Behind the Scenes: The Warehouse

Chances are you’ve heard of House music, but do you know where it’s story began?

Thanks to movie producers like Bob Teitel, Billy Dec, Randy Crumpton and Joe Shanahan, the legendary story of the House music movement will be brought to film for all to see. They are set to begin filming “The Warehouse,” a movie which will pay tribute to the life story of The Warehouse owner Robert Williams and the legacy of Frankie Knuckles’s timeless artistry through the genre known as “House.”

We were able to catch up with the crew who is bringing this movie to life, and we got to hear what they had to say about Frankie Knuckles and this Chicago-based film.

What impact has Frankie had on your own life? What do you look forward to most during this experience?


House was the first genre of music I fell in love with, and Frankie not only started it at The Warehouse, but he was always the best. Although The Warehouse was just before my time, in middle school I’d come home to listen to and tape the newest house mixes on the radio, just sitting there taking it all in and loving it. Before those times in your life, you really only hear music your parents expose you to as a kid… so this love was mine. I loved it so much which is probably why I joined the club scene at a very early age, eventually becoming a door man at “Shelter” at 19, and owning and operating my 1st club at 22…working with the best of the best until this day. Knowing that means I might not be where I am at today if The Warehouse never opened, I am dying to live this experience of recreating what it was, and the worldwide phenomenon of House Music it created.

How do you prep for an experience like this? Being able to be such a big part of “The Warehouse,” by not only Co-Producing, but also acting in it?


I guess I will prep for it like anything else I am obsessively passionate about, first joining forces with the best people in the world to be with like Robert Williams who owned The Warehouse, Frederick Dunson who was Frankie’s best friend and business partner, Producer Randy Crumpton, Frankie’s friend and attorney, Producer Bob Teitel who did “Men Of Honor” and “Barbershop” and Music venue owner and authority on all things music, in my opinion, Joe Shanahan of Metro, Smart Bar and Double Door.. Following their lead and collaborating with them, along with my team at Elston Films that has started to bring more movies to Chicago, will be a definite key way to be prepared.. As for acting, that is a whole different world I need to tap into, with all of the above, and the help of my coach Doug McDade at Actors Studio, will be an amazing and exciting challenge! Which is what I love and excel at most…

Obviously, Frankie left a huge mark in the Genre of House music, how do you plan to help bring this to life in the movie?

Frederick Dunson

By sharing with the world what a brilliant talent he was, what a very humble person he was even before he attained all of the fame and success he did…

Can you share with us what The Frankie Knuckles Foundation means to you? To Chicago?

Joe Shanahan:

I see the legacy of Frankie, and the Frankie Knuckles Foundation in a way that is unique to Chicago and his global impact on music. Keeping the message of his music and the togetherness that he brought to this world alive. The civic aspect of the FKF is the mission statement I also identify with, local events that will feature new DJs and new artists in the tradition that Frankie developed will be exciting to work on and be a part of.

Frederick Dunson

It gives me the opportunity to share globally the love and generous nature of the man that was my best friend for 38 years and a forum to keep his memory alive by giving to causes he supported and by assisting others as he so frequently did.

What impact has Frankie had on your own life? What do you look forward to most during this experience?

Joe Shanahan:

I knew Frankie for 30 plus years, I was fortunate enough to have had him in my life as a friend and also be part of the beginning of Smartbar. The long term residency with him as a DJ, and the nights he filled the dance floor at Smartbar will remain part of the massive impact he had on me and everyone that joined me when played in the club. he was the maestro.

Where are some of the spots you guys will be shooting at in Chicago? How do you locate the best spots to bring this film to life?

Randy Crumpton:

Chicago is such a vibrant city today. So much has changed since 1982. The building where The Warehouse lived weekly is still there. That may be a place for some nice exterior shots.

What does an experience like this mean to you? Not only being able to produce such a great film, but a film that brings to life a legend?

Joe Shanahan:

I plan to keep the historical narrative in place with the help of Frederick and Robert and other Warehouse devotees. I was always aware when I was at the warehouse that I was at a special place with the most exciting, fresh soundtrack. The music and tracks played at the club will be another center of my exploration and work on the film.

Were there any doubts about producing this film? Or did you know right off the bat that this was something you needed to be part of?

Randy Crumpton:

I have wanted to produce this film for a very long time. In fact, I wrote a treatment for it and submitted it to the Sundance Producers Conference in 2004 and was picked to attend. I’ve always found this story amazing and compelling and wanted to be a part of telling it.

How is it producing a movie that is fully based in Chicago?

Bob Teitel:

There’s nothing like shooting in Chicago. You have an amazing talent pool, great crews, and Chicago itself is such a great city that it really becomes a character in the film.

Photo courtesy Barry Brecheisen
Joe Shanahan (Co-producer of “The Warehouse” film and owner of Metro/Smartbar/Double Door), Bob Teitel (“Men of Honor,” “Barber Shop” & co-producer of “The Warehouse” film), Frederick Dunson (President of Frankie Knuckles Foundation), Robert Williams (Owner of The Warehouse), Billy Dec (Elston Films, co-producer of “The Warehouse” film) and Randy Crumpton (Co-producer of “The Warehouse” film and “The Truth”) at The Underground Chicago for “The Warehouse” film launch benefiting the Frankie Knuckles Foundation.

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