IFO adds Raul Esparza as assistant managing director

THE ILLINOIS FILM OFFICE hired seasoned location scout Raul Esparza as assistant managing director/location manager, replacing Todd Lizak who officially retired in January.  He was asked to return to the IFO as a 75 day contractual employee to help interview prospective candidates for the vacancy and handle location scouting until his successor was hired.

Esparza brings hands-on professional film experience to the IFO, having started working in production on NBC’s “ER” in 2001. He was assistant location manager on “The Vow,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” “The Merry Gentlemen” among others, and was visual effects location supervisor on “The Dark Knight” and “Public Enemies.” 

“After ‘Public Enemies’ I spent some time in L.A. to get a feel of what L.A. is all about,” he says. “I worked on the Kardashians reality shows, which are very different from scripted shows and where everybody does everything in production.” 

Esparza, a still photographer, handled that role on “Ca$h” and “Formosa Betrayed.” 

Joe Amari, who also retired in January after 18 years with the IFO, had mainly served as the office’s location scout. 

CHANGING TIMES AND PLACES. Agency production veteran Nathalynne McGinnes, who was downsized by Draftfcb when it lost S.C. Johnson, has landed a senior producer’s post at Burrell Communications.  “I love the energy and I love the people here,” she says.  Prior to joining Burrell, she freelanced as a producer.

News of other Draftfcb alums: Justin Frosolone has joined Energy BBDO as creative director on the Alleve account, from Element 79 and Joe Burke landed at Marc USA as executive creative director.

JUNE 19 IS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of Red Car managing director Carrie Holecek being struck by lightning while driving in her brand new Jeep on Interstate 88 heading west to her hometown of Marion, Iowa to visit her family. 

“I even remember the time when I was struck.  It was 6:30 p.m.” she says.  “I momentarily lost sensation from the chin down.

My Jeep was supercharged, the engine set on fire – though quickly extinguished by the rain that fell — and it was completely totaled and towed away.” She was treated by paramedics who quickly arrived on the scene.

The phenomenon was so electrifying that Holecek became fascinated with the area’s extreme weather experiences that she has taken on the role of “Chicago’s Extreme Weather Gal.”

As an example, Holecek posted a report June 20 the first official day of summer when the temperature hit a record 96 degrees.   Follow “Chicago’s Extreme Weather Gal’s” reports on Facebook. 

COMMERCIAL ACTION THIS WEEK: Curious Pictures of New York shoots for the 47 Brand/NFL in Old Town for a day and big AICP winner Hungry Man shoots a huge Marshall’s on location on LaSalle Street and Michigan Avenue, followed by a another shoot later this week for Nike. 

OSCAR WINNING DIRECTOR ALEXANDER PAYNE (“The Descedants,” ”Sideways” )is the special guest at the Saturday, June 23 Greek Film Festival fund raiser at the new Hellenic Museum, where Payne will join in announcing plans for the 2012 festival and the new FilmHellene Awards.

Fletcher’s general manager Zoe Borys, who serves as FilmHellenes’ vice president says, “Alexander is passionate about Hellenism and why the stories of his ancestral roots need to be told.  We are so honored to have him collaborating with us.”

From the FilmHellene event, Payne will head over to the Four Seasons hotel where the Gene Siskel Film Center holds its big annual fundraising gala, honoring Reese Witherspoon.

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