Raw footage for the TV series Chicago Slices. Prop warehouse.
00:00Copy video clip URL B-roll of Warner Bros., Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck paraphernalia. Robert Siveck is being interviewed and is chatting about his interest in collectibles from cartoons. He notes one of his favorites is a piece from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas with a Dr. Seuss signature on it. He says such collectible paraphernalia can go for as little as one hundred dollars all the way to thirty, forty, or fifty thousand.
00:57Copy video clip URL Siveck is joined by Deborah Borsum and the videographer has them introduce themselves. Borsum introduces herself as one of the owners of the Meetinghouse company, handling sales, marketing and special events for corporate clients. Siveck introduces himself as the technical partner. After Borsum promises the client what they’ll do, Siveck figures out how they will do it.
01:31Copy video clip URL Borsum notes they have mostly corporate clients and municipal governments. She says a client will call if they have a special event produced to promote a product or an event. Siveck adds that they provide the sparkle and spectacle.
02:22Copy video clip URL Siveck says that he started producing events about fifteen years ago in the bedroom of his apartment. It’s grown to the point where the company now has a 32,000 foot warehouse, “the world’s largest garage with everything you might imagine.”
03:00Copy video clip URL Borsum says that her background is in marketing for shopping centers, promotions and special events. She says she used to hire Siveck’s company to produce these events. One thing led to another and Borsum took advantage of an opportunity that opened up and became a partner in the company.
03:39Copy video clip URL Borsum says there are fifteen people on staff, some in office support, some in warehouse, some in sales. At Christmastime, she says, everyone decorates. Siveck adds that they also have about sixty-five part-time and contract employees, noting that Christmas is one of their busy times because everything needs to be done in two weeks, and they service multiple city streets, banks, and hotels. He says the lights on State Street need to be up in two days.
04:52Copy video clip URL Borsum says that there aren’t any peak seasons in this business. They are busy all year round decorating for Valentines, Easter, summer corporate picnics, plus the autumn holidays.
05:34Copy video clip URL Borsum and Siveck give a tour of the facility. They walk through the office area into the warehouse.
05:58Copy video clip URL As they enter the warehouse, the videographer cuts and changes position so that he is in the warehouse when they enter. Siveck notes they have in here everything from 6-foot animatronic bears to little buildings. Borsum shows off the Anytown, USA sets, facades of buildings. She notes all their props can be fitted to coincide with any theme the client needs.
06:55Copy video clip URL Siveck says that they don’t really have a catalog and that it’s easier just to take clients on a tour of the warehouse. They have in excess of 90,000 individual pieces in the warehouse.
07:19Copy video clip URL B-roll of a moai, Tiki-style statue of a giant head. Siveck notes that they have snow machines that produce fake snow on cue. At that moment one of the staff starts the machine making it “snow” on camera.
08:04Copy video clip URL They enter the audio visual room where the Linus & Lucy theme music from A Charlie Brown Christmas is playing. They have capabilities of providing audio for small disc jockeys to large festivals. Siveck notes that they provide soundscape using audio effects in the props, making them come alive. In referencing the use of the Linus & Lucy theme song, Borsum says that they play Christmas music a lot and have started early this year to put employees in a festive mood.
09:12Copy video clip URL B-roll of circus-themed cut out figures: a lion and lion tamer, and a strongman.
09:22Copy video clip URL Borsum continues the tour and shows off a picnic game called roller bowler, a stretch of track that rises and falls, creating a valley. The object is to push the bowling ball so that it lands and stays in the top valley. The videographer gives it a try. Borsum shows a scarecrow prop, skeletons.
11:12Copy video clip URL They are introduced to warehouse staff, Steve, who is fixing a carnival game. When asked if the team ever plays with the games during work hours Steve replies, “Well, since my bosses are standing right here I’d have to say never!”
11:57Copy video clip URL Two other employees, Bill and Eric, start playing with the carnival game Steve has just fixed. Siveck says that they want to show for camera a special effect. Bill and Eric show off streamer shooters, a canister powered by a small CO2 cartridge that shoots streamers. They fire two for camera. The videographer investigates the explosion of streamers. Borsum says they cost $150 for two shots.
14:15Copy video clip URL The warehouse tour continues showing the videographer a section of large character cut outs. Siveck shows off 1950s themed characters popular musicians and actors from the era.
15:37Copy video clip URL Siveck shows a section of building facades for a barn, a speakeasy, a newsstand. They note they service primarily the Chicago area but have done some international travel. Some clients will want them to tour the country with them to maintain continuity at various events.
17:00Copy video clip URL Siveck and Borsum note that they don’t really have a lot of competition. There are not a lot of companies doing what they do.
17:35Copy video clip URL Siveck notes that at one point all this was in his bedroom. They show off circus funny mirrors that distort the human figure. Siveck shows off an aisle of column, floral arrangements, cemeteries. When asked what the weirdest thing is they’ve had to create Siveck notes a night golf course using glow-in-the-dark golf balls and set up the course in an office to be played at night. Borsum notes that everything they do is unique. No standard packaging. She shows off pieces that make up a western-style general store and a Mexican market. They say they collect the stuff from friends, people throwing away old items, garage sales.
20:19Copy video clip URL They show an old Pepsi machine found junked. They took it and restored it to use as a prop. They note most of the major sets are professionally designed because they need to be fire treated to meet code to be taken into a hotel ballroom. These are not all things found in someone’s attic.
21:00Copy video clip URL Siveck pulls out a 6-foot pencil and baseball bat. While showing off Tiki-themed items they come upon giant size tools, a wrench and a screwdriver. They show off wagon wheels, cotton bales, hay bales, nautical themed props. Siveck shows that the props are not real, just facades covering a box.
22:51Copy video clip URL They show off a bathtub on wheels. A team member gets in model it.
23:45Copy video clip URL Siveck shows off games and prizes he company offers clients for fun activities at various events. He shows a Wheel of Fortune-style spinning wheel. He shows off a Flamingo themed cafe building. He notes the Flamingo was an old company logo of his.
26:11Copy video clip URL They show off a locker room set. They say they have futuristic theme sets but can’t do a Star Trek set because of licensing and copyright laws.
26:58Copy video clip URL The tour comes upon the company’s Christmas decor including a 22-foot Christmas tree normally displayed at “Skate on State” in downtown Chicago. Siveck says it take six people nine hours to put up. He shows how the tree is assembled: hooks on an inverted ice cream cone.
28:00Copy video clip URL Siveck shows a Chicago Skyline cut out and explains that the faux buildings, as tall as 18-feet, are placed on outlines drawn on a mat that position the buildings to scale as they actually appear in the skyline.
28:40Copy video clip URL Borsum points out boxes of client-owned Christmas decorations in storage. They note they have about 2,500 clients. Some clients only use their services once a year, others host multiple events and parties through the year.
29:30Copy video clip URL They point out a collection of art deco dancing waiters. Borsum mentions that her favorite type of party the company decorates is the Country Western set. For Siveck, his favorite is the 1950s themed party sets.
30:29Copy video clip URL Siveck shows off various Santa chairs, sometimes used for the Easter Bunny. He also points out a collection of animatronic dolls. They note that having animated ornaments and characters differentiates them from any competition.
31:40Copy video clip URL Siveck shows off an 8-foot animated bear. B-roll of the animatronic teddy bear in motion: head turns, toe bends.
32:40Copy video clip URL Borsum shows off various holiday Christmas trees and notes that each tree will be tailor decorated to fit a client’s aesthetic needs.
34:16Copy video clip URL They present their ice fantasy set, an idyllic frozen pond with animated skaters against a cold blue forest background. Siveck notes that a set like this costs tens of thousands of dollars to build and that it is difficult to find skilled artisans to create these animatronic characters because the craft is dying. He also notes that some of their painted backgrounds were done by now-famous artists, but he doesn’t have their names handy.
36:30Copy video clip URL B-roll of the ice fantasy animated set. Ice skaters move in figure 8’s on the ice.
36:59Copy video clip URL They walk past large Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls noting that they use them on Christmas Toyland themed sets along with Santa and elves animated sets. B-roll of Santa’s workshop animated set, elves building toys.
37:57Copy video clip URL B-roll of a giant animated bear in a Santa Claus hat.
38:39Copy video clip URL They come upon several pallets with boxes of holiday lights used to cover the trees on State Street in downtown Chicago. Borsum notes that their clients like to have holiday decorations installed early, but not turned on and activated until closer to holiday time.
41:10Copy video clip URL Siveck notes that they have the nicest job in the world: they celebrate all year long with clients. Borsum acknowledges that the creative people they work with are the ones who make it all happen.
41:58Copy video clip URL B-roll of a giant Tiki-style stone head with glowing red eyes and smoking puffing from its hose. B-roll of an animated mouse in a bakery set. B-roll of a giant gum ball machine. More b-roll of the Tiki head with smoke pouring from its nose and mouth. B-roll of the Eiffel Tower.
43:44Copy video clip URL Interviews with employees who talk about what it’s like to work at Meetinghouse. Eric says it’s never the same thing twice. John, the warehouse manager, says it’s challenging trying to move a mock 727 airplane when you’re 30-feet short. Steve, the refurbishment coordinator, says he repairs props and keeps them looking nice. He notes that the company is high-quality conscious. He also notes that his favorite set is the Mexican market.
46:12Copy video clip URL Employees Margarita and Jean Wilson sit in a park set. They say work here is different each day. There are new people each day. They note that the company is a source of entertainment for clients. Their favorite prop is the Mr. Ravioli.
47:14Copy video clip URL Employee Jennifer says that everyone here is family-oriented and that their clients are nice. Her favorite set is Ice Fantasy. Employee Tami says she is still discovering all the props and sets the company has. That daily discovery is her favorite part of the company. Janine says her favorite prop is the Anytown, USA set, though she also likes all the creativity at the company.
49:00Copy video clip URL Siveck reaffirms that the staff really are like a family, and notes that they are the best in the world. Borsum adds that his work is something you either love or you don’t stay very long.
49:40Copy video clip URL Group shot of Siveck, Borsum and all their employees singing White Christmas as artificial snow falls.
51:21Copy video clip URL END