It has been really bustling on set recently! On April 20th, Pie in the Sky had six jobs in it's six studios including some favourites, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and retired CTV news anchor legend Lloyd Robertson!
Studio 1 was a history of the YMCA and what they had to do with our nation's railway system and how they were used by the railway men. Lloyd Robertson hosted in the studio where props and rear projection brought the historic locations to life again.
Studio 2 had a green screen shoot for an insurance company.
Studio 3 had Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on set and he spoke about what it was like being so high above the earth. He is an all time favourite of many of us so it was a complete honour having him by!
Studio 4 had a Tim Hortons commercial. We always love supporting our Canadian companies and in the industry with some wee hours... we support coffee!
Over in Studio 5 was a show about celebrities who had drug and alcohol trouble, called "Under the Influence".
Then in studio 6, a small set was created for some clients in town from Vancouver.
In addition to all that, we had a bus tour of 35 high school students who got a good look at the production world! We host tours like this periodically. One class of 30 students had even come from as far away as Detroit. They had visited on set while we had TVO's The Agenda with us and they got some inside industry info from host Steve Paikin himself.
It's just amazing how much content we help people create in a single day! There is never a dull moment on set!
I can't say much at all about this shoot with Grimes but let's just say we met under very interesting circumstances (as you can imagine this video was quite the production). Grimes is awesome and she was totally involved on set and a part of the process and even after a loooong day (into the wee hours) she stayed super cool and super sweet. I said in an earlier post when she came by before on set for "Kill V. Maim" that she reminds me of a goth angel and I'm thinking this video just makes the point further. (It looked as cool during as when finished believe me- we had her Suicide Squad song Medieval Warfare playing on set)
In Grade 10 I met a new girl a year older than I who had friends that didn't go to school anymore but spent their time making money so they could dance all weekend and her crowd whisked me out of the Grunge Era into the deep fascinating world of underground house music. After enough warehouse venues with stereo systems of the exactly right amount of needed bass, it had to be underground as it was just a more raw sound; almost tribal and it had to make you want to move.
After getting an ear for that I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard the "Hideaway" dance track play, to be so drawn to it and it took me away. As it was playing it had something that made you want to dance until the lights came up at 4am and it always hits the same way, very special. The way Kiesza uses her voice as an instrument is distinct to my ears and almost haunting. Interesting that the one artist that struck me in her genre has now done several videos at our facilities with her award winning director Blayre Ellestad. We're always so honored to have fantastic artists on set and when they are Canadian that's just another cherry on top!
I was also touched by her story of the current video shot with us ("Dearly Beloved") where she plays and uses her recently passed away best friend's white electric guitar that was given to her. The song is unique and makes you want to dance after perhaps you have soaked up enough of watching her every move as it's really hard to keep your eyes off her, she's stunning and has such grace and style. Also another neat fact is that Kiesza is now launching a four-piece capsule collection with Mac Cosmetics and we recently had the company's co- founder Frank Toskan by too for an interview! We couldn't be more pleased with our visitors!
There are a few treats in this posting, a few behind the scenes photos from her videos "What is Love" and "Sound of a Woman" and lastly I wanted to share some links to some fascinating info shared by the Director as to some amazing digital details that went into "Dearly Beloved". Enjoy!
As of April 1 of this year, new management with a feisty attitude (that’s us!) has taken over Wallace Studios. The Pie in the Sky Studio team arrived with hazmat suits and started putting some much-needed life back into the facility using a 6-pronged attack: Cleaning, Painting, Renos, Mouse Traps, Attitude, and Gear. Thank goodness for our staff including our new cleaner Ana, Norm the Brave and our wonderful intern team!
The new name, by the way, is Pie Wallace Studios 4, 5 and 6! We needed to identify Wallace Avenue, yet make sure people knew they were dealing with Pie. And another 1, 2, 3 could cause confusion with our east end 1, 2 and 3.
Upgrades done since April 1:
New paint in 75% of the facility.
Brand new scissorlift added.
Now 2 lifts on site.
Brand new air conditioner in
Instead of a dumpster by the front door, we put a planter with flowers. (sorry raccoons!)
Best make-up chair we could find; new luxurious
Cars shoots in Wallace...no problem!
The new penthouse is ready for your special guests. We call this the Matt Damon Room! Because, well, we can't tell you why...yet.
A clean grid!!! Inconceivable! Rigging technicians are no longer swallowing dust from the decades!
New washroom stalls…and high-end paper for your back end!
Threw out 20% of the old gear, repaired another 30%, supplemented with $70,000 worth of new gear including 2 x T12s and a dedo kit. Yes, that old gear is now pop cans...
Large studio dimmer packs relocated out of the way to give you more floor space and no noise. All lighting and grip gear is now the best organized and labelled gear in the city. (Come see!)
Vending machines now also sell odd random items, not just food and drink! (We all need surprises)
We definitely improved the parking problem! With the invention of reverse-parking fees, Pie in the Sky now pays people to park off the lot on days when parking is in high demand. Everyone loves it!
We put in popular Pie Traditions:
Spacelights prehung in all studios to make your large lighting jobs simple.
New management policy of all emails and calls answered promptly.
Attentive staff person on site, locatable at every minute of your rental period. (No more leaving at 3!)
Speakers for audio playback or just fun music are now in all studios and washrooms.
Free location supplies: 3 steamers, iron ironing board, wardrobe racks, wireless internet, 80 chairs, 16 tables, 10 garbage cans, the dumpster.
We also have available for purchase at near-cost: craft paper, booties, rolls of gel, pegs, tape, electrical and office supplies, wireless color printer.
2 extra fridges and 2 freezers are stored on site to make your food shoots easier! (Inconcievable!)
As usual, very reasonable rates, gear packages, and additional discount for paying on the shoot day.
Heck we did all this work and actually lowered the rental rates in two of the stages!
Helpful features which this facility has always had:
3 facilities in one building to handle larger facility needs Large lunchroom.
Dedicated parking lot for 25 cars, nearby street parking as well.
Indoor truck loading bay with ramps for driving cars into studios.
Soundstages, excellent curved cyc walls and floors in great shape.
3 stages: 4700 feet, 1400 feet and 1000 feet give you the versatility of multiple isolated sets.
15 make-up /wardrobe/changerooms.
And who has been visiting Wallace since we took over? A lot of our good friends and clients from our commercial and corporate world that have come to know and enjoy Pie in the Sky in the East end of the city, but we have had some new clients as well.
I don't know if I can speak of them directly yet, but maybe that guy who sometimes plays a Jason character with a gun and his real name rhymes with cat…maybe him, also maybe the guy who was on 24 for 4 years with Kiefer Sutherland and whose last name might be Haysbert, and yes practically the whole cast of Saving Hope was there…not mentioning any names... They enjoyed the studio and could really feel our desire to show them a great time.
We are not done yet and there are plans for more changes. But everyone who has been by so far has been telling us that we have made some big steps in the right direction.
Here are some photos of our journey. A big thank you to all of our friends who gave suggestions and those who answered our survey contest. (We will announce the winners soon!) Keep the suggestions coming. It really feels like a community project when you speak up. You are part of what makes Pie what it is and we wouldn’t get things quite right, I don’t think, without you.
During renovations the studios were busy with an abundance of car shoots, set builds, actors wandering on green screens, etc.
You may cut down branches to cast shadows, but mother nature will take your sand bags for her own! Hey if anyone remembers leaving this sand bag on the roof of Wallace 10-20 years ago, let us know!
I've been with Pie in the Sky Studios literally since the beginning where Pie 1 (used to be the old Donlands movie theatre) started it all. I recall the first studio being under construction and the intensity of creation, with long nights on coffee and adrenalin prepping everything, making it ready to deliver to clients. Now many years later with three full service studios in the east end it was as good a time as any to extend the sphere of influence of Pie to the west end!
Just a month or two back the story began of the transformation of the previous studio facility on Wallace Ave to what has now become the all familiar sunny blue skies and efficient environment that Pie in the Sky provides the film industry. Pie has now expanded to six full service studios across the central GTA which all include on-site gear rental and other amenities.
The previous dreary grey walls and sets of black double doors began to take on sunnier shades of tasteful yellows and whites. The bathrooms were brightened up with fresh flowers and new wood door replacements and any unwelcoming signs were discarded and instead a message of abundance and comfort was promoted! The old leopard print couch went out along with a few other unsightly items to be swept away with any other debris, now calling the dumpster their new home.
The Pie Wallace atmosphere says come on in, stay a while and have a great productive day (or week or month) on set! The floors got cleaned up, unstable coat hooks got replaced with high quality ones and of course, Tim added his own personal touch with a beautiful piano which welcomes you upon entering the catering area.
Just recently over the weekend Pie Wallace had quite a big and exciting job in with a very special individual on set promoting a project that I can say a lot of us have been looking forward to from around the world, from Hollywood and back! I can't say any more on that at this time but we'll share more details and behind the scenes info upon release.
I was fortunate enough to have a chance not only to be on set during this very unique shoot but also had the opportunity to get a full two day tour of Pie Wallace from Tim, detailing the studio expansion and upgrade as well as getting the chance to find out some very interesting history that has gone down at this location. More on that history later.
As we walked around he pointed out the new plush couches he'd just lined the walls with (very comfortable I may add) and showed me an expanse of three distinct studios that can all interconnect or alternately, be used for totally separate jobs simultaneously. The large double doors to the various spaces allow vehicle or lift passage from one area to the next, for easy range of motion within the building itself. The loading docks are roomy and spacious and accommodate large vehicle stationing from within and I'm pretty sure no crew member felt cramped at any point, though tons of equipment was making it's way around the place all weekend!
There are two levels to the building and many neat little makeup rooms and kitchenettes line the halls. When you go upstairs you again have various rooms that can hold talent, service makeup or just give some privacy on set. I definitely felt a distinct community feel when I walked around and I even told Tim that it feels like "Pie Movie Town". Very Hollywood, but still north.
The place was bustling with lots of crew and activity and there were several sets built at the same time within all three studios, allowing a diversity of usage by the same job, who had the full building occupied. They transitioned from motion with their talent to green screen to stills by literally just moving from one area to the next and it flowed like a well-oiled machine. The space is expansive enough that even with a vast crew you always feel like there's ample quarters and even during lunch there was lots of places to sit and dine.
The talent on site had a newly specially renovated room upstairs from which could be made undisturbed international promotional calls between takes. Both Tim and I agreed that the amount of footage and diversity of promotion done over the period of a couple days was pretty astounding and impressive. I believe the studio set up only facilitated that, though it takes quite a group of pros to pull off this output in any quality of environment.
As for some Wallace Ave history, I was surprised to hear there was quite a memory chest. Tim told me stories of first coming to Toronto and working on sets at Wallace Ave in 1992. He reminisced about doing maybe some 30 or 40 jobs, many of which were infomercials which were very popular in the 90s. Tony Little, the fitness guy, popped up out of the repertoire of the various sets Tim worked on.
He led me to a room upstairs where he started going through old pictures. I felt like this was some hidden treasure attic, much like you'll find over at Pie 1 which used to house the old theatre. There were several pictures framed of various jobs through the years that had taken place at Wallace. He said that there was even an old photograph around of the owner of SIM Digital (the largest camera rental company in North America), as he used to do freelance work at Wallace back in the day.
It's very interesting that Tim, newly on his path into the industry years ago worked these very spaces and now he and his wife Ayda are now proudly putting up a Pie in the Sky sign here on Wallace Ave, over two decades later and by that, upgrading the community and bringing about a higher quality of service to the art and film industry. Some things were just meant to be it seems.
See this blog posting and others at our Pie in the Sky studios website
Who hasn't likened a ballet dancer to a fairy godmother of sorts? I know I have. Funny enough my late Godmother Maria Kurthi was in fact a Prima Ballerina in her day in the 30s/40s in Vienna, Austria. She arrived to Canada where she bonded with my mother and took her under her wing and taught her the art of ballet. My mother had also just come to the country via Germany from Hungary and found in Maria a mentor.
The art form of ballet and ballet dancers have a timelessness and a mystique that is not quite easily described. I know out of the many people to have crossed my path as a child, my moments with my godmother Maria stood out to me. Her gentle grace, her smile and her sincere charm and warmth were truly distinct. I find there is always a feeling of nostalgia while watching ballet. I was pretty enchanted as Elena Lobsanova, a principal dancer for the National Ballet, moved on set for the camera tests and I watched intently during her progressions through the choreography. Though Elena was definitely concentrating on the task at hand she made a point to look over and send me a smiling glance, befitting of a star, to notice others and make them feel welcome.
The piece being performed for the camera was Robert Binet's "The Dreamers Ever Leave You". The footage will be a part of an upcoming performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I can tell you that what I saw was absolutely stunning and I was definitely mesmerized. There were points where Robert would come on set and work with the dancer and it was a very unique experience to see the precision and care put into perfecting each movement.
Throughout the weekend several members of the Canadian ballet troupe were filmed for what will be included as the digital promotion of the actual gallery performance within the walls of the AGO coming this August.
The tickets go on sale for AGO members and National Ballet members on the 22nd of May and it is an immersive theatre performance, meaning the audience in some way plays a role, whether that is of a witness as they roam through the spaces as the performance takes place around them or as the role of an actual character.
As a film studio servicing the creative industries, it was a complete pleasure to have been able to support and be a part of such a wonderful project that enhances our culture the way only the fine arts can. You can get your tickets here.
Same article on Pie in the Sky Studios website here
Is is just me or are we hearing more and more amazing new artists coming out of Canada?Here's another that is unique and has a sound of her own. Segments of her music video "Kill V. Maim" were shot very recently with us at Pie in the Sky Studios. Super cool. She's like a goth angel or something.
Being around Finger Eleven on set honestly brought me to a place of nostalgia, reminding me of the days when I was a tad underage, getting into my brother's gigs around Toronto. My mother, who managed the then high school band, would vouch for me to club owners that I'd forego alcohol so I'd usually get in and I can attest I have soaked up a lot of rock atmosphere, enough to know quality sound.
Another usual day during filming turned into the heart racing rhythmic vibe that F11 always delivers. The moment they started I know my day sure picked up. They create an ambiance of a good rock show, even in a staged setting, which seems to come effortlessly with this group of musicians.
I hadn't heard their newest song "Doors and Wolves" until it came pounding out during filming and it certainly struck a chord. As a fan of the band and a lover of all things alternative, my first thought was how raw the sound was. It was fresh and new but totally F11 and once I heard it, I definitely wanted to hear the whole album. It's like those songs you can listen to a thousand times, it just makes you want more.
I got a chance briefly to chat with the lead singer Scott and got a few tidbits which completely filled in for me how their newest material came across from the get-go. Firstly, it was recorded in Nashville which basically says it all. It was recorded in a very short period of time, something on the order of less than 2 weeks, giving it that live performance energy. It was interesting to hear a polished recorded work that had an edge to it of, for lack of a better description, not overly refined but just right.
Though these artists are for all intents and purposes Canadian rock royalty with awards and accolades any band would drool over, they are just about the most laid back easy going people you would ever want to meet, but make no mistake, when it's call time, their star quality shines through unmistakably and they can entertain and I'd describe them as purely intense.
Overall it was an awesome day and all of the crew at Pie in the Sky were really honoured to have Finger Eleven and the video production company Reactiv Pictures Inc with us in the studio. We love promoting the fantastic art that passes through our doors and we can't wait for the release of the band's newest video "Wolves and Doors".