[Chicago Slices raw : violinist Mihaela Ionescu-Ashkenasi]

Raw footage for the TV series Chicago Slices. This tape features: Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Mihaela Ionescu-Ashkenasi doing a duet with videographer Andrew Jones. Followed by interviews with people working at the building: Masons and dry cleaner Oscar Wassman from Milo Dry Cleaners.

00:00Copy video clip URL Exterior NBC building downtown Chicago. Various establishing shots, zoom out, tilt up.

01:00Copy video clip URL B-roll John Hancock building and surrounding skyline. Various shots of downtown buildings.

01:29Copy video clip URL B-roll of a billboard for a cigarette company.

01:34Copy video clip URL Videographer Skip Blumberg walks down sidewalk shooting his own reflection in the windows of passing buildings. He shoots his own shadow on the ground as he walks and as he passes an outdoor cafe. He shoots his own feet as he walks and hops from one raised planter to the next outside an office building.

03:20Copy video clip URL B-roll of a business employee sitting outside threatening Blumberg if he continues taking his picture.

03:23Copy video clip URL Blumberg walks along the sidewalk with Andrew Jones and Ahdee Goldberg chit chatting. They cross street and walk towards a parking lot. Goldberg says she has to tip the parking lot attendant because he lets her park for free. Jones says of an upcoming shoot that the subjects know that he is a violinist, but don’t know if he’s good or not and the violinist they are shooting today is a very serious violinist. Jones says he’s been practicing since he was 8 years old. Jones says the subject of today’s shoot is a second violinist and part of the objective is to explore the myth of “playing second fiddle” to someone else. Blumberg mocks walking into scaffolding.

05:23Copy video clip URL Jones talks about  the difference between violinists and viola players.

06:28Copy video clip URL B-roll of Jones and Goldberg in parking lot heading to Goldberg’s car. They find the car and pack up to leave.

07:50Copy video clip URL Blumberg shooting from the car as they drive along Lake Shore Drive, without sound.

08:05Copy video clip URL The audio turns on. Continued b-roll of riding along Lake Shore Drive. Blumberg focuses on a colorful hand painted van that is driving along side of them.

08:58Copy video clip URL Jones and Blumberg exit the car at the shooting location, an apartment building. They enter the building and announce their arrival to their subject in her apartment via intercom telephone. They enter the lobby and wait for the elevator talking about how music and video have come together for Jones. He has played with the Baghdad Chamber Music Ensemble in Iraq.

12:00Copy video clip URL They enter Mihaela Ionescu-Ashkenasi’s apartment and meet Mihaela, Diane, and another man. Jones introduces the videographer Skip Blumberg and explains the plan for the shoot. They set up a second camera.

13:46Copy video clip URL Diane says that she doesn’t want to appear on camera. Jones scouts the location and selects a spot for shooting the first interview with Mihaela. The shoot begins. Jones asks Mihaela, “How long have you been playing the violin?” Seven years. She says she’s been in Chicago since 1987. Mihaela notes that she plays second violin section in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mihaela notes that there is a popular misconception of the distinction between first and second violinist. She comments that it is very hard to be a good second violinist. The role of the second is to support the melody coming from the first section. Blumberg’s footage serves as b-roll and cutaways of Mihaela, the violin pin on her blouse, various wide shots and close ups, shots of Jones.

17:30Copy video clip URL Jones points out that the expression “being second fiddle” carries a stigma that’s unfair. Mihaela agrees, saying that second violin is more comfortable for her. She doesn’t have to struggle with the upper lines, with intonation and high positions, the physical discomfort. She says having played in lyric orchestra for opera she noticed a strain on her back as a result of playing a lot on the G-string and accompaniment, “which means slow bow, slow motion. Breathing is difficult. But the in symphonic orchestra it is different. We are in a more comfortable position and we have time to be aware of what’s happening left and right.”

18:29Copy video clip URL The interview ends. Jones prepares to shoot Mihaela playing the violin. Blumberg stops and starts shooting b-roll of Mihaela during this exchange.

20:00Copy video clip URL Mihaela starts playing the violin accompanied by a man playing piano. Blumberg shoots various b-roll of Jones shooting Mihaela, of Mihaela and the pianist playing, and of the surrounding environment: her apartment.

21:11Copy video clip URL The piece ends. Jones says he wants to shoot and opening for this episode of Chicago Slices with Mihaela finishing her piece and saying to camera: Welcome to Chicago Slices. The videographer make notes to the editor not to use the first take of the music recording at Mihaela’s request.

22:14Copy video clip URL Mihaela and the pianist start playing the piece again. They mess up and start over.

22:58Copy video clip URL They start a third time, but soon stop. They begin a fourth time.

23:40Copy video clip URL Jones comforts and relaxes Mihaela. The videographer stops and re-starts shooting. Mihaela begins playing the piece a fifth time and reads her line at the end.

25:36Copy video clip URL B-roll of Jones shooting a sixth take of Mihaela’s performance. Blumberg’s coverage is from a different angle across the room. More b-roll of the environment: porcelain figurines, music themed trinkets, books, furniture.

27:22Copy video clip URL Mihaela asks to record the intro again.

28:05Copy video clip URL Jones prepares to play a duet with Mihaela. He asks Blumberg to use his camera.

28:26Copy video clip URL Interview with Mihaela. “Whose idea was it for you to play violin?” “Well, I grew up in Romania and I have to say that it would have been very difficult for my parents to buy me a piano. It was easier to buy a violin.” She adds that there was a good violin teacher in the neighborhood, so choosing a violin to play made sense. Jones has her state what she plays: second violin in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Blumberg shoots various b-roll of Mihaela’s interview and of two figures outside in a neighboring park preparing to chalk outline an athletic field.

31:10Copy video clip URL Mihaela plays a Veracini piece while Blumberg records various b-roll of Mihaela’s apartment: the kitchen, views of Wrigley Field from the window, various framed photos.

31:58Copy video clip URL Mihaela takes Jones’ video camera and shoots. Blumberg jokes with Goldberg about the noise her shoes make on the hardwood floor.

32:34Copy video clip URL Jones and Mihaela talk about how the segment will be edited.

33:28Copy video clip URL B-roll of workers in a park across the street chalking an athletic field.

34:16Copy video clip URL The crew prepares to leave Mihaela’s apartment. They arrange to give the PR officer, Diane, a ride and Goldberg announces they have to stop for a birthday cake and ice cream on the way.

34:57Copy video clip URL Exterior b-roll of Mihaela’s apartment building. Masonry workers are high above on a balcony. Various shots.

35:39Copy video clip URL Interview with some of the masonry workers outside the building. They say they are working on the 15th floor. Blumberg says he’s shooting for Chicago Slices. One notes that he’s seen the show. They talk about the work, the scaffolding. B-roll of the scaffold descending. Blumberg notes the scaffolding squeaks. B-roll of the crew on the ground watching. The scaffold lowers to the ground and the crew helps maneuver it into position.

40:11Copy video clip URL The mason crew banters about a possible power shortage in the scaffold’s hoist. They check. More of the crew ask why Blumberg is shooting. Blumberg says it’s for channel 50. The crew mention some of their favorite shows seen on that station: Montel Williams, Star Trek, Benny Hill.

42:20Copy video clip URL A crew member wrapped in a harness says they are masons, bricklayers, and pointers. He shows the videographer a pile of concrete rubble and restoration that’s come off the building they’re repairing. He shows how the iron has rotted due to water exposure. The man notes that the masons who ride up on the scaffolds and work on tall skyscrapers are call Sky Climbers. He says he’s been working on this building since 1984, but he also works on other buildings. He notes that he is Irish and came to America in 1978. The videographer focuses on his hands, cut and blackened from the concrete. They joke that he uses Irish Spring soap to clean his hands. The man adds that sometimes it’s so windy they can’t work up on the scaffold.

45:08Copy video clip URL When asked about his shooting the masons, Blumberg responds that he has no plan and that he was just walking around to see if he could find something to shoot. The Irishman and his work mate say that the steel in this building has deteriorated. “It’s one of the worst buildings we’ve ever worked on.” The water leaks had never been taken care of. Blumberg is shocked that a high end Lake Shore Drive apartment building is in such condition. They note that the penthouse in this building sells for 1.5 million dollars.

46:57Copy video clip URL The Irishman notes that he lives near Midway Airport. He and his workmate, his buddy, have been working together since 1982 or 83. They note that they will do back up on the scaffold and stay up until about 3pm. They say that if they’re very busy they will eat lunch up there. It takes about 10 minutes to raise and lower the scaffold 15 stories. They note that the motor they’re using in the scaffold hoist is new and that they are trying to familiarize themselves with it.

48:56Copy video clip URL The two crew members note that it is scary up there when the wind blows hard. They say once it was so windy, the scaffolding they’d left dangling over the side of the building blew up and onto the roof over night. This leads to comments about health insurance. Blumberg asks the Irishman what he thinks of Clinton’s plan for health insurance. The man thinks it’s a good plan and notes that he just got married last October and has a new baby boy. Their supervisor enters and asks the guys for help with the scaffold hoist motor.

50:05Copy video clip URL The crew confers over the hoist. They work on the motor.

51:30Copy video clip URL A man delivering dry cleaning approaches and enters the building. The videographer follows asking the man if he’s like to be on TV. The man smiles and makes his delivery, talks with the doorman, and delivers to various apartments.

52:50Copy video clip URL The dry cleaner, an older man, enters the elevator. He notes that he’s lived in Chicago his whole life and has lived in West Rogers Park 41 years. He likes that area because it’s close to Evanston which is an integrated area. He thinks the integration is working, people are getting along. He knocks on the door of a customer’s apartment. A doctor. He says to the videographer that he’s been in business 43 years and that he retired in 1986 but came back in 1987. The dry cleaners is his own business. He makes his own deliveries.

55:36Copy video clip URL The dry cleaner is back in the elevator. He notes that this apartment building is a landmark building. The doorman in the lobby, Pablo, notes that has worked in the building 14 years. He is originally from Manila in the Philippines and has been in Chicago since 1969.

56:40Copy video clip URL The building’s engineer enters and chats friendly with Pablo and the dry cleaner. When asked about all the repairs the mason crew is making, the engineer assures the videographer the building is sound and safe.

57:15Copy video clip URL The engineer and the doorman give permission to be videotaped. The dry cleaner says that he is from Milo Cleaners, the only Milo Dry Cleaners registered in Chicago. His name is Oscar Wassman. The name Milo is an amalgam of his name and the name of his wife, Mildred. B-roll of the three men fraternizing in the lobby.

58:26Copy video clip URL B-roll of the masons outside, testing the scaffold motor. They try and start the hoist, but the motor won’t turn.

59:23Copy video clip URL The motor starts and the scaffold rises then stops. The crew fix a snag and continue the ascent. B-roll, various shots, of the scaffold rising.

01:02:37Copy video clip URL B-roll of the crew’s truck which has a sign on it: Grove Masonry Maintenance.

01:02:41Copy video clip URL The videographer starts talking with the dry cleaner outside about the city’s fast-changing weather, but the tape ends mid-conversation.

01:03:01Copy video clip URL END



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