Fun for Free

Toys for grown ups

Toys for grown ups

Nothing pricks up my ears faster than the word “free”. Several months ago, my Cinematography professor sent out an email announcement listing several free equipment expos during the summer: the JL Fisher Mixer and Barbecue and the CineGear expo, both tantalizingly free and both taking place during the summer months once classes had ended, I signed up right away. Now, I don’t really consider myself to be a cinematographer, mostly because I lack the “equipment vocabulary” to know what kind of equipment is necessary to make what kind of image. But even though these were undeniably cinematography events focused mainly on equipment, I figured it was still worth going to take a look.

“Maybe,” I thought, “I would even learn a thing or two.”

So yesterday was the JL Fisher Barbecue. It was the filmmaker equivalent of spending a day at F.A.O. Schwartz. (Does that date me? Probably. Dang.) Everywhere you looked there were cool toys: techno-cranes, Fisher dollies, car rigs, camera carts, camera lenses as long as my arm, wireless monitors, sliders- and other things that I didn’t even recognize. We got to take a tour of the JL Fisher facility- they make camera dollies and mic booms and have since the 1950’s when they were made out of re-purposed airplane parts. There were also several good panel discussions with ASC cinematographers and about the teamwork between camera operators, focus pullers, camera assistants and dolly grips, which gave me a whole new insight into the kind of teamwork that happens within the camera crew.

So there was plenty to keep a luddite like myself interested. And also free food. Really, really good barbecue food. Leave it to an expo geared towards the camera grip crews to know how to throw a really good barbecue. So good.

If I’d thought about it, I might not have gone because it wasn’t “my element”, and that would have been a terrible shame. I’m beginning to learn that I sometimes it’s better to just go to things when the opportunity presents itself without asking myself whether it is something that I like. It sounds a little counter intuitive, but it does seem to help me be more open minded about trying new things.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 18, 2014.

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