Former SE Blueprint sales representative Jessica Cliff stands next to a car destroyed during filming of Captain America.
By Ed Avis
If you saw the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you might remember some scenes that take place in Washington D.C. What you probably didn’t realize was that some of those scenes were actually filmed in Cleveland! Thanks in part to SE Blueprint, East Sixth Street in Cleveland was temporarily converted to Seventh and D Streets in Washington D.C.
SE Blueprint and its Cleveland Color Imaging division have been helping filmmakers for the past six or seven years. In addition to Captain America: The Winter Solider, other movies the company has aided include Draft Day, Lost in Cleveland, and Bye Bye Man. Its most recent credit is the latest installment of the Fast and Furious series, F8.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Kevin Anderson, president of SE Blueprint. “Sometimes we can see our work in the movies, but a lot of it is behind the scenes.”
In the Beginning
Anderson says SE Blueprint got started in the movies when someone from a studio advance team called to ask about more traditional reprographics services. The State of Ohio and Cleveland had recently passed tax breaks for filmmakers, and many came seeking urban sites that could resemble more famous cities like New York or Washington D.C.
“We started with large format construction drawings for the builders of the movie sets,” Anderson remembers. “Then they realized that we also do color, so we started doing backdrops and window signage that makes Cleveland look like it’s someplace else.”
SE Blueprint, which employs 25 people, continues to work with both the art departments of the film companies, which need the color work done, and the set building departments, which need construction drawing reproduction.
The most common color work SE Blueprint does for the movies is printing posters and window graphics that can make Cleveland storefronts look like storefronts in other cities. The designs all come from the filmmaker’s art department, and they are typically printed on SE’s KIP 890 printer or an HP inkjet printer.
“We print lot of food advertising posters, fake storefronts, and things like that,”
Sometimes other color work is required. For example, for a recent movie a filmmaker delivered a number of cars and asked SE to make them look like police cars (see photos). Shortly after the wrapping was complete one of Anderson’s employees texted him a photo of one of the cars with the back smashed in. She included the note “Oops!”
“I was stuck in Atlanta, and I was trying to decide who to call first, an attorney or our insurance company,” Anderson recalls. “The staff was letting me stew about this for a while,
not answering my calls, when finally they told me that the studio had smashed the car on purpose!”
The movie companies are delighted when SE turns around jobs in a couple of hours, and they don’t hassle about the price. And while the overall timeframe is relatively short – a big movie will film in Cleveland for about 90 days – the work is steady during that entire time, Anderson says. For example, the printing for F8 generated about $15,000 in work, and Winter Soldier was about double that.
Anderson says that other repro shops interested in this kind of work should investigate to see if their city or state has an organization devoted to attracting movie work.
“You have to make yourself noticed. Support the film commission in your area. Make them aware of what your capabilities are,” he says.
Because he has developed a relationship with the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, Anderson learns in advance about upcoming film projects. A repro shop could also learn about upcoming films by researching permit applications, he adds.
“Put your ear to the ground,” he says.