Live from the US Open: Filmwerks Steps Up Game In Power, Set Design
In a year brimming with change for ESPN and the USTA, it’s nice to have someone familiar covering your back. Filmwerks has returned for its 17th consecutive year at the US Open, providing power and set-design support for the final tennis major of the year, and this might be the company’s largest-impact performance to date.
“With all of their renovations, we know the job and this facility very well,” says Chad Corbin, GM, Filmwerks. “[ESPN and the USTA] wanted to keep as much of the team together as they could just so they wouldn’t have any new roadblocks along the way.”
Filmwerks has been working in earnest here at the Open since early July, when 10 trucks arrived from the company’s home in North Carolina. There are two pillars to Filmwerks’ presence: power and climate control for ESPN in the broadcast compound and the design and installation of sets with the USTA throughout the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
On the power front, Filmwerks has made a full investment in deploying 27 UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, systems, which have resulted in the new broadcast compound’s not using a single ounce of diesel fuel for the entire event, including the two-month run-up.
“We are totally committed to UPS,” says Filmwerks owner Mike Satrazemis. “We feel comfortable with it now. We’ve learned an awful lot. We are going after this. This will be implemented throughout the country.”
The company has also deployed a new Cell Watch system that checks and displays the status of every cell in every battery in the compound. According to Satrazemis, this is an “unheard of” level of attention to detail.
Filmwerks’ power grid is essentially a triple-redundant system with automatic transfer switches, using in-venue power, the UPSs, and two large generators. The power network has already proved beneficial, keeping the entire compound completely online during a power outage that normally would have required a complete shutdown to fix.
“I sleep better at night knowing, in case of an emergency, I have backup to the backup,” says David Baker-Fahey, the onsite technical manager. “It’s a win-win for me.”
In addition, Filmwerks spent the past year working with the USTA to completely redesign all eight of the sets scattered around the Tennis Center. The venue’s sets were gutted and renovated to provide a fresh feel and more-efficient performance.
“There was no uniformity between any of the sets in the past,” says Corbin. “One thing they really wanted was a universal look, and that’s what we gave them.”