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Robot Field and Post Director Steve Petersen Helms "Valentine's Day Massacre" and "Real Vice Miami" TV Series

(February 10, 2012)
DMN Newswire--2012-2-10--
Filmmaker Steve Petersen recently created, directed and executive produced “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” the highly anticipated television special for National Geographic Channel; and “Real Vice Miami,” a six-episode docudrama series for Investigation Discovery (ID). The shows, produced via Petersen’s production entity Robot Field and Post, elevate the bar for non-scripted television, with visual style and dramatic components based in real-world facts. 

“Valentine’s Day Massacre” investigates the unsolved 1929 mass murder implicating infamous Chicago gang rivals Al Capone and Bugs Moran. The show features colorful interviews and dramatic reenactments bolstered by cutting-edge VFX and graphics. “Valentine’s Day Massacre” premieres on Friday, February 10, 2012 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.  

To view the promo, click HERE

Exhibiting purposeful range in execution, Petersen brought more Hollywood feature film value to “Real Vice Miami,” a thrilling ride through America’s former undisputed drug-trafficking gateway. The episodes chronicle legendary stories of the spiraling drug wars that plagued South Beach, blurring the lines between crooked criminals and law enforcement during the colorful 1980s. Episode one, entitled “River Cops,” will premiere on March 1, 2012. 

To request a screener of “Real Vice Miami,” please contact: [email protected] 

“As we shift towards more television and feature film projects, we created these shows to visually hold up with the scripted world,” states Steve Petersen, director and partner, Robot Field and Post. “We visually scrutinized each show to have its own unique stye and quality of execution, from camerawork and color grading (on-set and in post), to graphics and VFX, with lots of time and energy on interviews, casting and rehearsals to garner performance-levels not typically seen in this genre.” 

Petersen lived and breathed 1920s Chicago to create “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” researching fashion, automobiles, architecture, art and music to inform the style and storytelling. He approached “Real Vice Miami” similarly, while drawing from his personal experience growing up in 1980s Miami. 

“Miami lore has always been a passion of mine so it’s been a longtime dream to direct a piece about that magical, almost unbelievable era, which will never exist again,” remarks Petersen. “Of course, you remember things differently as a child, but my memory is of a colorful, vibrant place -- almost cartoonish -- that was larger than life.” 

“Valentine’s Day Massacre” was shot using traditional filmmaking techniques familiar in classic gangster period pictures like The Godfather and The Untouchables. With a creative directing background, Petersen applied his design sensibilities to develop stylized visual language for reflecting the era. He shot and color graded the show on a palette muted around grays and off-whites, with very little saturation throughout the show and graphics package. For typography and text, he commissioned organic designs and hand-written fonts. 

Shooting for VFX was pivotal to recreating scenes and historic locations, most notably, the reenactment of the massacre, which Petersen depicted in dramatic frozen moment. For a key segment that creatively transforms the modern-day grounds of the crime scene (now a senior citizens home and park) with augmented reality, Petersen was able to immerse the guest historian in the old car garage where the massacre took place. Without the budget to shutdown the streets, he conducted test shoots, framing extra wide to account for optimal compositing in post, and used trees and parking meters as natural tracking markers. 

For “Real Vice Miami,” Petersen opted for hyper-colors and frenetic camerawork to capture the vibrance of the stories and fast-paced culture of the time. He built on his aesthetic concept with a fast editing style in order to motivate the audience to chase the action.

“It was a lot to think about in terms of pacing the story and being true to the material with the cinematography,” Petersen recounts. “Everything back then was happening so quickly with simultaneity, so I wanted the action a little ahead of the camera, which was always zooming, moving, running, swinging, underwater and flying. We positioned the interviews and shots of Miami as a character to subdue the pacing and give viewers moments to breathe.” 

“In ‘Real Vice: Miami,’ we experience a kinetic visual feast that allows us to see crime scenes in a whole new way,” comments Pamela Deutsch, executive producer, Investigation Discovery. “Using their unique process called ‘hyperspatial slice animation,’ Robot Field and Post allows us to see images in three dimensions. From a bullet’s trajectory, to high speed chases, each episode is a mini-action movie with all the twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat!”

According to Petersen, the interview process was crucial to staging scenes and plotting acts for complex stories that had to be told in just 40-some minutes for television; moreover, it brought the necessary emotional color, perspective and authenticity to the elements of realism portrayed. 

“Typically interviewees are placed in defocused, generic backgrounds,” explains Petersen. “We strove to stylize the interviews, while remaining respectful to the fact that these are true and sometimes horrific accounts coming from real people. With ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre,’ we created an atmosphere that reflected the mood of the material, a 1920s jazz bar, using background actors and art direction that felt genuine.” 

Robot Field and Post also recently wrapped up Hostage: Do or Die for ID. The production company is currently developing another mob show featuring “Valentine’s Day Massacre” host Johnny Fratto, and a bomb squad TV special for Investigation Discovery. 

“These shows offered me a great opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge of every aspect of filmmaking,” concludes Petersen. “Combining my design background with my narrative sensibilities shooting and staging dramatic moments, directing from a visual standpoint has become so engrained in me. I’m very eager to bring that to the scripted world of film and television.” 

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Related Keywords:real vice miami, vfx, tv, docudrama, non-sripted, steve petersen, river cops, valentine's day massacre, national geographic, investigation discovery, ID, tv director,


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