Ron Faiola's Production ScheduleOnce the idea of the supper club documentary was decided on, the work starts.
The process breaks down into three parts: pre-production (research, make list of possible places, letters to places, making arrangements for travel, filming, etc.), production (travel & filming) and post-production (log footage, editing, music, etc.).
Here's the schedule of work that was done in 2010.
Pre-ProductionApril, May 2010
Started researching supper clubs around the state, eventually narrowed the big list from 40 to 25. Sent letters to the 25, ended up with 15 (14 made the final cut).
Here are some places that didn't make it for one reason or another:
The very unique Gobbler Supper Club in Johnson Creek has been closed for some years but I talked to the owner and realtor trying to sell the place. Found out the interior might not have much left, but wanted an interview with owner. Didn't happen.
The Pyramid Supper Club in Beaver Dam had closed, but has an interesting exterior.
A place up north. The owner of a popular Northwoods supper club seemed annoyed by my request to film. She also wanted to know who told me to call her.
One place we did film at didn't make the final cut, there just wasn't good material and as it turned out, they went out of business some months later.
Overall, some places didn't respond to the letters, some were left out because of bad reviews, some places were for sale so I didn't use them. The places that made the final list were unique, popular and enthusiastic about the documentary. Incidentally, none of the supper clubs paid any money to appear in the film. I've been asked that question a few times, even by the owners. Production funding was through my own video production company Push Button Gadget Inc. (and my VISA card) and a portion was also supplied by Capital Brewery's Supper Club Beer (many thanks to them!).
Some places I was able to visit before filming:
June 16 MADISON Old Fashioned B-roll (no interviews), Tornado (photos).
This trip to Madison was originally planned to deliver the master tape of "Fish Fry Night Milwaukee" to Wisconsin Public Television, so I included a visit to the Tornado and The Old Fashioned, both on either side of the Capitol Building and within walking distance of each other.
I had a 2:00pm appointment with Robert Miller at the Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned is open for lunch and dinner, and even in the late afternoon, the place was busy. Robert and I talked about the film and he agreed to a future interview. I happened to bring my video camera so I shot some footage while there.
Afterwards, I went over to the Tornado and had a brandy old fashioned at the bar, plus a look around the place. The bartender was friendly and there was a woman next to me who ordered a steak and asked if I wanted some of it, so I tried a few bites and it was amazing. I even got to sample the giant onion ring which adorned the top of the steak. Later I spoke to the hostess, I gave her my contact info to give to the owner (Henry Doane). Took a few photos of the block that the Tornado is on.
June 22 RACINE HobNob (photos).
Took a nice sunny drive to the HobNob in Racine (not Racine actually, some say the town of Somers, others claim Mt. Pleasant, either way, close enough). Found the sign that people drive from miles away to photograph. Stopped in the bar for a beer and took some photos of the place. Gave the hostess my contact info for the owner Mike Aletto.
ProductionFilming begins at 15 places.
June 25 MADISON Tornado (all footage).
Henry Doane had contacted me and we arranged for today's shoot: kitchen cooking scenes and Henry's interview for 1PM then back at 5PM for busy restaurant shots. Shot until about 7:30PM.
June 30 MILTON Buckhorn (all footage).
On June 16, on the way to Madison, I called Chico Pope at the Buckhorn and we scheduled a shoot for his upcoming lobster boil on June 30. On June 30 I drove down to Milton on a perfect day. Arrived at 3PM for interviews and kitchen b-roll. Dinner scenes (and a cold Supper Club beer)were scheduled for later that day. Originally we had planned on getting a boat ride for some scenes on Lake Koshkonong but summer storms earlier that week smashed the marina and the boat we were going to use, plus The Buckhorn's pier was a few feet under water from all the rain (which you can see in the film -- the photo was taken a year later when the dock was dry).
A note about the lobsters - Dawn Pope mentioned that the "lobsters don't scream" when they're placed in the boiling water but the guys on top do squirm around since they're not completely submerged. You can see that in the film.
MONTH BREAK FOR BAD WEATHER & EAA EVENT. Hot, humid, storms!
July 27 RACINE HobNob (b-roll).
Mike Aletto had called me back about shooting at the HobNob. We set a date for interviews and kitchen scenes, I went today for b-roll of customers and building. Another nice day.
July 31 RACINE HobNob (interviews).
Another beautiful day, did interview with Mike, got scenes of the chef preparing the prime rib, something people don't get to see.
August 22 LAKE DELTON Ishnala (pre-production photos).
Last minute decision combine a Cheap Trick concert at the Crystal Grand in Lake Delton with a pre-show visit to Ishnala. Had tried a couple times to contact the owner w/o success. Gave chef Dan Stegall my card and took a couple dozen photos of the place. Another sunny day. Stayed at the charmingly funky but very affordable Malibu Motel in Lake Delton.
Ishnala pre-production photos:
September 2 HANOVER Ding-A-Ling (all footage).
Talked to owner Kyla Wilke and set date for interview. Took another beautiful drive out to the cornfields west of Janesville. Kyla had time for an interview but she had to attend a funeral, so we couldn't do a kitchen demo. After filming, I met my uncle for dinner at the nearby Helgesen's Harpos on Eleven Supper Club. Great drinks and dinner - they had an AYCE crab leg special for $20. Felt like grabbing the camera for some filming, but just had a good night.
September 2 BELOIT Visit Liberty Inn.
After filming at the Ding-A-Ling and dinner at Harpos, I drove down to visit the Liberty Inn in Beloit. My original supper club choice in Beloit was the Gun Club, but it had burned down a few weeks earlier. So I called Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick who lives nearby and he suggested the Liberty Inn. The visit to the Liberty went very well, as owner Casey Singles was behind the bar on what turned out to be a rainy night. Casey recognized my name from my film Fish Fry Night Milwaukee which was a big hit at the Beloit film festival several months earlier. Casey and I set a date for filming and I made the hour drive back to Milwaukee in the rain.
September 8 BELOIT Liberty Inn (all footage).
Another beautiful day for a drive and filming. Got to the Liberty early for interview with Casey and building b-roll. I had invited Bun E. Carlos and his wife Ellen to dinner and they arrived around 5:30pm. We all took a table and ordered dinner with me making a few interruptions for filming our plates, and after dinner an interview with Bun E. For dinner Bun E. ordered the Shepherd's Pie (as seen in the film), Ellen got a nice piece of prime rib and I ordered the shrimp de jonghe. After he and Ellen left to return to Rockford, I shot some kitchen scenes and finally returned to Milwaukee.
THE NORTHWOODS TOUR!
I set up a week-long tour up of the supper clubs that were the furthest away from Milwaukee in order to save gas on doing round trips to each place. September was the perfect time with perfect weather, but all didn't go completely perfect, as you will see. My friend Tracy who had been laid off by MPS, came along to help me with the production.
September 9 MOSINEE Pinewood (all footage).
Our first stop would be in Mosinee to visit Steve and Joan Allen at the Pinewood, however, getting there would prove to be a bit time consuming. I had planned on taking I-94 to Madison, north to 51, but there was construction and a big traffic tie-up in Jefferson county and we ultimately had to backtrack and use another route, making us an hour late. Even so, the interviews, kitchen scenes and b-roll went very well. We also got to sample the cracker crusted walleye and crab stuffed salmon seen in the movie (those are my hands cutting into the fish with knife and fork). After a few hours filming, we drove up to Wausau to spend the night.
September 10 ARBOR VITAE Marty's Place (all footage).
After spending a bad night in a bad hotel (made better with a few good drinks) we drove up to Minocqua for lunch at the Minocqua Brewing Co. for some tasty fried cheese curds and then made our way to Marty's Place North which kind of feels like the middle of nowhere since it's so far north of Woodruff. Once there, Tracy poses with Marty's Axeman Marty's Place North. Note: My original pick was the Norwood Pines in Rhinelander but a couple days before filming, the owner had to cancel due to a funeral (another!).
Marty's was my second choice and it ended up being a good choice indeed. We got there early afternoon for an interview and restaurant b-roll. After we were done filming, we wanted to get a fish fry since it was Friday (and we should have stayed at Marty's). We drove back to the wonderful Island City Inn motel in Minocqua and decided on a pizza from Alexander's. The pizza was good (but a little pricey) and we relaxed in our two comfortable rooms, enjoying the sunset and weather.
September 11 SOUTH RANGE Dreamland (dinner, some interviews).
Left Minocqua for Hayward in a drizzly mist which gave way to sunny skies. After dodging a flock of wild turkeys on the road, (and hoping we wouldn't get lost) we arrived at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame park in Hayward. The entrance fee was a bit steep so we bought some postcards, took a few photos and were on our way to South Range to film some dinner scenes at Dreamland.
Dreamland was hosting a trap-shooting club's annual dinner so there was a huge crowd having drinks and dinner. Got some dinner shots, and a couple interviews at the bar and left for our nearby motel, called the Sleepy Hollow. Wonderful place with very comfortable rooms and down the road was the Riverside Rapids restaurant where we had drinks, fried ham & cheese balls and a pizza. Later I left and got night neon shots of Dreamland and the White Birch sign.
September 12 SOUTH RANGE Amnicon Falls St. Park (b-roll). [credits]
Full day of travel, filming and some bonus tourist stuff.
Breakfast at Riverside Rapids, then into Amnicon Falls State Park. Found the park when I was doing research on the area. It's a wonderful state park with low level rapids and streams. Shot photos and video (used in the film credits) at Amnicon:
After Amnicon, we had time to travel to nearby Duluth, Minnesota for a quick visit. Drove around the city center, up the steep hills, had views of the big ships that load and unload there, plus a stop for a scenic view by a lakeside chocolate shop for postcards and some amazing cashew turtles and a visit to an eclectic Duluth record store (after helping a small bird out).
September 12 SOUTH RANGE Dreamland (b-roll, kitchen, interviews).
Arrived at Dreamland around noon for interviews and kitchen scenes of the deep fried turkey. Also got some footage of a family having brunch.
September 12 SOLON SPRINGS White Birch (all footage). [Not used in film]
Arrived at White Birch around 2PM, did some filming, short kitchen scene (no cooking). Charlie is a great guy, but I just ran out of time while editing so the footage was cut, however that is Charlie's "Mother's Day" comment at the very end of the film.
Drove to Hayward to the Steakhouse and Lodge, a log cabin motel which also included a free steak dinner with each room. We had drinks, appetizers, wine and dinner and our bill was $30 after the discount. Left a big tip, dinner was great. The rooms are huge, with log walls and free WiFi.
September 13 CHIPPEWA FALLS High Shores (all footage).
Checked out of the Lodge, had a late breakfast at Norske Nook. I had a delicious egg, bacon, potato pancake dish topped with a eggs benedict sauce. Hard to pass up the pies on the way out but we had to get to Chippewa Falls.
Arrived early so we stopped at Leinenkugel's brewery for some souvenirs, then on to High Shores. We did the interviews then Denny took us out on Lake Wissota and it was a wonderful day for filming and boating. After kitchen scenes and b-roll, we left to check into our hotel (which was handing out free bottles of Leinenkugel's at the front desk). Did some additional footage at the hotel then decided to go back to High Shores for dinner (without letting Denny or Diane know). Had the alligator appetizer and surf and turf with some wonderful glasses of wine. Denny and Diane weren't there and we weren't recognized as being the film crew until about the middle of the meal, even though we weren't filming. Great meal.
Went back to the hotel and used the pool, felt great.
September 14 MADISON Old Fashioned (interview, food).
Long drive to Madison, where we finished filming at the Old Fashioned, with an interview with Robert. Tried the fresh beer battered cheese curds and "old fashioned" burger. Great stuff.
Finally got back home around 6pm after a long week on the road. Tracy was glad to be back home with her husband Eric and two lovely cats, Mika and Ebi.
September 26 LAKE DELTON Ishnala (all footage).
Robert Prosser had called me the day we left for the "Northwoods Tour" and I had scheduled today for all footage. Arrived early pm to shoot b-roll outside. Bob had arranged for us to tour Mirror Lake on a pontoon boat. After we got back we did interview, kitchen demo (tenderloin, duck), Bob offered me dinner so I had prime rib and prawns (as seen in the movie). Everything was delicious from the fresh baked bread, cheese spread, salad, soup and entree. Drove back to Milwaukee that night, stopping by the Tornado in Madison to get night shots of their neon. Unfortunately they had closed early so no night neon.
October 1 ST. ANNA Schwarz (all footage).
A one-day trip to St. Anna in wonderful fall weather. Had a long day of filming and was offered dinner but my trip home would take about 90 minutes so I asked for a raincheck. Amazing meat cooler.
October 4 FISH CREEK Greenwood (all footage).
A trip to Door County! Haven't been up there in a while. Filmed at the Greenwood, Suzi had the kitchen make the whitefish for the film then I got to have it for dinner and it was amazing. Spent the night in Sister Bay at the Village View Inn. Stopped in at Husby's Food & Spirits for a drink, since it was too late for another fish dinner at the Sister Bay Bowl which I've been told has an amazing fish fry.
Got some scenes of the bay at sunset and in the morning before returning to Milwaukee via Green Bay where I checked out Wally's Spot (great signage) and Eve's Supper Club.
October 6 MILWAUKEE Jackson Grill (all footage).
My original choice in Milwaukee was Dobie's in St. Francis. A 'classic' supper club with relish trays, etc. But after initially agreeing to be in the film, the owner backed out, so I went with what should have been my first choice originally, Jackson Grill.
A hot fall day - temps in the upper 80s, did all footage then Jimmy gave me the baby back ribs to take home and it was wonderful. Amazing tender meat and tasty sauce.
Post-ProductionWith 20 hours of footage, looking through it was a bit intimidating, so I put it off until mid-November, finally creating a 3.5 minute trailer in December for YouTube and to distribute to MPTV, WPT, etc. MPTV loved the trailer and asked to see the final cut (3 minutes is one thing, but now I had to come up with 55 minutes!).
The final cut of the film was done by mid-February. After a few tweaks and minor changes, the film was sent to the DVD pressing plant and broadcast masters were sent for closed-captioning. The DVDs arrived in mid-April, just before the Milwaukee Premiere on April 17. License deals were made with MPTV and WPT and NETA, a nationwide PBS distributor.
June 27: Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience is listed on Amazon.com. The first copy sells within 24 hours.