Tag Archives: gas station

Location Scout and Producer Jamie Vesay

October 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When it comes to shooting video, Jamie Vesay of Omaha is a handler, facilitator, fixer, procurer, and—as his LinkedIn site puts it—“minutia wrangler” and “chaos killer.” He works on television commercials, music videos, and feature films. His location scout credits include Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and Downsizing.

Whether doing logistics or scouting locations, Vesay says he is “a creative collaborator” helping filmmakers “realize their vision.” He also aspires to make his own films from scripts and stories he’s writing.

The Pottsville, Pennsylvania, native worked odd jobs back East when he got an interview for the special effects (FX) crew on a 1989 Baltimore film shoot. Vesay’s experience as a machinist provided the fabrication skills needed in the FX profession. That first gig came on Barry Levinson’s major studio project, Avalon.

More FX feature jobs followed, as did a move to Los Angeles, before the work dried up and he relocated to Omaha. His talents made him in-demand on shoots. He added location scouting to his repertoire on projects near and far. Payne’s frequent location manager, John Latenser V, got Vesay day work on About Schmidt. But it wasn’t until Nebraska that Vesay worked extensively with Payne. Latenser couldn’t join the project at the start, so Vesay took the reins.

“You have to have that ability to bob and weave, change and adapt to the director you’re working with. Alexander is so smart about life, let alone the industry. At his core, he’s a guy who will say to you, ‘What do you think?’ And he’s sincere–he wants to know what you think.”

-Jamie Vesay

Vesay broke down the script’s locations. Having scoured the state for years, he had mental and digital files of countless sites. Since the story revolved around a road trip by father-son protagonists Woody and David, an excursion was in order. Payne, production designer Dennis Washington, and Vesay made the Billings, Montana, to eastern Nebraska trek themselves in an SUV. With steering wheel in one hand, 35-millimeter camera in the other, and legal notepad and pen on his lap, Vesay documented possible locations they came upon. Everyone voiced an opinion.

“My goal is to present options to the director,” Vesay says. “Many things we’ll drive by, Alexander will say, ‘OK, slow down, stop the car–I want to look at this.’ Sometimes you let him discover it. Other times you guide him. As I’m presenting the options, he’s seeing what’s available and saying, ‘Well, maybe it’s that.’ He’s a rare filmmaker willing to change with what’s available and use a location different from his original vision.”

The Nebraska script called for a Wyoming truck stop but Payne didn’t like any. With the SUV’s gas tank nearing empty. Vesay pulled into a combo gas station, bait-tackle shop, and bar that Payne loved. On Downsizing, Payne rejected South Omaha duplexes for one of his old haunts, Dundee.

“You have to have that ability to bob and weave, change and adapt to the director you’re working with,” he says. “Alexander is so smart about life, let alone the industry. At his core, he’s a guy who will say to you, ‘What do you think?’ And he’s sincere–he wants to know what you think.”

Vesay found the abandoned farmhouse the family visits in Nebraska. Payne called it “perfect.”

Instinct and experience help Vesay find things. Besides, he says, “I know where they’re hiding.”

A location’s look might be right, but it must also safely accommodate cast and crew. Access, sight lines, and noise are other considerations.

Choosing locations is just the start. Protocols require filmmakers to secure signed permission from property owners. During production Vesay does owner relations.

Looking to the future, Vesay urges the state to do more to attract film projects that provide steady work to local professionals.

Visit jamievesay.com for more information.


Clean Machines

July 14, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article published in the summer 2015 edition of B2B.

Sure, you can swing through the car wash attached to your local gas station. But as the days get warmer, the line gets longer. Add to that vacuuming up dirt and grime, and wiping down the car interior, and most of us put this necessary chore off for as long as possible.

Enter Kirk Koop of Crystal Blue Mobile Detail. Crystal Blue is a mobile business providing customizable, luxury mobile detailing services at either your home or office. That’s right. Both the car wash and the car detailing services come to you.

“Our services are available in Omaha and the metro area, within reason,” he explains.

Koop started Crystal Blue back in 1997 with just $2,200, which was originally intended for college. Growing up with a passion for cars, Koop picked up and moved to Las Vegas after high school graduation.

It wasn’t exactly the traditional route, but it certainly paved the way for his future. In Vegas, he began working for Total Mobile Detail, a company that provided services similar to what he now offers here. “When I returned to Omaha, I saw an opportunity to fill a need in our community,” Koop says. “I found one client who was willing to allow me to care for his detailing needs and I invested my whole $2,200 into a working detail van, equipment, and chemicals.”

Crystal Blue Mobile Detail, he says, takes pride in its family business values. “We believe that the way we treat the customer is just as important as how we treat the car,” he says.

The company is contracted to provide services for fleets such as all 21 Enterprise Rent-A-Car
locations. To date, Crystal Blue has two vans that detail an average of about 450 cars a month. Of those, 71 are monthly agreements for which Crystal Blue maintains an individual’s car at a set time and place on a weekly basis. “I like to say, ‘You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you do good!’” Koop proclaims.

Crystal Blue has not only grown significantly since its one client and minimal investment, but it has also provided Koop with relationships throughout Omaha. He maintains about 90% of his clients, including that very first, trusting individual, he says.

“We plan on providing our luxury service for many years to come,” Koop says.


Gwen’s Tips: Full-Service Gas Stations

June 20, 2013 by

The few full-service gas stations remaining in Omaha are proud of what they can offer their customers. These six stations tell you in their own words what you can look forward to from their businesses.

“We pump the gas. We also check the tires if they need it, clean the windows, and check the fluids,” says owner Keith Kettelhut. He’s been at Ralston Auto Repair since he was 16, when the gas station had four full-service lanes. They’re down to one lane now, but that’s okay. “There’s only a few of us left here in Omaha,” he says. “We just try to be a small town gas station, not a convenience store.”
Ralston’s Fuel and Services
7701 Main St.

“We’ve been in business since 1964, when full-service was the norm.” Steve Bertagni, owner of Ted’s Sinclair, is proud of the longevity of his business. “We decided to keep the service going, at least at one of our pumps, to take care of older people, people who are disabled—those who want a little service instead of do-it-yourself all the time.”
Ted’s Sinclair
4525 Center St.

“We provide the full-service because it’s needed,” says Bob Fenster, service manager at Buchanan’s BP. “We vacuum the carpets, wash and check tires, check oil and fluids underneath the hood. We also pump the gas.” The station also has an in-service shop for more complete maintenance.
Buchanan’s BP Service Center
7911 W. Dodge Rd.

Aside from having their gas pumped and their windows cleaned, customers at Fred’s Friendly Service should know that if they want anything else done, all they need to do is ask. “I’m proud that the business has been family-owned for 50 years now,” says owner Robert Wackerhagen. His father was Fred, the business’ namesake. “That’s what my dad always said: Friendly service is the most important part.”
Fred’s Friendly Service
2901 Leavenworth St.

“Our ASE-certified technicians still pump your gas, clean your windows, check your tires, and check your vehicle’s fluids.” Jim and Jerry are second-generation owners of M and N Service, a family-owned gas station. “You are going back to a time where people smiled and were genuinely glad to see you. Our old-fashioned values haven’t changed.” Those values go back to the station’s beginning in 1972, when their parents opened the station.
M and N Service, Inc.
12005 Pacific St.

“We offer full-service to help people out,” says Kyle Spicer, manager of Buchanan’s BP Service Center. “Not a lot of people pump their own gas, specifically older folk. The full-service island is what we are most proud of. We normally wash the car and vacuum it out. We also pump the gas. We’re here to provide what they’re unable to do for themselves.”
Buchanan’s BP Service Center
5001 Dodge St.