SAF3 / BAYWATCH - Greg Bonann
November 14, 2014
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Greg Bonann. I am the creator, executive producer and show runner of “SAF3” (pronounced “safe”). I was also the creator, executive producer and show runner of “Baywatch” for 12 years and 311 episodes.
I am writing this letter on behalf of Warren Gray.
Warren was the first department head hired when I came to Cape Town to produce “SAF3” last year, and what a fantastic person he turned out to be.
SAF3 is a one hour, scripted action/drama, “set” in Malibu, California. It is about the heroes that work for the Malibu Fire Department in the critical and dangerous areas of “Sea, Air and Fire.” Each episode features at least one major “rescue” set within one or more of the elements of: water, fire or air. Sets were critically important and were usually destroyed “in story” as a result of the creative direction of the episode. SAF3 airs in prime time in the United States on the CW network and in 60 territories around the world.
When I landed in Cape Town, I was spread very thin, with many things to do, and very little time to do them. I learned very quickly that I could depended upon Warren to advise me in many critical and volatile areas. He was not only responsible for the “overall look” of the series, all design elements, construction, budgeting, schedule and quality but for helping me do these things within a culture and country that was new to me. He had to anticipate the many challenges related to this as well as to his overall responsibilities to the series ‘look’, schedule and budget.
He also had to take care of everything including, but not limited to, the supervision of a staff, design and construction of our principal exterior and interior sets, and work with the many people inside our company as well as with outside municipalities as he attempted to design and construct the largest structure built in recent memory on the beach at Camps Bay, Cape Town. All of the elements of design and approval were Warren’s responsibility.
This structure was our “home” within the story. It was our Headquarters and where our characters lived and worked. It was critically important that Warren create an atmosphere and environment where the characters could define and center themselves. You must ask Warren to show you pictures of this “Headquarters Set” because it is the best one of it’s kind on any television show in America. I receive compliments, questions and words of praise on a daily basis…. For Warren’s work!
Because of this “Headquarters” set, Warren had to have a very clear appreciation and understanding for working on the beach – how it can affect sound, lighting, camera, and construction. He had to relate to the challenges and then communicate and coordinate his solutions with each of the other department heads.
On a weekly basis, Warren had to work on a new “exterior” location to establish the “scene”, then build that exterior location to suit the “rescue of the week” and then create and build the interior of that location on our stage! Underwater sunken tug boat one week, underground caved in bomb shelter the next week, exploding chemical warehouse the next week, then a helicopter crash in a forest fire… this went on for 20 weeks! He had to maintain that high quality of work, within budget and on schedule for 20 episodes… and he did it beautifully.
Of all of the Production Designers I have worked with in my 30 years and 600 episodes of television, Warren was the best. He was one of the most creative, collaborative, budget conscious, people I have ever worked with.
He works very well with people, is a team player, respected by all, and is extremely well liked. He is a family man of the highest integrity and honesty. I could always count on Warren to do the right thing – I admire him as a person as well as one of the most talented in his profession.
I rely frequently on letters like this when I begin a new project. I have worked all over the world for over 30 years and know good and talented people when I meet them. I want you to know that Warren is worth your time to meet and get to know. If there is anything else I can do on Warren’s behalf, or yours, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Gregory J. Bonann
NOEM MY SKOLLIE / THE WHALE CALLER - DAVID MAX BROWN
1st October 2016
I recommend Warren George Gray as a production designer having recently worked with him on two feature films, which I produced.
One was Noem My Skollie (Call me thief) a realistic crime-drama which has just been selected as South Africa’s entry to the 2017 Academy Awards in the foreign language category. This was a period film set in 1960’s Cape Town with 47 locations in the surrounding townships and city centre but also required sets to be built and the re-purposing of existing sets.
The second film was The Whale Caller an adaptation of a Zakes Mda book of the same name, and which is a stylistic magical realist love story with several complex visual effects sequences for the CGI whale.
Warren comes prepared, works well with the team, has great imagination, ingenuity and talent. He also happens to be a wonderful person and has a great demeanour on set and all the time really.
I wholeheartedly recommend Warren, though I think his work speaks well enough for him.
David Max Brown
Noem My Skollie