J.L. Fisher Open House

Saturday’s J.L. Fisher Open House 2013 took place on a cloudless, beautiful day in Burbank. This annual event, held at J.L. Fisher’s sprawling complex and stadium-sized parking lot, is sponsored by the SOC, ASC and ICG guilds and supported in part by the participation of dozens of top gear manufacturers, dealers and rental houses.

The Open House, now in its 8th year, is an all-day picnic and celebration for the production community. Unlike most industry events, the festivities are decidedly casual, with families and children welcome. Food and drinks are plentiful, from the traditional large-scale grills offering up endless supplies of hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and BBQ pizzas, to the food truck serving lighter vegetarian fare, to the tables of salads, fruit and sweets. Ice tubs and coolers abound with water, sodas, Gatorade and beer (while it lasts). The sign-in table even has tubes of sunscreen for those who forgot (and woe to those who do). Jim Fisher, Frank Kay and the rest of the Fisher team cover all the bases and make everyone feel at home.

In addition to the eats and treats, Jim Fisher himself leads tours of the sprawling 80,000 sq. ft. facility that holds what could be the world’s largest collection of dollies, booms, jibs, and countless miles of track. Fisher manufactures and rents their own equipment to productions all over the world. Many of Fisher’s parts and components are manufactured in-house in a spacious room full of precision CNC machines, lathes, milling machines and other high tech metal-working tools.

The SOC (Society of Camera Operators) held a seminar moderated by David Mahlmann, SOC on cooperation and communication between Cinematographer, Camera Operator, 1st AC, Key Grip and Dolly Grip. The complexities involved with some moves requires that all individuals be on the same page and be functioning as one, not only to get the shot, but to make sure that everyone is safe as well.

The ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) held a panel discussion moderated by George Spiro Dibie, ASC on a wide range of topics. Speakers included: Oliver Bokelberg, ASC; Frederic Goodich, ASC; Bruce Logan, ASC; Daniel Pearl, ASC; George Spiro Dibie, ASC; Stephen Lighthill, ASC; William Webb, ASC; Checco Varese, ASC; David Perkal, ASC and Isidore Mankofsky, ASC. Of particular interest was the question of the Digital Dilemma. Most agreed that the dilemma is not digital capture but rather the lack of a trustworthy digital archive aftermath.

Exhibitors included: Sony, Canon, Anton/Bauer, 3ality Technica, Panavision, Band Pro, Mole-Richardson, Matthews Studio Equipment, Litepanels, Innovision Optics, Filmtools, OConnor, ARRI, Burrell Enterprises, Sachtler, Hot Gears, Kino Flo, Petrol Bags, Radiant Images, ZGC/Cooke, Local 80, Geo Film Group, Barger Light, Tiffen, The Camera House, Local 695, Tech-no-Jib, Hollywood Rentals, and Backstage Equipment.

Between events the attendees tried out over half a dozen dollies on hundreds of feet of dolly track that weaved circuitously like a manual carnival ride, enjoyed especially by the children who would hop up on the operator seat, put their eye to the viewfinder and holler, “Push me Daddy, push me!”

For exhibitors the event is just as much a social outing, which is a welcome relief to many after the high pressure NAB Show a month earlier. It’s a chance to mingle with the production community as well as other companies and answer a few questions while eating an ice cream sandwich.

It was a great way for all to connect with the industry.

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