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Local film production coordinator relishes role in company "family"

Storytelling Pictures production coordinator Frankie Bailey manages film production details in a city that she says is radically different than the Grand Rapids she left eight years ago.
Frankie Bailey

Frankie Bailey /Courtesy of Frankie Bailey

Storytelling Pictures

801 Broadway NW Suite 433

Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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Bailey, left, instructing actors on set

Bailey, left, instructing actors on set /Courtesy of Frankie Bailey

[This story is the first in a series focusing on the Grand Rapids film scene and the upcoming Grand Rapids Film Festival].

When Frankie Bailey attended a friend’s bridal shower in August 2012, she wasn’t expecting to get a job.

Storytelling Pictures happened unexpectedly and it’s kind of an odd story,” she says. “I met John Evans’ wife at a bridal shower [in Grand Rapids] and we just hit it off. She said, ‘My husband owns a production company and I think you’d be a good fit. We had just moved back to Grand Rapids from northeast Tennessee so it was exciting.”

Soon after the shower Bailey was hired as Storytelling Pictures’ production coordinator – the film company’s website praises her as “making sense out of the artistic chaos we so love to create.” Bailey joined Storytelling Pictures' core team of seven crewmembers, including Grand Rapids Film Festival co-creator and Storytelling Pictures president Corey Niemchick. The company specializes in creating documentaries and promotional films both nationally and internationally and has produced local films for Amway and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

“I don’t have a background in film but I do have a background in details, organization and management,” says Bailey. “I appreciate and love the arts but I’m not the best artist, so this is definitely the perfect job for who I am.”

Managing the crew includes planning and coordinating projects and editing hours for crewmembers. Bailey says that pre-production is “where the fun really begins.” In pre-production Bailey contacts and hires talent, caterers, makeup artists and “grips and gaffers,” in addition to creating the production schedule. On filming days she works to ensure the schedule is kept by managing the workforce.

“I’m lucky to be a part of [a company] that not only creates amazing films but also creates a positive atmosphere that helps cultivate creativity and teamwork,” Bailey says. “Although our crew is small, I work with some very talented people. My coworkers really are like family to me.”

Family was one of the main reasons Bailey returned to Grand Rapids in 2012 after six years in Tennessee. Raised in Rockford, Bailey managed Dunhill Tuxedos on 28th Street before moving south with her husband, who was a touring musician at the time.

“After being in northeast Tennessee for six years we realized there wasn’t much opportunity for us,” Bailey says. “We had the mountains and we could hike and camp but in terms of work opportunity it wasn’t happening. We knew coming back to Grand Rapids we’d have a support system with my family. We also knew we’d have opportunity in this growing city.”

Bailey says that the Grand Rapids she returned to wasn’t the one she left.

“When I was in high school going to Skelletones, [the city] was rundown and there wasn’t much going on,” she says. “Wealthy Street wasn’t what it is now. It’s cool to come back and experience this tremendous growth and positivity. And people here are great. Grand Rapids is so hospitable, and that’s said coming from a southern state.”

Bailey now lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, who continues to write music and has collaborated with Storytelling Pictures on audio tracks. The couple have two children, ages 4 and 1. Returning to her hometown with a family gave Bailey a deeper appreciation for events in Grand Rapids that are family-oriented.

“Last summer our family went to see "Back to the Future" outside [for a Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Movies in the Park event]. It was so much fun to see the sun set and the cityscape, and to watch a movie that’s a classic for us. And [now] we’re ready for spring and getting out to the lake,” she says.

The Storytelling Pictures crew has begun to discuss producing a feature film, and Bailey talks about the future with excitement.

“Last year we were in 15 different countries for projects and this year we’re expecting more of that,” she says. “Our quality in cinematography is very high-end and continuing to grow, and our relationships with clients are great. This is the best job I’ve ever had.”

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