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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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The first flight suit (far right) Gasser produced, which helped launch ANOVOS. (PHOTO: ANOVOS Productions, LLC)

ANOVOS creates movie magic in Milwaukee's backyard




Photo Gallery Gallery: A look at ANOVOS Productions' uniform/costume collection

Cinema and television have burned their iconic images into my being since the first moment I can remember catching a glimpse of celluloid. Perhaps most influential to me are the makeup, hair and fashion trends I see onscreen.

But some people take inspiration a step further and collect actual memorabilia or replicas from the TV shows and films they love. This type of fandom is celebrated at conventions like the upcoming Comic-Con in San Diego and in documentaries like Morgan Spurlock's latest, "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope."

Kenosha's own Dana Gasser is one such fan who shares this love for all things movie/TV history, and has even made it his business. Dana and his business partner, Joe Salcedo, created ANOVOS Productions LLC – a company dedicated to producing the highest-quality replicas of screen-accurate uniforms and props from such shows as "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica."

Dana graciously answered my questions about ANOVOS and the
motivation behind it. Read on and be inspired to follow your dreams and perhaps "boldly go where no man has gone before."

OnMilwaukee.com: Dana, please tell me a little about you, your connection to Milwaukee and a bit about your professional life up to ANOVOS.

Dana Gasser: I was born and raised in Kenosha. After high school, I moved to Phoenix for college. In 1994, during my last year in college, I was given the opportunity to move to Mountain View, Calif., and work for Silicon Graphics, Inc. In 1997, I relocated to the SGI Milwaukee/Chicago sales branch and this is what brought me back to the Midwest.

During this year, I began to pick up a hobby of recreating movie props and costumes specifically dealing with sci-fi movies – "Star Wars" at first. Because of the boom of the internet (thank you technology) there were sites coming out sharing information on how original TV/movie props and costumes were designed and constructed.

ANOVOS started in 2009 from my hobby obsession. Every first Saturday of the month I would drive to Elgin, Ill., to a company called ACME-Design, Inc. and they would host an event for people to come bring their prop and costume projects in to show off or work on them. I met a lot of extremely talented and amazing people who helped me learn and hone my skills – and built some even better friendships.

One of these people became one of my closest friends and business partner, Joe Salcedo.

Joe and I both have a deep passion for building and creating movie props and costumes as accurately as possible. One day we discussed recreating a costume from the 2004 TV show "Battlestar Galactica." It was a dark green flight suit that the Viper and Raptor pilots wore on the show. I had just started watching the series and loved the show, but I wasn't so sure about taking the time to recreate the flight suit because it was relatively new and not much information was out to the public on how to re-create it.

After locating a few items, I couldn't stop researching the parts for this uniform. It took over a year, but with the help of a small group of friends we were able to locate and obtain all of the exact parts down to the fabrics, snaps, buckles and zippers to construct this suit – all with no help from a studio or costume designer.

The next step was learning how to sew. Yep, that's right! I had never sewn anything this complicated before or made a pattern for something to wear. So, with the help of my lovely girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife ... love you sweetie!) I started developing the skills necessary to construct this very complicated uniform.

Fast-forward a few months and I had constructed a handful of uniforms that were so close accurate, it was extremely difficult to tell the difference between a "Screen Used Costume" and the "Replica Uniform" I had constructed.

As the "Battlestar Galactica" TV series was winding down, I was kindly asked if I would help catalog items for an auction being held for items used on the show. I flew to Vancouver, Canada, and I was able to meet most of the show's crew members.

One person in particular who I was looking very forward to meeting was Glenne Campbell, the costume designer. I had brought my uniform with me in hopes of showing her the one I had created. Meeting her was one of my most memorable parts of the trip.

Next, Joe and I were asked to come to the BSG Auction in L.A. and help with the costume portion. One thing we realized at the event was that a lot of the people wanted to purchase costumes in hopes of being able to wear these items, but couldn't afford the price of a "Screen Used" item from the show.

This is where Joe and myself came to an epiphany that there was a large population of fans (like ourselves) who would like to have a replica costume that was built and constructed the same way as a "Screen Used" item, but would be a fraction of the cost. So, we went to work to see how feasible it would be to get a license from the studio to do it legally and recreate some of the costume pieces from "Battlestar Galactica" exactly like they did for the TV show.

After extensive research on the products and cost analysis, we met with the appropriate channels at NBC/Universal Studios and CBS/Paramount Pictures to discuss bringing our business idea to life. After months of negotiating and learning what could be achieved, we were thrilled to secure licenses from CBS/Paramount Pictures for the "Star Trek" franchise and with NBC/Universal Studios for 2004's "Battlestar Galactica."

In 2010 we made our first public appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con and we couldn't have been happier with the public's response.

OMC: Where is ANOVOS based out of?

Dana Gasser: At this time ANOVOS is based out of Kenosha. It's a perfect,
central place in the U.S. to do business.

OMC: I understand your love of movies is partially what inspired ANOVOS. What's your favorite movie of all time?

DG: I have so many different ones depending on the type, but sci-fi is the top of the list so it goes to "Star Wars," the first movie I saw as a kid.

OMC: And ... TV show?

DG: Oh, this is a tough one. I was a huge fan of the 2004 "Battlestar Galactica" of course, but I also enjoy "Dexter," "Shark Tank" and I really miss "Scrubs."

OMC: What "toys" or replicas did you own from those shows/movies as a kid?

DG: We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but I did have a few toys I remember vividly. "The Empire Strikes Back" Yoda was
a big purchase for me. I had a few of the major characters, too, but getting the Yoda seemed to be a very hard item to get at the time.

The closest thing to a movie replica was a plastic Han Solo Blaster from Kenner. I loved that toy for the longest time, so I had to build myself a full metal replica when I got older!

OMC: Do you personally collect movie/TV memorabilia as an
adult?

DG: Yes, I do. I've trimmed back since the '90s. I have to keep telling my wife: "They are not dolls ... they are action figures!" Feels like I'm living "That '70s Show" all the time. I'm pretty selective with the items I collect now.

OMC: Who are most of ANOVOS' customers? Do you know how they are using their "Star Trek"/"Battlestar Galactica" gear?

DG: Most of ANOVOS' customers are (believe it or not) ordinary, regular people who love and collect movie/television wardrobe and props. They want to have it look exactly like it does on screen. ANOVOS customers usually like to purchase our uniforms/costumes to wear. There are a few customers who like to just display the costumes to complement other pieces in their collection.

We have also assisted studios that may need similar or the same costumes for filming. Most of the time, a production will have a low volume of pieces to be made and usually within a short deadline. Since we sell higher volume we can provide a much cheaper price to the studio to either purchase or rent our pieces out. We have done this recently for a new pilot that has not come out yet for "Battlestar Galactica" called "Blood and Chrome" and we have worked with CBS on "Star Trek" uniforms for the show "The Big Bang Theory."

OMC: There must be a surge of business for you at Halloween or around "Star Trek" conventions and Comic-Con. How do you market for that, and do you attend these events?

DG: We do get a ramp of business for Halloween but the majority of it is because of convention season like Comic-Con. We have been going to Comic-Con for the last two years, recently attended the "Star Trek" convention in Las Vegas and WonderCon in Anaheim. Since Joe and I have been as collectors for years, we knew how to specifically market to our demographic. We also have hired a marketing person to help. The studios have also assisted in getting our name out and we keep pushing. The fan base for these types of products are very close and words gets around pretty fast.

OMC: What are the future plans ANOVOS?

DG: We are planning on expanding into another business we are calling The Novo Geek, that will lean towards the more "Discreet Geek." There is a huge market for movie/TV collectibles that fans can use in their daily life – not necessarily just at Halloween or at a convention.

OMC: Will you be attaining the rights to any more shows?

DG: We just recently obtained a license with Showtime to make some commercially available products for the show "Dexter," and there are hopefully a few other lines we are looking into.

OMC: What about "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" items for some Milwaukee love?

DG: Amazing you should bring this up. I was in New York not too long ago at CBS to talk about the "Star Trek" license and a discussion did come up about the "Laverne & Shirley" license – knowing I was from the area. I was asked if I would know anyone interested in obtaining the license for it in Milwaukee because it would be a perfect fit for the location, of course. So, if anyone is interested in obtaining the rights to do this, I can get you in touch with some great people at CBS. I would love to see a replica "Arnold's Diner" or similar sets and they could serve "Shotz" beer.


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