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Interview: Chicago Native Aims To Match NYC, LA Film Scenes - Launches Local Film Institute

Shadow and Act By Kiratiana Freelon | Shadow and Act May 6, 2013 at 2:09PM

Calling all Aspiring Moviemakers in Chicago!
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Emile Cambry
Emile Cambry

Calling all Aspiring Moviemakers in Chicago!

Emile Cambry’s mission is to help elevate the status quality of Chicago’s film community to that of the big dogs—New York and Los Angeles. If he keeps up his current rate, he might achieve that. In the last two years, he has helped launch Chicago Comedy Film Festival and the Chicago Film Festival for Social Change.

Earlier this year, he launched his boldest project, the Chicago Film Institute

The institute’s first project is an affordable 10-week summer film conservatory that will help aspiring filmmakers produce an IMDB qualifying work.

Emile Cambry writes on his website about the Chicago Film Institute:

“The summer conservatory, which will operate out of my technology and entrepreneurship incubator, Cibola, will bring a blended, university-quality, collaborative education to those often unable to access the benefits of traditional arts instruction. Each cohort will create a high-quality, IMDb qualifying film project that will be steps above the typical student film. By combining both exceptional education and professional production in an affordable and supportive environment, the Chicago Film Institute will give Chicagoans an opportunity to learn and create to build a digital portfolio. As far as why this is particularly important for the tech space, we will have film tech hackathons (hardware and software) integrated into the program, as well as 48-hour film competitions, training our cohort on how to use all of the media forms to tell stories.”

Following below is a transcript of a brief conversation I had with Cambry:

How did you get into filmmaking?

I never went to film school! But I've learned by doing, by taking a leap and seeing what happens. I'll never claim to know everything about it, but I do know how to tap into a network of very experienced filmmakers that will add value to the classroom experience. And that same learning by doing, is exactly why we started this program! My business partner went to film school, and brings a completely different experience, so by bringing those two perspectives together, and our experiences of teaching in the university setting, we know we'll have a one-of-a-kind experience.

Why did you decide to start this program? What are you hoping to accomplish with the program?

I wanted to start this program because I've run into countless number of people that want to get into filmmaking and don't have any idea where to start. Learning strictly online can only help them get so far, and the cost of taking a course at a college/university is too cost prohibitive. Although there are some programs that are out there that provide one-day workshops, there isn't as much emphasis on project-based learning and putting together an IMDb ready film. I feel that 21st century learning is about taking affordable classes where you come away with a digital portfolio that you can apply to your careers. And often, the most difficult thing is finishing your first project.

How is the program reaching out to budding minority filmmakers?

The beautiful thing about our program is that our classes are taking place at a diversity incubator on the south side of Chicago, in the most diverse ward in the city. The mission of our incubator is focused on providing a platform for underrepresented minorities. Naturally, it's part of our mission to provide opportunities for minorities. Additionally, we're in the process of creating an endowment which will provide subsidized classes and scholarships for people of the community to take classes. 

Your program says that students will leave with a IMDb quality film under their belt. How is the program going prepare students to make such film?

For one, it's the core part of the program! Both myself and my founder teach at the university level and everything in our program is to help all students leave with a digital portfolio. There's such a barrier between knowing how to use a camera and actually working on a "real" film. By bridging that gap, we hope to inspire filmmakers to take that leap and believe it's possible. There are so many stories that need to be told, especially from minority filmmakers.


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