We created a new two-part short film for Filbert’s soda, the last independent soda maker in the Midwest. Set in the year 1930, the first part of the story, titled “Willy And Scooter,” follows the bicycle journey of a young rural boy (Willy, played by Noah Jerome Schwartz) to a distant soda shop for his favorite soda pop, an orange Filbert’s. From the soda shop, Willy calls his best friend, Scooter (Lincoln Rogers), and surprises him with a gassy greeting.
The production, which features the 1928 recording “Old Country Stomp” by Henry Thomas, an ensemble cast and vintage cars and wardrobe of the era, took three days to shoot in the western towns of Glen Ellyn, Sugar Grove, Big Rock and Hinckley, IL. Primary locations in Glen Ellyn were The Bells & Whistles Snackery (the soda shop), a refurbished space once occupied by the Hillside Pharmacy in what is The Rohm Building, built in 1929, the Glen Art Theater, which first opened its doors in the early 1920s, and the Glen Ellyn home of Bob and Jeanne Pitra. The O’Donnell farm, owned by husband and wife Bill and Chris O’Donnell of Big Rock, served as the home and journey start point for Willy.
In part two of the story, set in present day, Scooter, now in his late 80s, calls his old pal Willy from the chess pavilion along the lake shore in Chicago and returns the greeting — eight decades later.
The cars featured included a 1929 Pierce Arrow owned by Jack Truckenbrod, a 1929 Hupmobile owned by Jim Manak, a 1926 Lincoln owned by Reuben and Emily Taylor, a 1930 Plymouth owned by Mark Smith, a 1931 Plymouth (ok, a slight fudge for our August 1930 day) owned by Terry Berg, and a 1929 Ford Model A owned by Gregg Zartmann. The rest of the cast includes Jonathan Menchin as the shop owner, Gina Johnson as his daughter, Jeff Bruce as the male customer, Molly Hall as the female customer, Katy Boza as the woman in the Hupmobile, Isabella Dunlap as the girl on the tree swing, Sarah Weis as the woman in the Pierce Arrow rumble seat, Sherry Merola and Mark King as the couple in front of the theater, Charlotte Epting-Schillinger as Scooter’s sister, Gene Lawrence as the present day Willy, Bob Weagant as the present day Scooter, Judy Rossignolo Rice as Willy’s wheelchair attendant and Maurice Lemon as older Scooter’s chess opponent. Casting was by Dawn Gray Talent Group and Shirley Hamilton, Inc. Wardrobe and props were provided by Simply Posh for Vintage Living in Glen Ellyn, courtesy of Rebecca Ersfeld. Additional wardrobe provided by All Dressed Up in Batavia, IL, Silver Moon of Chicago and Glenbard South High School, courtesy of Mike Fox. Additional props provided by Zap Props in Chicago. Hair and makeup was done by Karen Brody and Sara Weis.
Images of the 1930 Glen Ellyn News were made possible by Seymour and Jenny at the Glen Ellyn Historical Society, and printing was provided by Steve Kramer and Classic Color of Broadview, IL, with an assist by Peggy Atkins. Vintage goggles and eyewear were provided by Clear Light Optical of Ashland, Oregon. Authentic 1927 Indian head nickel provided by Gabe’s Coins of Glen Ellyn. Vintage Bicycle playing cards provided by The United States Playing Card Company of Erlanger, KY. Bow ties provided by The Bow Tie Club of Clarksburg, MD.
Camera was provided by Terry Rayment of Grand Rapids, MI. Lens, lighting and grip equipment package was provided by Shawn Grice of Deerfield, MI. Additional lens package by Schumacher Camera of Chicago. Additional equipment provided by GACC Video and Product Productions of Chicago. The shoot would not have been possible without a fantastic creative and production team. Art Director Ryann Flynn was invaluable and instrumental throughout, from initial concept through every detail of the production. Special thanks to: Jeanne and Bob Pitra for their enormous kindness and help throughout; Tracey Kreiling, Andrew, Joanne, Emma and the rest of the staff at the Bells & Whistles Snackery; Deputy Chief of Police Bill Holmer and the rest of the Glen Ellyn Police Department for coordination of parking and locations; Tim Burdick and The Chicago Parks District for permits; Dr. Haque, Laverne and Alex for their gracious help in allowing us to shoot at the Glen Art Theater; Bill and Chris O’Donnell for their repeated hospitality and access to their farm; Bob, Cindy, Isabella and Jacob Dunlop and Bill Pesan for their help with our tree swing and old schoolyard scenes; Keith Fitzgerald and Dotty of Fitzgerald’s Electrical Company in Big Rock for access to their beautiful pre-Civil War home and property; Ty Travers (630) 425-8127 of Glen Ellyn for providing our main co-star — the bike; Michael Schwartz for being Noah’s super Dad and chaperone; Buckley Hamman and John Alderson of TAP.tv for doing the work of an entire production crew; Sara Weis of i^3 for wardobe, makeup, casting and untold other production details; Arturo Cubacub of i^3 for technical guidance; Roseanna “Ro” McKay for traffic control and production assistance; Peggy Atkins for print production assistance; Landry Miller and YiRan Liu for creative assistance; Hannah Herbert for casting and permit coordination. Extras: Alex Young, Vanessa Dewing, Jessica Thigpen, Sophia Coyne-Kosnak, Bryan Beckwith, Nate Johnson, Pam Guth and Walter Schillinger.
Terry Rayment did an amazing job as Camera Operator and Director of Photography. Retouching and color correction were provided by John Truckenbrod (son of Jack) and Grant Cheney at Radar Studios in Chicago.
Don Pogany of Sticky produced, directed and edited.
Wikipedia: Known best for its namesake root beer, Filbert’s also produces 24 flavors of soda. The company started at the turn of the century when George Filbert and family delivered milk, ice and coal to homes in the Bridgeport neighborhood by horse-drawn wagon. The family added root beer in 1926, when it became popular during Prohibition. It was manufactured in half barrels and supplied mostly to taverns across five nearby states. Still a family business, Filbert’s is run by Ron Filbert.
Funny sometimes how the dots connect. Following our work for Filbert’s, a former and return client asked us if we could put together a short documentary about the 100-year anniversary of his latest investment, a leading appliance parts company named C.E. Sundberg, which was opening a new 110,000 square-foot near Midway Airport. For that Grand Opening, among the many materials Sticky designed were these special soda labels, for four of the most popular (and oldest) soda flavors Filbert’s makes — and makes available — for anyone. And even more recently (thanks in part to those label designs), we’ve been designing wine labels for a company in France. Who knew?
So if you ever want a private label or package design for a soda (or a beer or wine), let us know.