David O’Shield – Filmmaker Perspective

David o'shieldsLate last week Kirk and I visited with University of Northern Iowa filmmaker-in-residence, David O’Shields to talk about documentary film making and to get his perspective on our new movie.

“David is an award winning, internationally respected documentary filmmaker and has been a working member of the production community since 1985.  In addition to his work in public television, he has extensive experience as a cameraman and director in commercial television.” (Source: UNI).

In addition to being a successful independent filmmaker, David directs the William and Stephanie Clohesy Documentary Film Series.  Last week my son and I had the pleasure to attend the screening of Lucy Walker’s Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom at UNI and learn first-hand about her experience making this movie.

Kirk and David have been friends for many years and for me getting the chance to talk one-on-one with David was a real pleasure.  We were particularly interested in learning more about the business side of making successful independent films and David was able to provide us with some great insights.   Thank you, David, for being so generous with your knowledge!

Cheers,
Brad

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Say When???

WineDiamonds_PourWe’re making fantastic progress on our film (Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™) and are grateful for your support and encouragement.  So far we’ve spent well over 60 hours in the field filming all kinds of winery and vineyard activities.  Our plan is to continue to film throughout the fall, winter, spring and next summer.  Each time we shoot a reel of film we review it, code the content (so we can select the best segment, but also to code the content so we can find it later), and continue to think about what we’re learning.  After all our film isn’t scripted, rather we have a basic idea of what we want to learn but are also open to the opportunities that present themselves as we film.

Our goal is to launch a fundraising campaign to help us pay for all this travel and the costs associated with a year-long filming project.  We’ll have lots of great gifts for those who give….so, please keep us in mind and share our website and Facebook page with your wine friends.

Thanks,
Brad

Eagles Landing Winery

My wife, Jill, and I made an impromptu visit to Eagle’s Landing Winery (Marquette, IA) last weekend on our way for a quick camping get-away.  As one of the six wineries we’ll be following over the year it was a pleasure to reconnect with the winery owners, Jay & Cindy.  Eagles Landing Winery’s winemaker Jay Halvorson was selected as the 2013 Iowa Winemaker of the Year after re-sampling their wines it is clear why he earned this important distinction — consistent delicious wines!

Though we were unannounced and Jay was in the middle of bottling some of his famed “Campfire Hootch,” a blend of several types of fruit wine, he paused and gave us a tasting from one of his new wines, direct from the tank.  It’s a red wine made from Iowa Marechal Foch, Frontenac and to round out the flavor profile a little Syrah.  Probably one of the very best dry red wines I’ve ever tasted in Iowa…hell, just a great red wine no matter where you are!

After a tour and taste in the cellar he took us out front to the tasting room where he proceeded to give us several delicious samples of wine.  Both Jay and Cindy are such incredible hosts and are the kind of people who really take care of their customers.  Eagles Landing Winery in Marquette, IA (only blocks from the Mississippi River) — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!
Seasonal wine (Oktoberfest) coming soon!

Corridor Business Journal – First to Report on Wine Diamonds!

Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ crew (Brad & Kirk) interview Fireside Winery winemaker, Zach Bott during annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.
Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ crew (Brad & Kirk) interview Fireside Winery winemaker, Zach Bott during annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.

The Corridor Business Journal, serving the business news needs of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, met with Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked™ in the early morning hours at Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard during their first harvest weekend.  Reporter (Angie Holmes) observed the crew filming, met with winery owners and volunteer pickers, and chatted with us.  A week later the Wine Diamonds team met again with Angie Holmes (CBJ) for an in-depth interview at the offices of Monkeytown in Vinton.

We’re grateful for being noticed so early by the Corridor Business Journal and hope you enjoy the article:  Click to Read.

Cheers,
Brad

Come Fly with Me!

Being avid winery/vineyard fans and movie-makers one of the things we quickly decided we wanted for this film was to fly a drone over some vineyards.  There is a magical sensation you get from watching footage taken from a drone (or helicopter) as it buzzes over a vineyard and last night our hopes came to fruition.  We arrived at the vineyard around 5:30pm, took a walk around the Fireside Winery’s Brickyard Hill Vineyard to familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land, set up the monitor and transceiver, and fired up the four-propeller drone.   A nice, new Go-Pro camera was mounted on the gimbals connected to the drone which allowed us to move the camera, in flight, and to give us a very crisp and smooth filming experience — no vibration at all!

Our skilled drone pilot (Jeff) accommodated our long list of must-have shots and was incredibly adept at capturing each of them.  From slowly walking behind the drone as it flew 5 feet above the ground between rows (not an easy task for a pilot) to flying it on 1/4 mile trips that took the drone over trees and over farm fields and out of sight.   We periodically reviewed the awe-inspiring footage back at the car.  Incredible!   Can’t wait to share it.  In the mean time here are a few behind-the-scenes photos I took last night.  You can visit our Wine Diamonds Facebook album to see more.

Please share us with your friends and follow us on Facebook.  Thank you!

~Brad

Drone pre-flight checks
Drone pre-flight checks
Slowly walking behind the drone down a vineyard row
Slowly walking behind the drone down a vineyard row
Flying low and slow over the vineyard.
Flying low and slow over the vineyard.

Photo Album Update

Hey All,

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve finally gotten around to posting a photo album of day of filming at the Mid-American Wine Competition.  You can access the photos on our Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Thanks for supporting our movie…and tonight we’re flying a drone over a nearby vineyard at sunset.  Can’t wait!!

Anonymous wines are partitioned behind a screen during judging.
Anonymous wines are partitioned behind a screen during judging.

Tassel Ridge Winery – Marquette Harvest

I’ve never been called a morning person before but more and more often I’m waking up for early morning shoots.  Actually, there is something special about these early morning filming opportunities and yesterday our alarm clocks woke us up before 2am for a trip to Tassel Ridge Winery.

The owner, Bob Wersen, and his staff have been incredibly patient and helpful as we’ve tried to coordinate our two schedules.  Grapes are ready to harvest when they are ripe and have no consideration for our busy schedules, but fortunately, yesterday, the grapes were perfectly ripe and schedules were open.  So, it was with a bowl of cereal in our bellies that we left Benton County and drove for nearly two hours to reach the Meadowcreek Vineyard of Tassel Ridge Winery.  Located just north of Oskaloosa, Iowa (south east of Des Moines) the vineyard takes up more than 9 acres of land surrounding Mr. Wersen’s Interpower business.

A bright moonlit night sky welcomed us to the vineyard and the crew was already busy harvesting.  Tassel Ridge Winery has one of only a few mechanical harvesters in the region and we had amazing access to their operation.  We set up our cameras and began shooting night time footage of the harvest, bright lights of the harvester and the following tractor with trailer containing three macro bins and two sorters.  These two hardy souls, bent over sorting out leaves and stems and other detritus from the delicious grapes, were giving their detailed attention to this pre-wine.

Warm, friendly and accommodating staff provided us with unparalleled access and, as a result, we obtained some amazing footage.  We left the vineyard for the winery (located 15 minutes away) by 7:30 and interviewed Bob and some of his team.  Great interviews!   Later in the morning we shot some additional, crazy-awesome, footage in the vineyard.

Here are a few of behind-the-scenes photos.  If you support our film, please follow us here, like us on Facebook (you can see our full Tassel Ridge photo album), and tell your friends about Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked.

Cheers,
Brad

TR2

TR3

TR13

TR20

TR28

 

TR40

HarvesterMorningSun

Tassel Ridge Winery – Next Stop!

We’re excited and pleased to announce we’ll be visiting Tassel Ridge Winery this coming Monday to film the harvest of their Marquette grapes (red wine grapes).  We’ll be joining Adam, their vineyard manager, as he and his crew mechanically harvest their 9 acre Marquette block.  Our plan is for us (Brad & Kirk) to leave our base around 3am and arrive in time to film the harvest in the dark (they begin harvesting at 3am and will go for about 12 hours) and for a few hours into the morning until they load up their grapes and get them back to the T.R. crush pad.  We’re planning to follow them back to the winery, shoot some footage in the cellar, on the crush pad, and hopefully get a chance to interview the winery owner and his winemaker.  All-in-all we’re thrilled to be filming their harvest!  Okay, not so thrilled with a 2am wake-up call…but that’s documentary film making! 🙂

Tassel Ridge Winery cellar photo.
Tassel Ridge Winery cellar photo.

Wine Diamonds: Photos

Update:  The next filming opportunity may be this coming Monday at Tassel Ridge Winery.  If their harvest and our availability coincide then we’ll be filming there next Monday.  Until then, here are some photos from our last day of filming.

This photo tells it all!   You can tell we're in Iowa with the John Deere farm implements behind the grapes.
This photo tells it all! You can tell we’re in Iowa with the John Deere farm implements behind the grapes.
Vineyard manager (Ryan) and Winemaker (Zach) being interviewed.
Vineyard manager (Ryan) and Winemaker (Zach) being interviewed.
Picking wine grapes Iowa-style!
Picking wine grapes Iowa-style!
More picking
More picking

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iPick iStomp iDrink – Harvest Day!

Harvesting wine grapes in Iowa can be a challenge: electrical storms, high temperatures, sticky humidity and competing for attention from potential grape pickers — and for many people who are fans of Iowa Hawkeye or Cyclone football, football tends to win out.  The good news is the grapes somehow get picked (i.e., wine vs. football — wine wins!) and the juice becomes wine.

Picking2This past Saturday we joined almost 100 volunteer grape pickers at Fireside Winery‘s annual iPick iStomp iDrink harvest event.  Volunteers meet at the vineyard at 7am, receive a briefing and tools, and are directed into the vineyard where a orchestrated event unfolds.  Five gallon buckets are filled with grapes, staff collects full buckets and leaves fresh buckets behind, several buckets filled to the brim are hauled via Gators back to a large macro bin, and later a tractor retrieves about a ton of berries in the bin and takes them to an awaiting trailer.  The trailer, when filled with the morning harvest heads back to the winery and those bins are placed in chilled refrigerator semi trailer to stay cool.  When needed the cool bins are removed and delivered next door to the crush-pad where the winemaker crushes, destems and presses the juice.

Around noon the volunteer pickers are back to the winery (about 6 miles from the main vineyard) and relax, have lunch and then enjoy a grape stomp.

Throughout the day we filmed the process, met and talked with volunteers, chatted and interviewed both staff and volunteers, captured the crush (even a brief breakdown of equipment), and the grape stomp.

Here are a few of the photos (below).  Click to see the entire album visit our Wine Diamonds: Iowa Uncorked Facebook page (and remember to “like” us).  Thanks!

Kirk films a volunteer
Kirk films a volunteer
Grape Stompers!
Grape Stompers!
Zach moving macro bins of wine grapes
Zach moving macro bins of wine grapes
Kirk filming the unloading of LaCrosse into Crusher-Destemmer machine.
Kirk filming the unloading of LaCrosse into Crusher-Destemmer machine.