group of freelance designers we have come to rely on.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

We have learned to be flexible and fast. I think most importantly we have learned to listen very carefully in order to interpret the looks and feeling the prop masters are trying to convey.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why? 

I don’t think we can actually name a favorite project, but we do like working with TV series simply because of the repeat business. My staff’s favorite was an elaborate vampire funeral in a creaky old Southside church for Vampire Diaries. Who doesn’t love a good vampire funeral?

Lisa Thompson - 14th Street Antiques

How did you get your first project?

The way we got our first project was the set designers found us!

Over the past 10 years, they’ve kept coming back for everything from the bones of the set to the finishing touches, including lighting and rugs. With our two stores located within minutes of each other, they can cover a lot of ground—nearly 90,000 sq. ft. of merchandise—in a short time, which helps them considerably with tight production deadlines.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

We love doing business with set designers. They’re fun, energetic and creative people, which is our absolute favorite type of customer. It’s been wonderful building long-term relationships with them through the years. They consider us a part of their team, knowing that we’ll take their calls, respond in a timely manner, and really care about a project.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Everyone here watches for the films to come out, and we all enjoy spotting familiar pieces. It’s fascinating to see things in a different setting and context, especially since we don’t often get that opportunity with our retail business.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

20-25% of our business comes from the film industry.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff?

We know that we have to move quickly on film industry projects. We’re flexible, so our staff is available to work longer hours when a film industry job comes through the doors.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

What we’ve learned is that anything can happen, to expect the unexpected, what works on camera and what doesn’t, and how to get stains out of all kinds of materials. That’s been an education! We also found out that 99% of our art is considered clearable. Another interesting discovery is how easy it is to create a set vs. decorate a home, because emotions are removed from the decision making process.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why?

Favorite projects include the movie Keeping Up with the Joneses, where we were involved from beginning to end with the development of each set, including planning and scouting product. We had a similar experience with the TV show Satisfaction, where we had weekly meetings to plan upcoming sets. It’s especially rewarding when designers send pictures in advance, we find suitable matches, and then simply arrange for delivery. Presto!

Steven Carse - King of Pops

How did you get your first project?

People saw us on the street and thought it would be cool to have us come out to the set. Vampire Diaries was one of our first. It has been so cool how everyone here filming has really embraced Atlanta, and as an extension of that, King of Pops.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

We didn’t really pursue the film industry specifically. It was just a natural progression of our catering business. With us getting more and more popular in Atlanta and the production business being so present in the city in the past few years, it was only natural we would end up catering our pops to them.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

We love seeing people having our product and their reaction. On a movie set, there are a lot of the crew who are from here, so most of them know us and come ask about their favorite flavors, and then you have a lot of actors flying in from LA or NY, who are having it for the first time. We love seeing their reactions too, as they ask us more about what they’re having and seem baffled about the simplicity and quality of ingredients. They are usually working long hours, tired, and in this time of year, also hot, so bringing them a delicious frozen treat does brighten up their day. And this is what we love doing.

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

We treat everyone the same way. No matter if it’s a kid’s birthday party which only ordered 50 pops or a celebrity-packed movie set, we want to bring the best standards of service and product to everyone. But we won’t lie, sometimes our pop slingers get really excited about going to a film set. It’s definitely fun for us to be involved. And of course, after going to a movie set, we get thrilled when we get a celebrity who first tried our pops on set and is off that day and wants to have another one. In the past few weeks, we had Jon Hamm, Zach Galifinakis, Sacha Baron Cohen, and his wife, Isla Fisher, visit our window shop in Inman Park.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

Although we are often called in to cater at movie and TV sets, it’s still a relatively small percentage of our business, maybe 5%. That 5% though accounts for some of the best stories and most fun we’ve had in this business.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

The biggest lesson we learned is that unlike most events, that are planned and booked ahead, the requests for the film industry are usually very last minute. We know it’s no one’s fault, just the nature of the business. Of course, we do our best to make it work, which usually require some creative logistics. The good news is, once there, no one is more excited to see us than film crews. They really are the best customers in the world.

 

What has been your favorite project to work on? Why?

This is from one of our slingers, Mac Herring: When I catered the set of the third Hunger Games movie, I had to park the truck while some of the production staff wheeled the cart inside the soundstage for me. When I got back to my cart, a few people had [already] taken the chalkboard and bag from on top of the cart and were digging through it looking for pops. Mindful of the danger that dry ice presents to ungloved hands, I ran toward them asking as politely as I could “Hi, can I help you??” The person deepest in the cart looked up like a deer in headlights and started apologizing profusely. It was Jennifer Lawrence. She only had a short break to eat something before she was required again for filming, and she had specifically requested to have King of Pops on set. I quickly served her two pops (Strawberry Lemonade and Chocolate Sea Salt), and she was hustled back toward the set. I didn’t even have time to catch my breath afterward because I had to write my chalkboard for all the other pop fans that were working on the movie!

Delores Harris  - Harris Diversified

How did you get your first project?

Around 2007 our company started providing generated power through a tent company for locations--catering, extras, hair and makeup, and changing tents. After working with the film industry for a while, someone suggested that we should provide portable HVAC rentals as well, and from there things really took off for our rental business.

 

Why did you decide to pursue this business?

We were intrigued by its energy, and it was so totally different than the festival industry.

 

What was it like to see your product being used for the film industry?

Our first production was The Blind Side. We were so thrilled and excited to use our very first 25-ton A/C we had just purchased. We owe that to Melody Manning for giving us our first opportunity, and for that we will always be grateful!

 

How do you balance regular clients with your film clients?

It is tough sometimes especially when we are doing large high profile events such as the Peachtree Road Race, the Salute to America - 4th of July event at Lenox, and Music Midtown, but we somehow make it.

 

What percentage of your business comes from the film industry?

75%.

 

Have you had to expand your location, inventory, or staff? 

Yes. We have more than doubled our warehouses, inventory, and staff over the past few years.

 

What lessons have you learned from your experience with the film industry?

To be ready, willing and able to do anything and everything at any given moment. Yea, 24/7, that’s us. Being dependable, reliable and experienced with a very professional staff with customer service qualities is what’s gotten us where we are today. It really matters.

 

What was your favorite project to work on or with? Why?

There has been a lot. We have worked on over 150 film and television productions over the past seven years. 42, Furious 7, Insurgent, and The Walking Dead, Season One, will always be special to us, but I think we would have to say The Blind Side. Because it was our very first “big one,” and we love the movie.

 

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