Whom do filmmakers approach if they need to film a server room? How to make an old fax machine print the desired material? Where to look for technological devices’ props for films about the recent past? Answers to these questions should be sought at the company Galvotas, which has been in operation between the technology and film worlds for numerous years. How are these two fields related and why such projects like The Playlist, Clark, Paradise, Young Wallander and others needed their help – a conversation with the Founder of the company Justinas Petravičius and Technical Props Engineer Marius Obcarskas.

Presently the company is working with two important branches for film – providing assistance in managing the technological devices needed for filming and manufacturing props and decorations related to technologies – server rooms, computers, fax machines and various other devices which are seen by the audiences on screen.

According to Director of the company J. Petravičius, the story of work in filmmaking began in 2013 when the team of the series The Assets (USA) arrived in Lithuania. The latter were looking for a person able to operate a novel transfer system of filmed materials; eventually other offers came through – the filming teams would settle in the city for longer periods, and they often needed IT specialists’ assistance. After some time, a new demand appeared – computer, technical props (decorations, objects and props seen in film) manufacture and preparation. At that time there were no companies offering such services in Lithuania. “Not just in Lithuania, but in the whole world there is a noticeable trend – the more we travel into the future, the more contemporary past is reflected in films. That means, that frequently in films and TV series we see telephones, computers, fax machines, printers and other technologies,” – tells J. Petravičius.

Photo credits: Galvotas
A server room for Netflix TV series and Nokia mobile phones revived for a second life

Work with props begins after receiving an inquiry from a film crew. A model is received, then efforts are made to understand what result is expected, how it would appear visually. “We have 3D printers and CNC machines – we make an effort to have as much equipment as possible and to make it ourselves, because short delivery terms make it difficult getting in touch with other companies,” – explains J. Petravičius.

Together with his team he contributed to many films and advertisement making, in the long list there are – the game Candy Crush and Pringles crisps advertisements, films Kompromat, Paradise, TV series Clark, Fortress, Young Wallander, The Playlist, Max Anger: With One Eye Open and others.

“Most likely, one of the most memorable projects, was the series telling the story of Spotify called The Playlist. Maybe because it was my first project and the task was not an easy one – a programmers’ office was needed to be installed for filming,” – describes M. Obcarskas.

“The makers of the series sent us an abundance of equipment parts from Norway – we were sorting them in the warehouse, counting the components. Eventually we needed to order parts, however, every time we would send an enquiry we would receive a reply that the required component is not available on the market… We had to make them ourselves. Later, on set, we needed to make it so that the screens to not flicker whilst filming, sort out the computers so that the actors can play out certain scenes,” recalls J. Petravičius. “It was also very interesting to film the series Max Anger: With One Eye Open – maybe because the script took us back to the 90s, and for that we needed to revive a plethora of devices for a second life – to make the fax machine print what is needed at the time, to make flatscreen TV look like CRT TV, make old Nokia or Motorola mobile phone models work, because those phones had to function, the characters used them to make phone calls, send texts etc. Sometimes you need to make things work in a certain way, in which they were not designed to function. Conventional methods of their operation need to be breached – as with all the technologies, they are designed to work in a specific way for a specific reason.

Photo credits: Galvotas
Photo credits: Galvotas
12-hour filming shifts and the last-minute changes

Both Marius and Justinas, unanimously agree that work in the film industry has its own specifics and the irregular working hours and the last-minute changes often become a part of daily life. “We try to never say “no” to film or series makers, yet sometimes their choices are influenced by the increasing price due to a need for certain parts or lack of time – most often, a specific filming prop is needed very quickly. Sometimes, when time is short, we work through the night to make a certain part or device,” – smiles the team.

“Situations occur, where everything works, but on the day of filming the device is too cold and stops functioning. You have just a few minutes to sort it out. Work in the film industry is really tense, but as time goes on you learn to manage the stress, stop other people from transferring it to you,” – explains M. Obcarskas.

“Filming shift lasts 12 hours, everything happens quickly, many changes can take place in the last minute. In business if you do not complete a certain task by a specific deadline nothing serious happens. Whereas in film, you cannot be late even a minute as it can cost hundreds of thousands, drastically change the filming schedule so on and so forth,” – agrees the Director of the company.

Photo credits: Galvotas
From CD-ROM for crisps to broken ceilings

The team admits, that whilst preparing for filming ridiculous situations do take place. “Once when installing wiring above an office room installed in the studio, I fell through the ceiling. My legs where swinging in the air and I was thinking whether we will be able to fix the ceiling before the scheduled morning filming time,” – laughs J. Petravičius. “There were many situations – for example, for the Pringles advertisement we needed to create a CD-ROM from which a crisp would come out. Because a conventional CD-ROM was too small for such a scene, we made a new one. We were requested to create the slower speed of the opening of the tray, upon arriving on set we received a reverse request – for everything to move faster. That is not unusual – often last-minute corrections need to be made.”

“Now, when watching series or films, I pay attention to props seen on screen – were they made realistically, whether defects of the props are visible. I have noticed that certain parts could have been made better. Even though I watch films differently now, work in the film industry has not taken away my love for films,” – observes M. Obcarskas.

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