Hello! Andrew Schmidt here, the new hire at Eleven04. A few weekends ago I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Filmscape along with several other members of the team. Filmscape is an annual film and television production trade show featuring booths from all major equipment brands, live demonstrations of new offerings, and classes on a wide range of subjects here in Chicago. The event took place over by Cinespace stages 16, 17, and 18. 

I went to a small liberal arts college where the sole focus in film production was screenwriting, so it goes without saying that my knowledge of film production is spotty at best. Walking onto my first ever studio lot was truly overwhelming -- the streets were lined with booths each displaying a selection of gear beyond my wildest dreams. Some of the gear I’d used on the rare occasions I had the budget to rent equipment, some I’d read about in magazines, and some I’d never even heard of. Then, one of the Panavision representatives invited me over to actually get hands on their DXL2! What do you do when someone just hands you a camera that rents for $1000/day? I couldn’t think of a single good question to ask besides “so what do these buttons here do?”

This brings me to the really fun part of Filmscape -- the complementary relationship between the demo booths and classes happening simultaneously. Fairly soon after my somewhat embarrassing exchange with the Panavision representative, I had the opportunity to hear the same man give a 45 minute overview of all the technical aspects of the camera, as well as their effects on the creative process. Immediately following that lecture, I had the chance to go back to the same demo booth and, this time armed with at least a shallow understanding of the camera, properly experiment with the camera. This time around I could appreciate the camera’s unique color science, it’s ability to record HDR, the sensor architecture, and its modularity. 

In addition to these very specific and technical lectures, Filmscape offered classes on a variety of other topics, from set rigging to wireless DMX to assistant camera basics. As a current AC who wants to be a DP when he grows up, it was really valuable to even just dip my toes into grip and electric, to learn some of the terminology, some of the habits, some of the concerns. In the Wireless DMX class I learned that a respectful DP should manage the frequencies their camera department is using, lest they really hamper the gaffer’s wireless lighting controls. In the portable power class I learned that when location scouting, it’s important to also find a suitable location for the generator, so that when everyone shows up on set you’re not suddenly stuck running so much cable that the voltage drop renders your LED lights useless. 

Overall, the allure of Filmscape is primarily that of community. The event brings together people from across the union and independent worlds to a place where the common goal is to learn, ask questions, simply experience more things. As someone new to the city, as well as the industry, it was an amazing start to this chapter of my life, and I’m excited to see how my experience of the event changes year after year, because rest assured, I will be back.

Cover photo by Filmscape.