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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Visiting Chapman/Leonard and Tour from Asst. Marketing Manager Nichole Huenergardt...

So it was 2006 NABShow when I was living in Hollywood my friends and I who were working in the industry said hey let's go to NAB on a whim. It was my first year attending so it was pretty crazy to see it all(or what I was able to take in a day-and a day wasn't enough honestly). If you've never been to NAB basically every major company supporting Broadcast TV, Film, Radio, spanning more than a million net square feet have booths with all their solutions for our industry on display. In recent years we've seen more options on display in booths for indie filmmakers on the show floor ever since the HDSLR revolution I started to see a big shift towards supporting indie filmmakers but back then it was more Broadcast. So I just combed the floors as fast as I could to attempt to soak it all in and ended up running into a companies booth called Chapman/Leonard who supports the biggest productions in the Motion Picture and Television Industry...and for a really long time. Going back to 1945 Nicholes' Great Grandfather started the company(and her Grandfather picked up where he left off-I believe her great grandfather is no longer with us). Just some of the Filmtools they build and support the industry are Telescoping Camera Cranes, Arms, Bases, Stabilized Remote Camera Systems, Dollies, Pedestals, Sports Sideline Vehicles and more. So I was greeted by the very lovely Annette Kiatpiriya-Requena. I must have looked like a very young man at the time cause even today people think I'm much younger for my age. I was looking at one of their dollies which she gladly demo'd and she started to ask me what I do. The conversation left me with some info on the possibility of leasing one or the option for rentals. I found that very cool that even though I was still an up and coming filmmaker she treated me just like anyone else. At that time it wasn't in the cards but after getting a tour yesterday I have to say...I want these filmtools on my productions. Also roaming the booth I met an attractive lady and her equally attractive very young daughter Nichole who caught my attention. She was just a lil girl at the time(and just to let you know...you really don't see kids ever on the show floor-I think like 15 might be the youngest who can attend but don't quote me on that)...but I learned she was the granddaughter of one of the owners. I had a great conversation with her. I was impressed not by just a beautiful young girl there's plenty of eye candy in the booths with demo girls and models sure...I was more impressed with the fact that she was a part of the company. She grew up in this Hollywood La La Land...and her family built these amazing tools. Not that it relates really in any way but I too grew up in my Pops shadow as a photographer so I can identify with being in and around a family business. So we kinda had that connection going on. I ended up following up with her mother via email since her daughter was really too young to get to know at the time about getting a tour I was so impressed with the company and the family. She agreed to give me a tour but unfortunately I ended up moving back up to Portland before that could ever happen. Over the years I'd drop her a line here and there...but never got the tour. Everytime I was back down here I was typically too busy to have time to visit. So a decade later on this trip down for some meetings in Hollywood and also attending Siggraph I reached out to Nichole after realizing she was all grown up and still a part of the company today. I must admit I googled her after meeting her way back because she was telling me about her passion outside of now filmmaking as an Ice Skater(she just completed fer first Doc on it you can learn more on her IMDB). She is Not just the granddaughter hanging out around the shop she's actually a lot more than that. She's a photographer, a social media influencer, a marketer for the company, Filmmaker and an overall expert with all the tools they build. I mean like me she literally grew up in this industry(difference being around my Pops who's a photographer it wasn't till later in high school I got the film bug taking Video Production-I had 0 ties to the Motion Picture Industry...I had to make all these connections myself over the past couple decades). So after many emails and trying to get our schedules aligned yesterday we finally connected.

Arriving at Chapman/Leonard you'll drive through what might not seem like the right place. I drove past a lot of industrial buildings almost thinking I'm lost but then I see the beautiful greenery covering the main office. I pull into the first spot and I'm almost instantly greeted by a gentleman who walks up to me and says hi how can I help you with a like your in the wrong spot lol...I was about to pull into Niki's grandfathers spot. Oops...my bad. He was totally cool about it though. I was a lil early and walked into the machine shop. The gentleman right at the front I asked for Nichole and he said the office was through the door to my right. I walked in and was again greeted by a nice lady behind the desk answering calls. I told he I'm here to see Nichole and that I was early. I've been doing nothing but driving it seems and 30 miles equals up to an hour and a half like minimum. So I left like 2 hours early so I wouldn't be late. The office has a large stack of industry magazines and a pictures on the wall of awards, movies with their equipment on sets. It instantly felt comfortable.

So Niki arrives(this is what her friends and family call her-so hopefully I can get away with referring to her by her nickname throughout this post). At this point I'm having a back and forth convo with a good friend of mine in Texas via text and didn't notice her till she said Hello Ryan. Wow yup there's Niki...granted it's been like a decade she's all grown up. She greeted me with a big smile. She says ok...you ready...let's go. I'm like ok cool. She gets us some safety glasses since the Tour was going to start next door in their Machine Shop. If you follow my Instagram you'll see me refurbishing an old Elemack Spyder dolly and my Pops friend helped me rebuild a missing column. So I've been around his friends machine shop. Their machine shop where they design, build, test, and maintain the equipment they build is second to none. More impressive is everything they build...they build it right there in the USA in the Head Quarters in North Hollywood. Omg...I was blown away by the state of the art Machinery. Niki was so knowledgeable with absolutely everything. She literally took me to every building throughout. Showing me how they've taken gears and now use newer lighter metals, introducing me everyone behind every phase of the process to the guy assembling the guts of their dollies, to a passing engineer he stops and says hello and we have a brief convo. I get to see the big camera trucks you'll see on hit Television shows like Bones, the mini dollies custom built that you'll see on the sideline at the Superbowl, Hydraulic powered Camera Trucks, Massive AirBag suspension to handle the weight but keep the ride smooth, down to the dollies across from their machine shop that house a ton of the dollies you might be familiar seeing behind the scenes of every type of motion picture-just look at the credits as I do and you'll see Chapman/Leonard on tons of them(as you can see in the photo of Niki and me with Chapman/Leonard in the background. Track wheels, track for days, curved track, straigh track, accessories for anything you can think of they have or as she states...we custom build. Our customers come back to us with Feedback and we respond by making updates to build exactly what they want. Again everything is built under one roof here in NoHo...or should I say many roofs. Their Head Quarters spans are very impressive footprint...She must have taken me through half a dozen buildings.

I have to say probably the most impressive guy I met(or at least I had the most time to talk to who is typically working out in their New Orleans Office so I was lucky he happened to be in Hollywood on my tour)was a Gentleman named David Bullard who works with their Remote Systems and is a Technician/Driver an expert with products like the Hydrascope. The Hydrascope is massive(one was on display for me to checkout)...this thing is the Real Deal. It's a very impressive Hydraulic Telescoping Crane but it's unique. One it's running on batteries(24v DC I believe referencing their latest 2016 Catalog)so you don't need a 240v hookup for example. It can be operated both on Land and Actually underwater. This is unique to Chapman/Leonard(the ability to have the camera/head be completely submerged underwater with their own specialty configuration). Of course your camera will need to be protected like any underwater camera system but they have a special head that's waterproof if I understood David correctly(of course you can easily call Chapman/Leonard for exact capabilities and specs)so please refer to them before planning on using any specialty high end equipment like their Hydrascope or any of their other studio equipment offerings.

Finally the last room Niki shows me is housing the really cool MiniScope 5...which gives me hope lol...I mean hopefully I will have this running on the set of my dream film I have in the works. I'll pray that works out. So what's unique is it's small lighter form factor. Till only recently the only cranes where very large and too expensive for the smaller budget indie films or other various tighter budgetrs. Like she states our tools help you achieve shots with such movement and precision just not duplicated compared to all these new filmtools like drones, mini handheld gimbals, micro dollies, and cranes(not saying those are equally valuable but their tools have been tried and true for the Master for Decades...literally Decades-like 7 to be exact. Granted they've really supported the mega hit movies and television shows we all watch and love...but for the smaller budgets and indie films this is the next level for your shots. They have two flavors the Microscope 5 and the 7. They happened to have a 5 on the floor when I was on the tour. If your not familiar with their telescoping cranes what makes this one unique is that it's light and compact(compared to their massive 73' Hydrascope typically seen on Big Productions), comes ready to use due to it's simple quick setup, with three adjustments on post to change back lengths by 0", 5", 10". Miniscope can be setup with your choice of Remote Head(up to 50 lbs.)including Chapmans' CL Head. It can be Electrically or Manually Telescopic. Hand held "Pickle" allows easy control of ramping, speed as well as start and stops. Also built in end stops prevent sudden and adrupt movement so your shots are money. It can be operated by single man/women operation or conventionally. The rear control handle bar allows convenient placement of monitors or remote controls for he head. The Miniscope 5 is Chapmans' smallest telescoping arm so ideal for an indie filmmaker like myself(but they also have it's bigger brother the Miniscope 7 for more reach and abilities). It includes a 30 Volt DC Chapman Battery. Also AC/DC Converter included so your have maximum flexibility. Of course it accepts Standard Mitchell Mounts. It's compact size is ideal for passing through doorways 28" because of it's compact design built for small spaces(but it's Not just for the smaller productions it's for any production really it's just in a lighter compact form factor at a lower to employ cost).
 Lastly I should mention that Chapman/Leonard is Global and is in all the major markets in the United States so they are not just supporting Hollywood California. You can find them trailblazing in booming markets like Texas both in Austin/Atlanta Goergia, New Orleans Louisiana , Albuquerque New Mexico, oversees in London England, as well as their Studios and Production Center in Orlando Florida where they have 3 State of the Art Sound Stages.

I'll leave a link to their website below so you can learn all about Chapman/Leonard and feel free to give them a call for all your Studio Equipment needs. It very much felt like a tight family Network over there. All you have to do is look at their Contact Page and you'll see a lot of familiar last names. For example Annette who I met like a decade ago is still with Chapman...so it was nice to see familiar faces. I can only imagine that warm feeling translates to what pride they take supporting our industry. I have to say it's extremely rare to see family generation after generation taking a company into the future like Niki now all grown up working with family. There's nothing better out there...American made...and great people behind the product equals Priceless and so rare to see today...a real honor to get the Vip Tour..!

Thanks for everything Niki and everyone who was so nice and gracious with their time to talk with me yesterday and show me around..!

Contact:

Equipment Rental Agency · North Hollywood
Address: 12950 Raymer St, North Hollywood, CA 91605
Website:
http://www.chapman-leonard.com/

Social:

Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzdW2JUBD-tUVo_lxRxJ0RA

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/chapmanleonard

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/chapman_leonard/
Photo Credit:
Chapman/Leonard ~ Google
Nichole Huenergardt ~ IMDB


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Meeting Hector Aka: NoelG of The Fast and The Furious...Gangster turned Godster..!


Last night I had the opportunity to meet Noel Guglielmi aka Hector from the Mega Hollywood Fast Franchise or better known The Fast and The Furious at his church Praise Chapel Whittier in Whittier California. NoelG is best known for starring in the Hit Film back in 2001 where he plays Hector who organizes the race between Paul Walker (Brian O'Conner) and Vin Diesel (Dominic Toretto) which was later interrupted by police in the scene. It was a first for the genre with Fast cars, Hot women, and around Criminal activities. Speaking of criminal activities...NoelG went on to star in many more films some even as the character Hector portraying similar characters typically as a Gangster or Gang Banger.

As much as I love NoelG work in tons of films as this hardcore gangster type character I find it was more refreshing to hear his story. At the PCWBlast he talks about his past. How fame hit him so big after the Fast and Furious movie he was almost completely lost...like how does one deal with all the attention, the money, the girls...but to take it back to his roots on how he actually got into the film industry it all started I guess with a Taco Bell commercial. After years bouncin around since as he said at age 13(or maybe it was 15)his parents put $500 in his hand and said split. He then lived on the streets, parks, sleeping anywhere he could. Couch to couch he met a girl who brought him in. Introduced him to God if I recall. He said he was more concerned to please her and did anything to be able to have a place to stay including as people call it Dirt..! In all this one day he was in an acting class acting up or acting out interrupting the class crackin jokes there happened to be a producer there and liked how funny he was and offered him a chance to be in a taco bell commercial. It ended up on rotation daily for up to a year and he was getting royalty checks. Enough that he was able to support himself. Since he liked the money and thought this is pretty cool...he asked for more opportunities and he got them. He actually talks about being the guy doing like the training videos employees would watch when they get hired. Over time he began doing more roles in films but the big break was The Fast and The Furious which really put him on the map. After that he blew up so to speak...you can check out his IMDB and he today has well over a 150 credits mostly portraying again a tough guy, gang related type cast character.

So how does this lead to me getting to meet him at a church in Whittier. Well as he puts it no matter how much money he made(getting his first big ass check-like real money from the first Fast movie)he still felt empty. He felt lost. No VIP parties, money, girls or fame really fulfilled him. He ended up going full circle back to doin dirt. He actually said his needs became so big he and his homies planned a robbery(and this is after he was in a bunch of major hollywood movies)and they pulled it off without getting caught. It's like you can have it all and your still not fulfilled. So basically after years of not feeling fulfilled with having it all...he realized it was because of how he saw himself. He became something he didn't really want to be. I can tell this guy is a good guy behind all the Gangster image. He seemed like he was actually pretty cool and nice...ha...right...geez I hope so right lol. No but seriously. It's not everyday you get to hear the word from the bible from a more colorful gangster type look and spoken word. It's like this guys has something you know...like a really cool persona and the way he talks that gets your attention(nothing like me in Sunday School or in Mass at my Private Catholic School-very dry no real humor a kid my age could relate to from a Priest who's like 70 speaking to us like we live in the last century). I was glued to his every move, the way he paced around the stage speaking gospel, talkin to the youth in such a way that wasn't hey you did this wrong go say a bunch of hail mary's and you'll be cool. This is a whole new generation they are gettin all kinds of stuff filling their smart phones, tablets, at school on the tv they are constantly being fed the images of the let's say the Mtv generation. You know the glitz, the bling...like all the rap videos flossin. I mean it works...kids dig nice things like anyone else. So he's more or less like yo...that's cool and all but it's not enough...at least for him it's wasn't-he's lived it all, had it all and lost it all and came back to have it all again but this time or should I say around 2008...he found Jesus Christ...God. Having access to anything and everything...nothing fulfilling him but God his faith, his wife, his beautiful kid...he began to realize what was really important to him and that now centered around his faith in God which helped him become a better Hector, a better Dad, Husband...overall just loving himself. So much so he's out there sharing his story in churches all over the country and right here in SoCal every Tuesday at the Praise Chapel Whittier. Without going much deeper or acting like I'm trying to push God on any of my readers...the thing is. It's not for everyone...but all I can say is...or he said. His life has been a lot more positive with God in his life than it ever was without. I understand it myself. I grew up myself with many challenges that most people have no clue about. I have my faith that I never push it on anyone but it's there. Don't get me wrong I'm no saint but having something you believe in a higher power than ones self...sometimes it's all anyone needs. I can't tell you how to live your life and maybe NoelG can't either...but if you like the characters he plays or the Fast franchise I say it can't hurt to give the guy a look. He's very entertaining to watch on screen and equally entertaining speaking the word of God. I'd say this guy is One In a Million...No Doubt..!

I'm going to leave some links below that might help you learn more about NoelG and his movement he calls Godsterz which includes a Production Company making Christian Films(it would certainly be a dream to work with him one day if you happen to read this NoelG;), a clothing line with the more street look your used to seeing him play but with phrases like 'Straight Out Godster' or 'Don't Be a Paper Chaser Be a God Chaser'. I dig it...I mean I grew up listening to NWA, Ice Cube, Ice T. The lyrics are not for kids yet I was a kid listening to it. Though the fact I grew up going to Private Catholic School till a tragedy happened to my family and they had to pull me out since they could no longer afford it...silly me I'd change the cuss words into something more appropriate since my mom was against the language and to this day(I have to say my words are a bit more colorful as my tweets etc-I've even had people Stop following me cause of the way I speak or talk-ok only one person and they ended up following me again from a new account(like YO YO YO Wazup...yada yada...so I too have my persona but's it's just a reflection of my life...thankfully a lot more guided thanks to my folks who kept me in line)-it's just cause of the environment I grew up near a ghetto for a hot second then my family moved us up by our church which was also my private school as soon as they could afford and it took me years to figure myself out always feeling poor or not good enough compared to the Rich Kids my peers...but my roots are very hood like...like when I was 5...don't laugh...I'm serious(let's just say I was so out there that I actually Failed First grade after being on the wrong side of town-that I'm sure wasn't cool for my folks who were paying a large tuition for me to be there-one example my very first day of Private School all the big kids 8th graders got into a big fight on the playground and for some reason I jumped in...like it was the kind of crazy stuff going on in my hood...I had all these big ass kids lined up outside my 1st grade room and lil ol me...seriously had to sit in the chair in front of the Principal...ya I got in trouble...wasn't a great way to introduce myself to my school-the priest a Vietnamese used to call me Lil Devil...hello...thank God I got out soon enough and got around a completely different lifestyle I'm proud to say I was able to get a good education thanks to my folks who against all odds manged to some how. So for me...yes I thank God my folks worked their ass off to get me into a better life and circles compared to most in my early neighborhood never made it anywhere-no hope for them...they could only see what opportunity was around them and let's just say it wasn't a positive one. My pops followed his dreams to be a professional photographer and I grew up in his shadow working since I was 10 years old with him((we are extremely close and I'm very close to my family))...it taught me to value people, money, my beliefs and values. So long of the short...it's cool to connect with a dood who has that gangster image but with his fame can use that to leverage it to get his Godsterz message out.

Go get it..!

NoelG Social Links...

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/NoelGuglielmi/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/noelgugliemi

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/actornoelg/

His Clothing Line:
http://godsterz.website/

If you'd like to check out where NoelG speaks the word of God please support his movement over at 

Praise Chapel Whittier | PCWBlast
 
https://www.facebook.com/blastbringinglifeandsalvationtoday/

Disclamer:
I'm in no way getting anything from NoelG to post this and my faith and my beliefs are my own(in fact it took me three hours to drive in from Malibu where I'm staying and I gave the ministry a few bucks donation because I believe in what they are doing is all)...I am just a passionate guy and I feel this guy is too...I got the opportunity to meet him last night and get my photo taken with a cool celebrity. I just walked right into the church like any of you can and learned about it via his Instagram page. I just happened to be down here for some meetings and an Expo called Siggraph...and saw this as an opportunity to meet him. I'm a fan of his work and only recently learned he was a Godster...I certainly had no idea based on his image and character he plays in roles in Hollywood Films. I will say...it was an honor to meet him and I even ended up on his Facebook page of our photo together and the church instagram started following me after I posted our pic(of course I followed back). I'll leave a couple pics. :)

NoelG speaking to the Youth at his PCWBlast Movement at Whittier Church his family attends
 Above NoelG and Youth after an Ice Bucket challenge at PCWBlast Tuesday Night Worship...
 Above NoelG takes time to talk to everyone and the backdrop is a where you can get a photo...
 Above Ryan Brown Aka: Filmguy & Actor/Godster NoelG in a photo opp after Worship..!