The “Chumps & Gertie” Experience
When we first were approached to pitch a concept for a video about the Tucson Streetcar, we were just one month away from opening day (which was slated for July 25th).
On June 26th, we met with the Friends of the Streetcar and collectively decided we couldn’t just do a slideshow. Whatever we did had to have “big city sizzle.” So what was originally just a gig that required collecting unique images had now become a huge project.
We hashed out some ideas, hit some roadblocks with the approval process and then finally on July 14th we got the green light for a proposed film (a slapstick comedy, following a smitten boy’s mad dash along the streetcar route). Now the big work would really begin. Our team was tasked with permitting, casting, scripting, filming and editing a film that highlighted each of the Sun Link stops, captured the character of the city and showcased the streetcar experience, to be viewed on projectors at the launch parties.
The result of our efforts would be a 10 minute film that used storytelling and humor to introduce the streetcar to the public. It had the charm only a local firm based in the city could capture and we executed it at a pace few could match.
So how did we do it?
Well we stopped culling through old Tucson photos and Harold Lloyd films, and started making lots and lots of phone calls. We needed to find the right cast for our film.
We followed a couple leads and found our lead actors within twenty-four hours. Lucky for us, actors in Tucson are hungry and after we calling our prospects, all of them agreed to meet us at our office within hours. When we met the guy who would become our main character — the frenzied, dopey “Chumps” — he already looked Harold Lloyd (he even wore those glasses, every day, on his on) and he was a comedian.
Our leading lady — the composed and beautiful “Gertie” — was also the first prospect we met with, and she was a lovely lady with acting chops and a graceful gait.
By July 15th we had most of our cast (our own content specialist Pat was set to be the abusive cop, and we HAD a John Dillinger lined up, though he would fall through and be replaced by Tuesday). We were done with what we thought would be the hard part and we could move on to styling, props and location scouting.
I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details and break it down like this:
- Actors were dragged to How Sweet It Was to line up our 1930s wardrobe
- Jeff Smith signed on to help us with camerawork
- Darren Clark helped us punch up our script in many hilarious and frantic tete-a-tetes at BRINK HQ
- Props were cut, spray painted, taped and sewn
- A crew was cobbled together
- Location scouting happened the day before we were set to shoot
- Lots of Tucson locals signed up to do cameos from us (one even agreed to have glass plates full of food smashed all over him)
- We lined up an old school taxi cab
- Isabella’s Ice Cream let us use their amazing truck
- Talented makeup and hair stylist Hooti agreed to help us
- Actors were photographed and wanted posters were photoshopped
And all of that in just a few days. By Thursday (less than a week after we got our green light!) we were shooting on the streets of Tucson. And the first shot featured a live dog. And shooting went on for three days after that, not without blips (we nearly lost a lens twenty feet down a sewer, for one) but we shot a slew of Tucson businesses and iconic spots and got the shots we needed.
By Sunday filming was done!
We dropped the future of the project into our editor Jim’s capable hands so he could seamlessly edit the heap of footage from 5 different locations (plus old shots of Harold Lloyd climbing on top of a trolley car) in just a couple of days.
We’re super happy with what we were able to do with so little time and money. Check out a special director’s cut version of the film to see what we mean.