Chicago Actors Star in Orientation Film for Chicago Dental Society Mid-Winter Meeting

"I love the smell of dentistry in the morning": Greg Hollimon and Michael Wollner explain how to get to and get around McCormick Place West

Two Chicago actors star in a humorous short film that explains how to navigate McCormick Place West, the newest addition to one of the largest convention facilities in the world.

Chicago Dental Society (CDS) commissioned the five-minute orientation film in advance of its 145th annual Midwinter Meeting, which will bring more than 30,000 dental professionals to Chicago Feb. 25-27.

"Finding Your Way at McCormick Place West" launched on YouTube Feb. 22. (YouTube link: http://bit.ly/mcwest)

The film stars Michael Wollner and Greg Hollimon, both improv actors based in Chicago. Hollimon is best known for his role as Principal Onyx Blackman in Comedy Central's "Strangers with Candy." Wollner's voice may be familiar from his extensive voiceover work, including numerous commercials and cartoons. Chris Bayard of Junetwenty Films shot and produced the film.

"The Midwinter Meeting had been held at McCormick's Lakeside Center for more than 15 years, so we wanted to alert people to some very major changes in moving to a new building," said Keri Kramer, CDS director of communications. "The layout of a tradeshow is not exactly scintillating, so we knew we'd have to be a bit unconventional -- for dentistry, at least -- and funny in our approach."

Hollimon plays a drill sergeant who shows Wollner, a dentist, around McCormick Place West. The new building opened in 2007, adding 460,000 square feet of exhibit space and 250,000 square feet of meeting space to the McCormick Place complex.

Filming took place Feb. 9 at McCormick Place West, during a lull between tradeshows and right after a big snowstorm. The shoot took 12 hours, ending around 7 p.m. at Kramer's home, where the opening kitchen scene was filmed.

"We've worked with Chris on other projects before and were really pleased with the crew he was able to bring together," said Kramer. "We encouraged the actors to improvise and have fun with it, the result being that a 12-hour shoot went by pretty quickly."

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Excerpt from "Finding Your Way at McCormick Place West"

Sergeant (Greg Hollimon): "To go from east to west on the first level, you have to go up to third level, then take the elevators and escalators on the opposite side, take the stairs back down to level one, then, bam! You're there. Got it?"

Dentist (Michael Wollner): "No. Does any of this up to go down make any sense to you?"

Sergeant: "Do I look like an architect to you? Is 'Frank Lloyd Wright' written across my forehead? There are plenty of maps and signs all over the place to help you if you lose your way."

Dentist: "There's just so much to absorb. I could really go for a cup of coffee and a bear claw about now. [Sees sergeant's scowl.] Or a bran muffin and a fluoride rinse."

Sergeant: "There are plenty of places on the second floor to help you stuff your craw, or you can visit the café located smack dab in the middle of the exhibit floor on level three. [Scrutinizes dentist.] You might visit the health screening while you're up there. Really."