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This is Bottle Rocket Media | Meet Project Manager, Stephanie Jaslowski

When project manager, Stephanie Jaslowski grabs the ball, it’s game on. As the “quarterback” of every single Bottle Rocket Media production, it is her responsibility to know all the plays beforehand and ensure a winning video production –from beginning to edit.

What does it mean to be a project manager?

Being a project manager is like being a quarterback. The coach, or producer, relays all the information that you need to set your team up—but, it’s your responsibility to know the plays, the expectations, and what’s going at all times. You pass everything along to your teammates, who look to you to keep the project moving efficiently. 

Why do you love what you do?

I love being the person who knows what’s up, and I love being the main point of contact between Bottle Rocket Media’s clients and the team. It’s definitely a challenge to juggle many projects at different stages, but that’s what I live for. Also, being involved in the entire video production process, from start to finish, is very fulfilling. Watching a simple idea morph into a successful creation for the client makes even the toughest projects worthwhile.

How did you get your start?

After graduating from Loyola University Chicago, I worked as a production assistant for McDonald’s Corporation. Spending time in the creative services department, helping out on large internal conferences, I realized how much extra work and dedication is required behind the scenes that so many don’t see.

How did you end up connecting with Bottle Rocket Media? 

I saw the post on LinkedIn and applied right away! Ready for the next chapter, I wanted to move on to a video production company with an engaging and inspiring vision. I was ready to meet a new group of people who love and thrive at what they do. It was the perfect fit.

How does your working style fit with the team?

I like to get things done, and so does everyone else. We all take our roles and responsibilities seriously and know what’s expected of us. We also collaborate together because we know we are better as a team. It’s pretty great to be surrounded by such creative individuals. Everyone on our team is crucial to our success.

What types of projects are you looking forward to in 2019? 

I’m looking forward to seeing our top secret Aragon Ballroom piece come together next month.  It’s exciting for us to be a part of a historic music venue that means so much to Chicago.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the field/why? 

I’m proud to say that I have never given an incorrect call time or address. It’s easier said than done (I probably just jinxed myself) but I take pride in getting people to show up when and where they’re supposed to. It’s all on me.

Favorite movie/video of all time and why…

There are so many films that have inspired me in so many different ways. I’ve always loved “You’ve Got Mail,” because of Nora Ephron’s writing style and directing. But, “Remember the Titans” will always be the first film that I watched over and over until I knew every line, every music track, and every actor. The well-drawn characters really changed my perspective for the better. In the end, I love movies that make the audience laugh, cry, think, and come together.

In the Cutting Room | Meet Editor, Dave Sarno

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Editor, Dave Sarno

Dave Sarno knows about visual storytelling—as far as he is concerned, it is not just the writing or directing that guides the viewer. With a love of film that began at age 10, he has fully embraced the painstaking, yet vital “discovery process” that is post-production. Learn how his approach helps push each Bottle Rocket Media project forward.

Framed: An Improvised Series – “The Clown” from Bottle Rocket Media on Vimeo.

What got you into editing?

I’ve been into movies and storytelling since I was 10. My first foray into the filmmaking process was making Super 8 movies with my childhood friends (Yep, I date myself). Much later, after I graduated from film school, I co-directed a feature documentary film. While working on that project, I saw the story come together in the editing room and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.

What about the craft moves you?

I can’t explain the reason why a cut works—I just know it when I see it. It’s trial and error until something clicks. I like that discovery process.

How does your style/technique tie into creating successful brand videos?

A lot of stories are reimagined in the editing room. Sometimes, the intended middle scene becomes the opening scene. Other times, a voice over is added to give depth to the visuals. The cut at the end of the day can be much different than at the start. There is a lot of improvising required in editing in order to get the best result. For me, it is always exciting to try something new in the editing room that hasn’t yet been considered.

What video technology/storytelling technique are you most excited about right now?

Moving to Bottle Rocket Media from the freelance world has allowed me to edit many 360 video projects. It’s a different kind of storytelling, and I’m eager to see where we can go with it.

What has been your proudest accomplishment at Bottle Rocket Media?

We shot and edited a web series last year called Framed, featuring the amazing talents of Chicago’s funniest improvisors asking a “shop owner” to frame bizarre objects. Since the actors were so funny, there were actually few moments that weren’t usable. We sculpted the 4-5 min episodes in the edit and my job was keeping the pace up while staying out of their way.

Comedy operates completely on what feels good and what makes you laugh in the cut. It was a great learning experience and so much fun. I wear headphones in the office, and everyone knew when I was cutting Framed because I laughed out loud a lot.

ON THE SET OF FRAMED

Favorite movie of all time and why…

Good Fellas. The camera movement, the editing, the acting… It’s uncomfortable. It’s terrifying—funny and manic. I think I’ve softened a little over the years as a movie watcher, but each time I see it, I can’t take my eyes off it.

This Is Bottle Rocket Media | Meet Producer Siobhan Summers

Bottle Rocket Media’s own Siobhan Summers’ love of producing dates back to a fateful experience at 12-years-old at the Oprah Winfrey Show (where she would later work). From coordinating massive shoots in mere hours to hunting for a  ‘missing’ Stevie Wonder, there is nothing this multi-talented producer/editor/writer has ever shied away from.

Here’s what Siobhan had to say about her 20-year, professional journey:

What first got you into producing?

When I was in seventh grade, I attended a live taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. I loved watching the women work behind the scenes. They had headsets, they seemed super busy and important—buzzing around the studio and backstage. I was very drawn to what was happening during the commercial breaks. Producers would come out with blue cards and talk to Oprah and her guests. I was in awe! These people pulled this show together. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a producer.

When I was a senior in college, I opened the yellow pages (remember those?) and called Harpo Studios to ask about their internship program, they didn’t have one at the time but said “can you come in tomorrow for a meeting?”  And I was there for the next 13 years.

Why do you love producing?

Collaboration. It is one of my favorite words—it is one of my favorite things. While I love the logistics and the organizational side of my job, the best part is when we all come together on set. We combine our individual roles, responsibilities and perspectives to produce something great. And, If I’ve done my job well, I don’t have much to do on set, the shoot should be running smoothly. I’m there to troubleshoot and graze craft services.

How do you approach each of your projects?

Always look ahead and work the process backward. When producing any project, it’s important to think of the end-game first. As Oprah taught me, it’s important to ask the question: “What is the intention?” So I think about – what does the client want to see/feel/communicate? Once the end is clear, you map out the road to get there. That’s what a producer does—we coordinate all aspects of the production from start to finish.  

What are some of the challenges you face as a producer creating short form material?

I love short form—it’s small and packs a punch. Considering that today’s consumers eat up a massive amount of content on their devices, bitesize is the way to go. The challenge is getting the message across in a brief, succinct and impactful video. This is a challenge I embrace. The editing process, for example, is an opportunity to deep dive into the material we’ve shot and be super selective and picky about what ends up on screen. This is when my Type A personality shines!

Talk to the creative side of producing.

While budgets, logistics and deadlines are a huge part of a producer’s job, a really good producer has to be a storyteller with a creative eye. It’s essential when doing quality control of the messaging and offering constructive direction during pre and post processes.

What is your proudest accomplishment in the field/why?

There are so many! I really love my job because every project is different.

I was part of the team who booked, produced and arranged for 176 olympians from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games to come to Chicago’s Millennium Park – and we had 12 days to do this. I’ve taken a seeing eye-horse for a walk in the west loop while his handler was in hair and makeup. The horse was named Cuddles. I’ve run around United Center with Patti LaBelle to get her to rehearsal on time when my colleague, Amy,  says over the headset “We’ve lost Stevie Wonder!” it was a rough twenty or so minutes until she came back on radio to say “Mr. Wonder has been located. He is at the Radio Shack on Michigan Avenue.”  So great.

But my honest to goodness favorite moments in producing is connecting with regular people who have the courage to open up to me in an interview. It may not always be glamorous or super exciting, but it is always humbling when someone trusts me to tell their story.

Favorite movie of all time and why:

Say Anything. Originally, I loved it for the obvious reasons: John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler, the unapologetic hopeless romantic, and of course, the iconic In Your Eyes boombox scene. However, my favorite moment is when Lloyd is in a phone booth, in the rain, talking to his sister and he says: “I gave her my heart. She gave me a…pen.”  For your viewing pleasure, click here. You’re welcome.

Years later though, watching it for the millionth time, I came to appreciate the shy brainiac, Diane Court (Ione Skye), realizing that she is just as complex and interesting as Lloyd. She is a strong and resilient female lead, and I don’t think that was celebrated when the movie came out.

Cheers to Diane Court!

 

The Bullhorn | Meet Director Mark Cwiakala

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Director Mark Cwiakala

In the first installment of our Bullhorn series, we meet director Mark Cwiakala – who comes to the Chicago-based production team with a passion for storytelling, documentary-style video and a lot less “confusion” than when he started out.

Here’s what Mark had to say about his 25-year journey as a professional creator:

What got you into directing? I got into directing out of a sense of confusion. When I was working as a creative director, it perplexed me that I would hand off storyboards to another person who would then direct the spot I had been working on for weeks – sometimes for months. Not that they couldn’t do it, but why wouldn’t I do it?

How did you connect with Bottle Rocket Media?I met founder, Dan Fisher, about eight years ago while working on a pitch for a series called No Chef’s Allowed. I was introduced by a mutual producer friend who thought Dan would be perfect for the project. We clicked! He was a great addition to our team and an overall joy to be around. Years later, when I was looking to branch out and focus more on directing, I figured enough time went by that he’d forgotten how annoying I was. So, I dropped him a line.

What draws you to documentary-style video? I love a good story. That’s it. Listening to real people tell you something interesting, shocking, thoughtful, weird, obscene, sad, or exciting, is performance art.

How does the medium lend itself to brand videos? I’ve always felt the best way to communicate is to show someone something authentic that they can relate to. No one likes to be told what to do or what to buy, but if you can expose an audience to something that hits home – especially something they have never seen before – it will be contagious. Getting people to relate is the best way to make an impact.

What will you bring to the portfolio in 2019? I hope to work on a few new docu-series projects and expand into different industries that Bottle Rocket Media has yet to tap. Currently, I’m working on a documentary that spotlights the recent explosion of combat-art, and why we are seeking out violent outlets in a time when humans no longer need to be physically aggressive to survive. In the end, I love shooting anything that’s thrown my way, while challenging myself to make it better than expected.

What video techniques are you most excited about right now? I don’t get hung up on technology too much. I keep aware of it. But, even if the tool itself can facilitate the creative, the creative should always dictate the tool. Content comes first. That being said, I really want to shoot a moving bullet probe lens through a big pile of fruit, or cakes, or even water balloons.

Favorite movie of all time and why:8 ½ by Fellini. If you can’t relate the opening scene, I’d like to be on what you’re on.

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