Friday, June 4, 2010


Freaks and Errors continues, we're sitting here in Southern California at an auction held by H.R. Harmer, one of the oldest (and most divided) stamp houses in the world. Normally, flying across the country to sit through 9 hours of of stamp lot bidding (imagine the stereotypical auction that is ingrained in your head, now pretend that someone came in and tea bagged the whole room with a monkey tranquilizer and you're watching the "action" unfold). What makes this one different is 2 stamps. 2 stamps out of over 4000 lots (some lots have more than one stamp in them) are the stars of this show, as they have been for almost 100 years.

Before we get to our hero's though, let's set up the scene. Stamp auctions are set up in two rooms; first a viewing room, filled with hundreds of cartons, banquet tables, magnifying glasses, reference books, tongs (not the banana hammock type, the tweezer type) and lighter fluid. You'd think have gallons of lighter fluid in the same room as millions of dollars worth of paper would be a good idea, but it's not, it's a necessity. The lighter fluid is used to detect watermarks on the stamps and as we go into hour 8, it's going to be used on on Mike's (our DP) eyes to keep him awake. Everyone is expressionless, it's truly remarkable, it's like every collector is issued a poker face in a game that they're playing by themselves.

The other room is where the live auction is being held (picture the viewing room, except make everyone face the front and remove the cartons). The bidders come in multiple forms, in person on the floor, on the phone and over the internet (which the auctioneer keeps referring to them as "the net"). The lots are read in sequential order and at the rate we are going, about 125 an hour, there seems to be rush, not much movement and no one seems to have to pee.

The 2 we are waiting for are a couple examples of the infamous "Inverted Jenny", a stamp that was printed as an error in 1918. It is rare when one of the 77 known copies of this stamp come up for auction, even rarer when two come up in the same auction. The Inverted Jenny was misprinted when a missed plate change resulted in the biplane (a Curtiss Jenning JN-4) to be printed upside down. These 2 examples are not the best, but at an estimated selling of $250,000 to $350,000, I guess it doesn't matter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Philatelic Beef Sandwich

The point of using a blog is to have a platform to constantly keep others current on what is happening. We feel like blogging is like laundry, it's far more gratifying doing 8 loads in one day than it is keeping on top of it. So, in the 6 weeks or so since our last entry, it's not that we've been wearing the same things, we've just been buying new and now it's time to wash. So, the first load is we've moved into our new space, it really makes our old space look and smell like a waiting room shared by both a Ponderosa and an immediate care center. One receipt at a time, we're getting organized and we'll soon be presentable enough to have over people who actually have something better to do. Besides having more room for our future strongman and D&D tourney's, we are shooting around like it's our jobs. Freaks and Errors has received a nice surprise as one of it's stars, the Swedish Treskilling Yellow stamp, in hiding for almost 15 years, has decided to come up for air and flex it's philatelic muscle in an upcoming auction in Switzerland on May 22. If it sells, it will most likely remain the most valuable thing (by weight & volume) in the world, if it doesn't sell, you can bet you'll never know. Our crack team of filmers are trying to weasel their way out to Geneva to capture some the bare-knuckle stamp action, stay tuned for something or nothing depending how creative we can get.

Candy is next on our plate, we are in talks with author Beth Kimmerle (Candy: The Sweet History) to produce a show that explores the current, past and future state of confections in cities across the United States (and the across the globe). Beth, a chocolate and candy historian, lectures and consults around the world on the sweet trade. We met her a few months ago and our ability to talk with our mouths full must have convinced her that we were the right company for the job. The pilot is being shot early summer and we will be shopping it around between dental visits.

Our collaboration with artist Tony Tasset continues, we are in production of the Cardinal banner installation that is slated for a July 4th unveiling. The banners, that will run along State Street in Chicago, between Van Buren and Wacker, will give the illusion of a bird in flight, without the mess. Tony's work is always a showstopper, we think this will be a nice injection of fake nature in the Loop.

This week, back to Iowa for another round of chicken breast implants and oxy acetylene meat dancing, wrapping up the filming on our first episode of Garage Gourmet with the Freylack brother's. If it's anything like the last one, this really could be the last blog entry.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's Happening, Now?

There is nothing like the smell of a new office, except for the smell of an even newer office. After a brief 5 month stint, we are moving off Green Street and moving to a newer, kick-asser space over by Ukrainian Village (Fulton/Damen). The new space will allow us to still talk over each other but now, we will be able to cook a full meal at the same time. Our landing date is May 1st, we will post some pix of our 4 pieces of furniture in a space 3 times the size. Some other benefits: space to do model casting complete with changing area, small area for photo/video shoots or break-offs (anyone needs a little space for either of these, let us know), cell phone service that works, new editing bay, larger more plush drinking area and more direct sunlight will allow office sun glass wearing that will look less contrived. We are also lucky to have the venerable and gracious photographer Fred Stein as a landlord, as well as the equally kind and talented photographer, Art Carrillo as a neighbor.

We just got back from Miami, where we were shooting like it was our jobs. First off was the continuation of our DVD box set for Life Fitness, showcasing the finest in American muscle development, then back-to-back commercials for Belk. The first was Mother's Day, shot in a Spanish Monastery that seemed to be a little lost in South Florida, next was some boat-on-boat action shooting on the high seas of Key Biscayne. All of the back room deals caught on tape by DP Scott Goodman and sound man Chris Nickless who tirelessly followed the production for 4 days, countless hours, all the while dodging non-verbal threats from Gary Katz as he was wielding the 35mm Arricam for the big shots. Keep tuned for all of this white-knuckle action to be posted on our various socials. In house we are editing the bust-a-nut funny sequel to Almost Pimps, along with making plans to head to Northern California to search out an artist named Harley Harley, who started his own country 25 years ago by issuing stamps, Freaks and Errors continues, this should be something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's Happening?

Things are kicking along here at Con HQ. We are currently shooting a spot for GE in Rio De Janeiro (Jon won the toss to go down there, sealing the deal with his rendition of Girl from Ipanema, while ice dancing on carpet). Next stop, an equally exotic location, Atlanta, GA for the start of our 6 city tour for Life Fitness and their "Hammer Strength" training clinics. This DVD series will focus on the latest equipment and strength training techniques from major college and high school trainers, I should probably start working out.

Though March does show signs of life here in Chicago, we are headed down to Miami to shoot 2 spots for our favorite retailer, Belk. Keep your sensors peeled for a couple jaw-dropping Mother and Father's day spots (not rolled into one, but separate) coming to the airwaves starting in late April through June. If that wasn't enough, we just wrapped up shooting on another episode of Almost Pimps, watch for details here or continually check our site or Vimeo page:

If you don't see it in the next couple of weeks, keep hitting the refresh button, it will eventually appear. This will also give you a chance to watch episode 1: "The Waitress," you don't want to fall behind now:

There is so much in the hopper, remove all your social media ticks and just bookmark us for 2010, more stamp film, more Garage Gourmet, more and more entertainment that will blow your mind.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Real Thing

We partnered with director Dan Goldberg to create a little beauty piece starring America's favorite soft drink, we hope that it virtually quenches your thirst. Shot in HD on a Phantom camera.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Politicos 2010

Most Chicagoans don't look forward to November, especially in the middle of January, but it is election year and that changes things for some. What better way to show a candidate's dedication and body temperature at the same time, but to shoot a scene for their latest spot on top of a roof? Remove the sun, add a breeze off the near frozen lake and the conditions become perfect for wind burn and a seamless performance. Justin Oberman is a Democrat running for Illinois State Treasurer, he and his team are burning it with one last push before the February primaries and we were happy to help out with their latest spot. On camera we have DP Jon Ellison, assisted by Joe Hoffman. The commercial is running in numerous markets at the end of January: Chicago, Northern, Central and Downstate Illinois.

It doesn't matter which party you support, where we come from, you vote for the guy standing on a rooftop in Chicago, in January, wearing nothing but a suit and a smile. If you read this and vote, you are not only more American than anyone else who doesn't, but you make us want to hang out. Look for us punching the ballot on February 4th, we'll be the ones voting.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Freaks & Errors, a film about stamp collectors

For those people who wake up every day wishing there was an action-packed philatelic documentary out there, the wait is almost over. We are currently in production of Freaks and Errors: A Rare Collection, a documentary that reveals a fascinating look at the decidedly addictive hobby of stamp collecting. We are presenting an intimate overview of some of the rarest stamps in the world along with the people who own them, as well as the collectors that who enjoy the hobby at a much more grass roots level. In the film, the stamps themselves take on lives of their own, rivaling those who collect and revere them as we search the many levels of philatelic world, from multi-million dollar collections to those who accumulate thousands of pieces in hopes of finding the one “gem” that will change their collecting lives. A look at this hobby exposes a deep bond that brings people together from foreign places, cultures, histories and economic backgrounds all for the love of these humble receipts for service.

The nucleus of the film revolves around 6 of the rarest stamps currently residing in collectors hands, following their paths to philatelic immortality. Along the way, we are uncovering the myths and facts of the not only the stamps, but their current and previous owners, as well as the opinions of their faithful, but non-collecting family and friends. The film will consist of interviews from collectors, dealers, auctioneers and other members of the philatelic world as well as archival footage that will reveal the more fascinating moments of philately (past and present). Our goal is to give the viewer an experience of the stamp world and insight to the hypothesized collector "gene." We will be updating the blog with our work in progress and plan on wrapping the film up for 2011 release.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Belk "Santa's Secret" Holiday Finale

For the final spot in our Belk trio of holiday commercials, we took an impressionistic approach to the widely accepted Santa Clause theme (and look). This was shot on location at Belk store in Buckhead (Atlanta) Georgia. The cast, crew, client and store employees all showed some serious resilience during 2 nights (meaning all night) of shooting. We'd like to thank all the talented people that worked on these 3 spots.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Belk Holiday Spot number 2

The fairy dust is back in this spot 2 of 3 for Belk Holiday campaign. Shot on location with a fantastic cast and crew, in a house that was made for the holidays. Our hero, Mia was a trooper over this somewhat exhausting 2 day shoot, that can't be said of a few members of the Concentrated team.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exhale, the holidays are here

Belk Holiday 2009, spot 1 of 3

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holiday x 3

We've brought 2 of the 3 holiday spots we won for North Carolina based retailer Belk to Chicago for production and post-production. The first spot was shot on set at Resolution studios (fantastic job by everyone involved). We were on location for the second one, in a beautiful house, in a neighborhood that had no sidewalks. The house was transformed into a paradise for the Christmas inclined and then, just like the holidays, it all went away. The third spot was shot on location at a Belk flagship store in Atlanta, Georgia. The post work for spot #3 was brought back to the home front to keep this city going. The triptych of holiday magic will be showing in markets across the southern part of this great country, look for them and enjoy the ethereal worlds of imagination that only advertising can create.

More about Concentrated, part of our corporate mantra is that the people in our crew have to resemble us, but us 10 years ago, as illustrated here by one Jon Singer and one Jon-Singer-like production assistant. This makes us look better during the frequent napping that occurs during shoots as well as the blame game when "one of us" eats all the gluten free pita chips. Guess who is who and you will have an exotic stranger email you with a monetary offer that will change your life forever.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Digs

We've moved to serve us better. This month we moved into new offices in the River West neighborhood of Chicago. By move, we mean we've signed a lease and spend a lot of time looking around where everything should go, instead of in the middle of the floor. We don't know what the loft building (built circa 1900) was before the 80's came around and the word loft was invented, but it does have a magnetic front door for our convenience, a D&D feel at the front entrance and the previous tenants were ticket scalpers, which means they conveniently had phone jacks installed on the wall every 3.5". We are confident that this will help us out when Patrick Hernandez looses his job at Sbarro and starts touring again. Drop by anytime, but call first to make sure we don't need you to bring anything. Concentrated, 700 N. Green St. #106 (Green between Huron and Superior)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Almost Pimps

We just wrapped up a short written by Second City members Brad Morris & Pat O'Brien. Check it out on Funny or Die

There's a place where food and power tools meet and make sweet gourmet love. This place is obviously Iowa. Our crew has teamed up with a band of brothers that share their love of food, machines, booze and debate to create a cooking show that celebrates some of the things that define our country: fried-anything, garages, tequila, drumming circles, hot-rods, cheese, foul language and family.

Over the next couples of months, we will be racking up the miles traveling to Iowa to capture these guys in their natural habitat and bringing you some of the finest culinary moments along with whatever else our cameras can stomach.

We want to introduce you to one of the brothers, Matt, in his garage, smoking, sitting, relishing the moment, with a couple of slaughtered back-up dancers bringing up the rear. Watch for more soon.

change in the air

After realizing that we have to repeat ourselves over and over again or speak so slowly we feel like we're offending people, we've changed our URL to

You can still get to the site by typing in, but why do that? You'll gain minutes of your life back by just accepting the change and moving forward.

We've included a visual of what you'll see to help ease the transition.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Belk denIM Spot

Summer 2009 and DP Gary Katz is behind the trigger of the Red One camera for "denIM", the latest spot for Red Camel Jeans and Belk Department Stores. This was shot on location at Senn High School in Chicago, the weather was a perfect 60 degrees and rainy, just as to be expected for June. We made up for the chilly weather by making everyone move really fast. A fantastic cast and crew made this shoot a great success. Watch the full spot below.