REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 2/7/04

“BARBER SHOP 2” BENEFIT MAKES THE CUT. Columbia College alums and “Barber Shop 2” producers George Tillman (left) and Bob Teitel (third from left) join college president Dr. Warrick Carter and film/video department chair Bruce Sheridan at the pre-release reception and screening last week at Piper’s Alley. The event raised $25,000 for the school’s Open Door scholarship program for minority high school graduates. Columbia College enrolls more African-American students in its film program than all other arts colleges in the U.S. combined.

SHORT AIRS ON “IMAGE UNION.” Bob Hercules’ short film, “The Last Frontier,” will air on Ch. 11’s “Image Union,” Feb. 20 at 10:30 p.m. The winner of the 2001 IFP Flyover Zone Film Festival, “Frontier” is a dark satire of the relentless commercialization of our culture where homeless people are forced to “sell” their forehead space for corporate advertising. William Dick stars (he has a lead in “The Company”). Hercules wrote and directed, and produced with Lisa Wolff. DP was Keith Walker. “The Last Frontier” is also currently airing on the Independent Film Channel.

NEW SOUND LOCATION. Scott Smith’s Chicago Audio Works has a new location at 1644 N. Honore, #301, after leaving its 676 N. LaSalle facilities. “We still provide the most extensive production sound services locally, as well as in Los Angeles,” said Smith, operating out of a 2,000-square foot production warehouse, just as it has for seven years. “We still maintain all the equipment related to that part of our operation,” Smith said. While business has dropped off significantly in the past three years due to the decline in feature production, “there is still a smaller market that should be supported locally,” he added. Phone, 312/337-8282.

VIGGO ACTION. Actor Viggo Mortensen was in town Friday for video interviews with local media stars to promote his upcoming “Hildalgo” movie. We learned that King Viggo, who started the day at 5:15 a.m., sips his herbal tea from a terra cotta cup through an ever-so-elegant silver straw. Cameraman was John Wassel for Film & Tape Works’ client John Iltis.

“OCEANS 12” TO FILM HERE. The movie starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts plans on filming in Chicago and surrounding areas for one to three weeks in April. And here’s a twist: Just as Toronto substitutes for Chicago, Chicago will substitute for New York, a big money-saver for the production.

McDONALD’S CORPORATE BACK? Looks like McDonald’s corporate training business has come back after a long dry spell. O’Connor Casting’s David O’Connor definitely sees a trend. He cast some 30 actors in three or four videos alone in January for McDonald’s Creative Services. Could be part of the chain’s overall improvement push, confirmed by U.S. restaurant sales up 13.4%, aided, add the experts, by the new “I love it” campaign.

SPLIT PILLOW REACHES OUT. Jason Stephens, founder of non-profit Split Pillow to foster and market improv film as a distinct Chicago art form (see story below) is looking for filmmakers to participate in Split Pillow’s outreach project, whereby participants go to a suburban school to make a film with students. There is a stipend. Call Stephens at 773/529-5074.