The Making of a Movie – Public Enemies, Starring Johnny Depp & Christian Bale

(07/08/09) – Last Spring, I had a unique opportunity to take part in the filming of a major motion picture. The Michael Mann directed film, Public Enemies was filmed in Chicago, IL, all over Wisconsin, and even in Indiana, John Dillinger’s home state. Strangely enough, I played a saxophonist in the band at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. As many of you know, the famous Aragon Ballroom was host to some of the greatest bands of all times, dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. The theater was transformed to the way it looked in the early 1930s, complete with dining, dancing, and of course mingling. To shoot the scenes at the Aragon Ballroom, we were dressed in period tuxes, all wool, from London, England, and were donned with time pieces, rings, Gardenia lapel flowers (which were freshened or replaced throughout the two days), and period instruments, beautifully restored to mint condition. Now the strange part for many of us was the rehearsal prior to the shoot with the music to be played during the shoot. Well, the long-and-short of it is…we never played a single note of music on film. Evidently, the Music Union contract specified if indeed our music was captured on film for any duration, our royalty payments would have continued to compound with every film preview, DVD sale, Soundtrack sale, etc. So, we ‘Pantomimed’ our performance in convincing fashion for all to see, but for none to hear. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I enjoyed meeting Johnny Depp, spending time with all the great musicians in the band, and being mesmerized by Diana Krall, a tremendous talent, and elegant lady. Lastly, I enjoyed the first viewing of the movie on July 3rd, in Hayward, WI, near the famous ‘Little Bohemia’ in Manitowish Waters, WI with my Grandparents, on my Grandfathers 78th Birthday. That was truly a memory to savor for the rest of my days. (And as luck would have it, I made the cut and can be seen on a pull-away shot from the Aragon Ballroom scene! — 1:08 in the trailer) Hope many of you can enjoy the movie in the theater soon. It is one of the first films shot in HD Digital and is crystal clear. — Can you tell? 

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