The Walkie Check- A holistic talk with creatives

Go for Colette Gabriel

August 27, 2021 Layne Marie Williams & Kat Gorospe Season 1 Episode 3
The Walkie Check- A holistic talk with creatives
Go for Colette Gabriel
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we chat with the incredible Colette Gabriel. Take a listen as Colette shares her journey thus far in her film career behind the camera. Learn tips and tricks for renting out the best gear you can for your project from this expert at  Keslow Camera.

Colette Gabriel has been an active member of the filmmaking community for nearly 20 years.  Her focus has always been on cameras, from working on set as a film loader in Hollywood to running Keslow Camera Chicago.  She also volunteers her time as a board director of Filmscape Chicago, the midwest’s only trade show dedicated to providing free education and resources to the film and television community.

Additionally, we chat about Filmscape Chicago a wonderful event that will be taking place in Chicago (in person & virtually!!) Aug 28 & 29th in Chicago. Be sure to check it out to learn more about the latest & greatest film gear out there while connecting with like-minded professionals in the film industry. You don't want to miss it!

Host: Layne Marie Williams

Show Sponsor: Filmscape Chicago
Filmscape's 2021 show is right around the corner, this August 28 and 29th! Filmscape brings together top manufacturers, local professionals, and instructors - and every part of it is completely free. This year, they are offering classes on everything from lighting, grip and camera to intellectual property law, audio, and virtual production! There's really something for everyone.

Graphics/Logo: Brynne Wassel
Music By: Devin Delaney & Noisefloor LTD

Speaker 1:

Hello, and welcome to the walkie check. Hey folks. Welcome to the walkie check. I'm Kat gross. Be a script supervisor from Chicago and I'm LaMer Williams, a film director in Los Angeles, California. We're super excited to be working with our friends at noise floor to bring you the most creative and talented people out there, there to share their experiences, knowledge and power. On this episode, we do not have our beautiful cat joining us. She is working full time on a union show right now. So I will be leading this interview solo. So today we're here with Colette Gabriel and she's an active member of the filmmaking community. And she has been for 20 years. Her focus has always been on cameras from working on set as a film loader in Hollywood to running Caslow camera Chicago. She also volunteers her time as a board director of film scapes , Chicago. The Midwest's only trade show dedicated to providing free education and resources to the film and television community. Okay . The walk you check is brought to you by film scapes , Chicago film scapes 2021 show is right around the corner. This August 28th and 29th film scape brings together top manufacturers, local professionals, and instructors. And every part of it is completely free. 100%. Every single class is free for anyone to attempt this year. They are offering classes on everything from lighting, grip, and camera to intellectual property, law, audio, and virtual production. There's really something for everyone. Go for it .

Speaker 2:

Well, hello. Hello and welcome back to the walkie check today. We are here with Collette Gabriel, very, very wonderful woman, and the industry in Chicago. And we are super excited to hear more about her story, her background, as well as a super cool event. That's taking place August 28th and 29th in Chicago in person also, there's a virtual element too . That's film scape Chicago. So definitely check that out and you'll hear more soon. So Collette, when it comes to all things camera, you're an expert, you've run a business that is literally renting all the best quality gear to filmmakers out there. How did you find yourself in that situation?

Speaker 3:

I went to Columbia college here in Chicago. I studied cinematography and wanted to get into that, then found myself in LA. Um , because at the time the industry here really wasn't much. We didn't have the incentives that we have now. And , um, things were just had quieted down from a previous era of a great amount of filmmaking. So went out to LA because that's what you do. And , uh, it was fantastic. And I learned a ton and I worked hard and met a bunch of people and got the camera union and all of that. And then just kind of found that I didn't want to be on set full time . I love it. I think it's, it's a lot of fun. Um, but it's also for everybody talks . Yeah. It's really tough on your body. I mean, at 25 I developed tendinitis in both Achilles and , uh , had a hard time standing for a bit. So just had to kind of reevaluate what my role would be in the industry because I'm still definitely want it to be a part of the film industry and still loved cameras. So ended up back in Chicago and , uh, after a few years of sort of figuring out what path I wanted to take Robert Teslow , uh , founder of castle camera got connected to me through some people and , uh , setting is opening up an office here at Cinespace film studios and wanting to know if I wanted to run it. So , um, nine years later I just had my nine year anniversary. Um , here I am so

Speaker 2:

Happy anniversary. Thanks.

Speaker 3:

So it's just been great to still be able to work with all the equipment. I mean, I think that for me, I liked , I liked the technical side of things, but then also the creative side. So , um , get to be here to help DPS and ACS and everybody makes sure the technical side is, is taken care of so they can see their vision come through. I mean, lane , right? You've been one of our clients and so exciting to see your growth. And I can't wait to see your projects, you know , your future projects come

Speaker 2:

Out well, thank you. I appreciate that . Yeah. I'm, I'm super excited that we got to work together recently. We did two different projects together. One's like a TV show and then the other is a feature film. I wish I could say more, but I can't really, it's amazing how, like you just find yourself in certain situations with your career where you're like, oh, I can't share any stills. Okay. Got it. No , that's good . Right.

Speaker 3:

That's a great place to be when you have to keep things secret because they're that big and exciting

Speaker 2:

And hopefully leading to the next thing. One thing I really wanted to talk about that I thought our listeners would benefit from was what's some of the like rookie mistakes that you see arise when filmmakers are trying to rent gear or, you know, how do you sort of help them pick out the best gear for their project? Cause it's always, you know, depending on what your project is, it could be Fastly different. What are some of the early mistakes that you see go down that would be helpful for us to know when we're trying to rent from

Speaker 3:

You? The one thing I would say is, you know, less the camera side of things, and we're just dealing with everything. You know, the production side of things is just making sure that you have insurance, insurance squared away, insurance for films , um , is a little different than insurance for your car. Um , the way it's structured and written out. And so , um, highly recommend just going with a, an insurance agent who understands the type of insurances needed for productions. And then once you do that, once you line up with someone who is familiar with that, they know exactly how to word everything and put it together and make sure everything is covered. You know, sometimes, unfortunately it comes down to the wire and we're ready to give the gear to the crew, but , uh, you know, have to make sure that it's covered when it leaves our office. So , um, that's just one thing that, you know, usually , uh , ends up working out fine, but it can be very frustrating, especially when people, when they're dealing with that at the last minute. So definitely start looking into that early. I think another thing that, you know, I give a lot of tours to , uh, students from colleges. And , uh, one thing that I like to tell them is, you know, we're here to help guide you and, you know, discuss what gear might be good for you, but we're not going to lay it all out for you, but also don't feel so intimidated. Like, oh, I have to know exactly what I want and come in and say, yes, this is it. We will talk you through it and suggest, you know, Hey, these lenses might be better for what you're trying to do. Or, you know, I think it's just important to have an open conversation. Um, but ultimately, you know, most cinematographers come to us kind of knowing ballpark, at least what they want, or maybe they have a dream and that's not available. So we can kind of suggest that runner up . That might be good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think that's like, that's the biggest thing about filmmaking that you discover very quickly as you, your career progresses, that gear is extremely expensive and depending on what the market currently looks like, I feel like different camera bodies and lenses are the new hot commodity, and I'm sure you are listening to that talk all day, every

Speaker 3:

Day , everybody wants the new toys, right. And , uh, we all want to play with fun, new stuff. And , uh , and it's great. Um, but sometimes it's not the right choice for your project, but, you know, I think that it would , a lot of people do is, you know, on a commercial, you know, we're only shooting 1, 2, 3 days. It's easier to be able to try something new, you know, try lenses that you haven't been able to use on a feature film. Um, but you can kind of experiment a little more with a commercial or a music video or something. So we see a lot of that and then people know what they're like in, you know, in real life. You know, it's one thing to just sort of do a lens test in a controlled environment, but to see how they play on set , um, with different lighting and everything is kind of fun to see. And then you can jot that down in your mind to know, okay, that would be good for this style of project. We always get the latest and greatest toys as soon as we can, but sometimes it's slow to come out. Everything is, you know, really like hand-built and takes a long time to put out. So , um, you know, there might be one or two lens sets of a new type of lens for months before someone else can get another set in . So it's hard. What would you

Speaker 2:

Say the current hot commodity it thing to rent right now is it goes low.

Speaker 3:

Large format is , is king right now. So people, you know, any sort of large format lenses that people can get their hands on. They're wanting to do that. And then the issue has been that, you know, large format cameras came out, but it takes a lot longer to come out with lenses that are the same size as well. And just, you know, the manufacturing, I mean, we'll hear about a new set of lenses, but it won't be ready to use for a year, year and a half. Um, so there are a lot more options now out there and there are more coming, so it's , it's getting a little better where there's, there's some more variety, but yeah, Sony, Venice is still king for cameras right now. And a close second would be the Alexa mini LF cameras. The thing that's interesting to me is that the Sony Bennis camera came out. I think that there were some people that were hesitant, they thought Sony, you know, just plastic digital, like reality style camera. Right. And it wasn't, it's like , uh , amazing, like real true cinema camera, but some people jumped on board right away and not everybody did. And so it was kind of a sleeper hit in a filter, right. It just kind of sat around and then, I mean , didn't sit around, but there were not as many people using it as now. It's like all the rage , it just snowballs and everybody wants it and they realized how fantastic of the camera . So

Speaker 2:

It sounds like we'll be saying a lot more content made with the Sony Venice and we asked them . Yeah , yeah. Um, yeah, I know the, the LF lenses in particular, I think the issue was like you needed to have some kind of special adaptor or was something like that. If I'm right, you

Speaker 3:

Need the sensors exercise to match up, but then there are some adapters so that you can use , um , like non large format lenses, super 35 lenses on large format cameras that expand the image area. Um, so yeah. Uh , and then certain ones, you know, airy , uh, came out with a new style Mount to go with large format. Um, and so the lens is that they came out with our a different mountain , but then you can get adapters to make them work with other cameras. And that sort of, they're trying to push the trend that direction. So we'll see where that goes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I , I love this kind of talk. I could literally do it with you all day, just talking about gear. Um , and we love it. It's just, you just always learned so much and it's just, you know, it's not something that I feel like we always get to talk about. So, you know, so much of, at least my career thus far, like, yes, we've definitely spent a lot of time talking about the gear, but I feel like you're just trying to get the thing to the thing so that it becomes a thing and that that's been the most grueling part of all. So I just love taking it and talking about gear . So thank you for indulging me today.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Anytime are you originally from California? Yeah, I grew up in Berkeley, California outside of San Francisco. And , uh, I, I have a lot of family in the Midwest. My dad's from Wisconsin, my mom's from Cleveland. So I would come and visit family in the summers, you know, every few years. So I knew Chicago a little bit. And then when I was looking for colleges, I didn't want to go to LA and New York seemed a little too , too intimidating for me at the time. So Chicago seemed great. I was to live here and my dad lived here when he was in his early twenties. And then I had some cousins here. So there was a little bit of a safety net fell in love with Columbia and came and did their cinematography program. And then they have a program called semester in LA and it helps you transition out to the LA world. Um, so I did that at my very end of school. And so that's , that's what brought me back out to LA. I grew to like LA too . Um, although I do like Chicago more, so, which is why I'm here, but LA is definitely has a place. Yeah ,

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it does that. It does. I was , uh, interviewing Ashley Joyce this morning. And , um , we were just talking about, I of course, like brought up LA in Chicago and just said, you know, everybody always talks a lot of smack about LA. Um, so you know, now that I'm here for myself and hear myself to see it all and I , you know , I'm visited, but now that I really live here, I think the smack is unnecessary.

Speaker 3:

Everybody has to find their place. Right. You know, and, and, and see where, where they fit the best. And , um, you know, like I said, I , I worked a lot in LA and really enjoyed it and, you know , I have great friends still out there and , uh, and I go out multiple times a year for Keso , um, and then get to see friends. And it's amazing how much it's grown. Um, since I've been there and changed, I feel like LA has gotten much better. So I like it better other than, of course the getting more so with more people. But , um, there's just like so much more of a restaurant scene and the , um, neighborhood vibes going on. There's just more stuff to do where I felt like there was less of a sense of community for me when I was there and I don't like to drive. So I prefer biking everywhere and public transportation. So Chicago fit that bill , but , um, but I do miss the mountains

Speaker 2:

Was filming them during COVID.

Speaker 3:

I think everybody would say it's busier than ever in Chicago. I mean, I think all over, you know, I'm really connected to all of a puzzle camera offices, which are all over the U S and Canada. So I'm kind of pretty familiar with the way the markets are going. And it's, I mean, it's been pretty crazy all over. I think that it just comes down to the fact that our industry got together and sat down and figured out how we can do this. You know, we couldn't not work forever. So we needed to figure out how we could safely get back to work. You know, they've proved that the standards set in place work my office in particular, we've been back here for over a year. So, you know, it was really only a few months that we were hunkered down, you know, trying to, you know, just get by for a few months, you know, you look at other industries and, and they've struggled. Um, certainly, you know, we're not without our strugglers in , in this industry, but, but yeah, I mean, it's worked, you know, looking at all the productions here , uh, there obviously have been, you know , COVID cases that have shut down production or, or at least , uh, you know, had to quarantine groups of people. But fortunately I haven't heard any of any , um , severe cases here in town , um, and everybody's been able to get through and keep working. So, yeah, it's, I think it's gone really well. Um, man , I think before we started recording, I was just talking about how many commercials are shooting right now. You know, there's so many new TV shows along with the ones that have been around for a number of years here. So it's, it's super busy. There's a feature coming into town soon. Um , another pilot, we just finished a pilot it's , it's great to see and , uh, it's great to see everybody

Speaker 2:

Working. That's great. That's super good to hear. I, I always get excited, especially since the pandemic of just hearing people feeling like they're kicking up some dust, you know, so film, scapes, Chicago, how would you get involved? And what has the birth of that been like? And for our listeners film, scapes , Chicago is a really wonderful event. That's going to be in-person this year with a virtual element. Um, I've been a part of that in the past and always had a great time. Yeah. Call it, take it away for

Speaker 3:

Those don't know. Um, we're essentially , uh , an industry trade show, but our key focus on education. Um, and it's very important for us to provide the education for free. So , um, we partner with , um, various , uh, film vendors to come in and they bring their latest gear and show that off, which is fantastic. Um, but then also , um , lend their experts to teach classes , um, during the event. So it's a two day events , August 28th and 29th. And they're all kinds of classes from , uh, you know, Lenz , flaring class to some sound classes. Uh, some post-production classes , legal basics of filmmaking has been one of our hottest classes every year. So we always bring that one back. We started , um, smaller, there've been a few kind of slightly different iterations, you know, so I don't know exactly how many years ago, but , um, started as a one day event. And it was really just a grip and electric event and showing off that gear and people coming. So it was a, it was a smaller trade show that , uh , had some success and I would just supply cameras to go on the cranes and things that they were showing off. And , um, we thought, well, let's expand this to also include camera vendors and a little more of that. Um, and then start having classes and everything. So , um, so yeah, we started growing with camera element and then , um, we just keep adding onto it more and more. So , um, if you attend the event , there's a feedback survey at the end. Um, we're always looking for suggestions on what type of classes that people want to have and type of vendors, so we can grow it even more. Last year, we had a , um , special effects makeup class. So just really, you know, we want it to be all encompassing for the film industry for the last couple of years, it's been a two day event. Um, of course last year we couldn't have it in person. Um, but we were able to put it together digitally. And we were one of the only trade shows that did so, and , uh, it was fantastic. The response we got and we had people from numerous countries joining in. So it was great that we could reach a wider audience to join in on this classes. So that's why we do want to keep some of it digitally this year. So everything will be in person. However, some of the classes will be broadcast live. So if you want to sign up digitally, if you're not in Chicago, or if you don't feel comfortable coming to the live event, you can sign up for them digitally. And when you sign up, you'll see which classes are available online versus in-person awesome.

Speaker 2:

And that's all taking place at a SIM space .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Um , so my , uh, Kessel office is that Cinespace , um, and Cinespace has really, you know, has their purpose been to provide stages to film on, but to also just be a production hub for the city of Chicago. Um, so there are a number of different here. Um, and then they are advocates for the industry to help grow it. So , um, they were happy to come on board to, to host us. We have space right in the center of the studio , um, where all the classes are held. So if you come , um , and you haven't been to the studio, you get a little peak in the world hair , which is pretty awesome.

Speaker 2:

It's such a good energy being in, in the Cinespace lots like anytime I'm ever there, I'm just like, ah , I can just like feel the hope and creativity and yeah. Um , I'm a big fan. So go check it out. Film scape , Chicago, August 28th and 29th taking place at Cinespace Chicago, go check out some workshops for free and participate digitally

Speaker 3:

To have it already come. We have a wide range of people coming from film students, or just people interested in the industry. You know, not everybody has the opportunity to go to film school. And we recognize that and want to give you, you know, the best education that you can as well, and be a little part of that. Um, the classes are only, you know, an hour or so long, but , um, certainly pack a big punch in those classes. So , um , trying to provide, you know, whatever we can to really help , uh, grow, grow our community here. Um, but then we have, you know, tons of union members and, you know, industry veterans that come in. So it's , it's really a lot of fun to see the whole community. And it's a good networking event . Um, we are still in COVID , uh, we are requiring masks for everybody. It will be taking place inside and outside. Um, a lot of the inside spaces is pretty open as well, so we feel really comfortable that , uh, that'll be , uh , a safe event for the weekend. Yeah . It's really excited to do it again in person.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think you guys , I think you'll have a great turnout. I really do. I can feel it. People are probably chomping at the bit to go network and see one another and do some film things. Um, yeah, it's a great opportunity to just go get brush up on your skills, learn something you didn't know before. I remember in past years, like walking by , uh , the airy booth and they were using lenses and had created this sort of like wire iridescent filter that they were putting on top, on top of the lens and shooting through it. And they showed us on a monitor what it looked like. And it was just like , uh , another moment in time where I was like, oh, like, that's another cool tool to be able to do the kind of work I want to make, you know, that you can always experiment, you know, go, go check it out, get inspired. It's an opportunity to go spend the end of the summer with , uh, people in your industry, regardless of what level you're at. One thing I wanted to ask you as well is let's say we have a listener that has never rented camera gear before, you know, wants to make their first film. What would the process look like for them

Speaker 3:

Call us up ? Um, you know, we're, we're always willing to work with the , you know, everybody and see what we can make work for your budget and , and just looking at what your project is, but, you know, it's important to be, you know , organized and , and have a plan of what you want to do and , uh , have a team that you're collaborating with. Don't try to do this on your own. I mean, that's one of the amazing things about the film industry is the collaboration process. If you're just starting out happy to kind of talk to you about dreams versus , uh , what's a little more realistic to achieve in the end. It, you know, coming from a camera side of things, if it , if you have a cinematographer, you know, with great vision and skills that can, they can make something that looks beautiful with any gear. Um, so, you know, happy to kind of work with everybody on that. But yeah, I mean, just, don't be afraid to , to jump in, but you know, the organization and ski and, and, and just talking things out with your team too ,

Speaker 2:

If you had any words of wisdom to impart on aspiring filmmakers from any level, what would it be

Speaker 3:

If you're passionate about it, you know, just listen to listen to that passion inside and don't let people stop you. I mean, you know , you just have to keep pushing it, what you want. Um, you know, I discovered that I wasn't that passionate about being my own cinematographer and that, you know, still photography was more what I was interested in because on a personal level, I like working on my own where, you know, I love the collaborative process of filmmaking. Um, but you know, I like being a part of that, but not being the sort of the lead in that, you know, and it is . So you just have to, you know, go with your gut and know , know what you want, and don't be afraid to experiment too and try and fail. You know, I mean, most people don't succeed on their first try of, you know, starting a business or, you know, their first film isn't necessarily going to be a masterpiece, but , um, practice makes perfect. I mean, you have to work at it, give it a shot, don't say no to opportunities. You know, sometimes you might think that it's not worth your time, but you generally will learn something on everything you do. So, you know, say yes to helping so-and-so out on their, on their job or taking a job that might not, you know , exactly the way you want to go, but you'll certainly meet people and learn a little bit more about what you do . Well, thank

Speaker 2:

You so much. That was inspiring. I needed to hear some of that. Speaking of a home, you're talking about your home and I just felt like we needed to make sure our listeners who live on a boat when your husband live on a boat. It's , um, it's a beautiful boats and you're there all year. Right. I know we're kind of crazy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . We've lived aboard for seven years and , um , just , uh , I don't know, we like alternative living and , uh, it's been a lot of fun and we have no regrets and we can't imagine living on land. Um, yeah. Um, and , uh, we did actually start a YouTube channel , um, this , uh, past winter to, you know, cause people ask us questions all the time. Um, so we thought, well, we should just share that on video. So , uh , if you're interested in that it's water rethinking , uh, is our YouTube channel. So yeah. Little little time.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Water you want , are you thinking

Speaker 3:

Water ? We thinking CR so, yeah, I guess there's a little bit of filmmaking, although , um , my husband, Kevin does most of the work. Um, so he works freelance. So he , uh, it's, it's taken a lot of times to , to constantly be editing, editing videos and everything, but it's, it's a lot of fun to share what we're doing. Nice.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And it's always good to have like impersonal endeavors that fill your cup in a different way. You know, like I've found that to be the most important part of being a filmmaker is like, I have enjoy your life. You know, it's like really very simple, but it's such an easy thing to neglect or, you know, not check in was like gratitude on.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I guess on that note, you know, in a , and in parting my infinite wisdom , um, you know, it's just making sure that you find balance, which is hard in this industry, especially if you're working on set and working 14, 16 hours in a day, it can be really tough. So you really have to check in with yourself and find time for yourself within that too. Well, thank you so much. This was, it

Speaker 2:

Was so great. Seeing your face again. It's been a year, at least at least a year. So

Speaker 1:

Thank you for having me. Thanks for coming on. Thanks so much for tuning in to the walkie check. Big thanks to noise floor LTD, our executive producer. You can give us a follow on at the walkie check as well as at legacy Marine pictures.