Last weekend there was a lighting education workshop here in Chicago called Cinetech at Cinespace, the biggest studio in Chicago. They shoot some television shows there, you may have heard of them, some show called Empire, I think that’s on FOX, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Utilities, Chicago Med. and Chicago Public Utilities. Maybe the last one isn’t a show…yet. I digress, this event was really cool, they had a lot of lighting companies there explaining their equipment. Ratpac, a lighting control company that’s become an industry standard when it comes to hooking up lights. What I came away with from their workshop is everything is wireless. Lighting can be managed from your iPhone or iPad, it’s a little expensive but it can cut production time immensely because you don’t have to run cables all of the time. You can adjust multiple lights on your phone or tablet. It makes the one-man team more efficient and faster. The presenter went deep into lighting and the technology behind it. As a writer/director it made me respect gaffers and grips even more. I love to learn, I feel like knowing a little more about someone’s job can make me a better director.
Listen to her whole keynote here.
The keynote speaker was Lisa Wiegand ASC, she’s a rebel, a potty-mouthed rebel. She wore a rock graphic tee with a heart pinned to it, and some Russian boots complete with the hammer and sickle. She shot, Chicago Fire and currently works on Mayan M.C. She told us how she came up in the industry. Shooting short films and low budget features, she thought she needed more education so she went to school for nine years. Perfecting her craft while getting more academic knowledge. She was also teaching which I believe keeps you sharp, she eventually started DPing full-time and got a job on a 24 as the B-camera operator, then took over the second camera unit. Sexism, big surprise, came about as one of the camera operators told crew members that she was sleeping with someone to get the position. Lisa confronted him when he had to work with her and being a spinless jerk-off he denied it. Besides that, she encouraged us to “go where the love is” go where you’re not fighting for your rightful place. I took it to mean don’t go somewhere, where you’re not respected. Your work is too important and if the crew or higher-ups don’t respect what you do, then you’re going to be wasting energy on trying to get that respect instead AND doing your job. Her talk was great and super real.
On the backlot, they had cranes, car-mounted cameras and drones, not the ones with your GoPro, this was the big boy drone with an Arri camera attached. I also saw some fellow filmmakers there so the event I think was successful.
What I learned:
When there’s a social media hashtag giveaway, post on both Facebook and Instagram. They gave away $10k worth of equipment at the end of the event and I posted on Facebook but not Instagram and I think I got cheated out of winning some shit, I don’t have any facts to back that up but I don’t need facts.
Tech is gobbling up filmmaking, everything is becoming wireless and connecting to our smartphones and tablets. Eventually, there will be fewer people needed on a shoot. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just the evolution of filmmaking.
Stay connected with your filmmaking friends and exchange ideas and things that are going on in your circle. When I posted at the event I had some friends didn’t know that it was going on. Had I told them they would have been able to network and learn also.
Reel Chicago: This is where you can find out all the productions happening in Chicago.