Movie-making is an art that looks easy on the surface, but becomes more challenging the more you learn to do it well. As most people who’ve shot a home movie learn, simple acts such as filming a two-person dialogue require the careful tweaking of camera positions, sound editing, lighting, and so on. Aspiring filmmakers must learn a thousand little skills in order to turn their actors, scripts and stage into a crisp and compelling performance.
Chicago Filmmakers, a workshop and screen center located on 5243 N. Clark Avenue, is a place where film students pick up those thousand little skills. Wedged tightly between an antique goods and jogger supply store, Chicago Filmmakers provides film processing services, classes, and periodic screening of independent and artistic films.
People who visit Chicago Filmmakers will first enter a dimly lit foyer with red curtains and velvet seats, resembling the main lobby of a classical theater. Further in they’ll find a room with seats, screens, and a modern digital projector, classic film projectors on display to the side. A nearby hallway hosts a row of classrooms, computer labs with large screen projectors and film-editing software. Here visitors might see a classroom of students watching a short film they shot, acted in, and edited. After the viewing, they talk about the filming experiences with their instructor; how it went, what challenges they faced, what they did well, what they’d do differently, etc.
Classes like these usually run for a six-week time period at Chicago Filmmakers, covering topics such as actor directing, digital editing software, interviewing, screenwriting, cinematography, audio work and more. Chicago Filmmakers also organizes a bi-monthly event called the Filmmaker Meetup!, a social space for independent filmmakers to network, search for profesionals to recruit to their crews, and collaborate on projects. The next Filmmaker Meetup occurs on November 26th, and costs $5 for the general public to attend.
This October, Chicago Filmmakers will also host screening events that feature independent experimental films and animations. The “Open Screening” event on the 18th allows attendees to bring in any 20-minute, family friendly film, documentary, animation, or experiment for public viewing. “The Fiction Distance” event on the 25th features professional animated films that mimick famous artistic styles, ranging from Italian Futurism and Japanese Woodblocks to German Expressionism and the ‘Raygun Gothic’ aethstetic of 1930 science fiction serials.
Chicago Filmmakers caters to local independent filmmakers in the Chicagoland area, as well as those who wish to get involved in the independent filmmaking scene. This film educational center helps professionals and amateurs tell unique stories that touch on the culture and people of Chicago, addressing the hopes and dreams of audiences that big-studio films can’t focus on.