AbelCine is busier than most retail establishments at 10 o’clock on a weekday morning. But then again, AbelCine is not like most retail establishments.
Located in a stately redbrick four-story building across the street from Cinespace, the company includes several film industry vendors among its neighbors.
“We encourage people to touch things when they come in here,” says Business and Community Development Specialist Brian Khan. “It’s all about giving filmmakers the opportunity to come and see gear.”
Khan is a graduate of the film school at the University of Windsor. He produced Canadian documentaries and worked in local politics before accepting a position with AbelCine’s Chicago office. He is also, quite possibly, the friendliest person in the zip code.
Besides selling gear to everyone and everything from rental houses to film students, AbelCine also does a huge amount of training.
Megan Donnelly, an active member of the film community, is the fulltime training manager. She’s not only equipped with industry expertise to share, but also capable of finding the right minds for pretty much everything related to filmmaking.
DPs from the shows currently putting Chicago on the national TV map frequently teach classes in AbelCine’s theater, which boasts a pro quality audiovisual display and plush rows of seats. Guest experts also offer small group sessions in the company’s main showroom.
“We just finished another addition of ‘Creative Forces,’ which is a signature Chicago event,” says Khan. “Cinematographers choose clips from movies that inspire their work and break down what they’ve taken from them.”
The program’s recent guests include Directors of Photography from Empire (Paul Summers), Chicago Fire (Jason Caruthers), and Chicago PD (Ron Schmidt).
Today, Canon USA Pro Market Rep Dirk Fletcher is showcasing the Compac Servo 70-200. His presentation is casual and informative, much like AbelCine’s culture.
“The Servo is not shipping until November,” says Khan. “It’s an opportunity to demo something that they may not be available until a rental house in town buys one.”
Offering such a sneak peek is part of the reason AbelCine relocated from Oak Brook Terrace to Chicago Cinespace Studios .
“We want to be a part of the community,” says Khan. “That’s why we do a lot of things with organizations like IFP, MIFF, Stage 18, and Free Spirit Media. We want to be involved.”
AbelCine even allows customers to bring in their own gear for a consultation on how to use it.
“The creators of Drive Slow got their Emira rental package from Keslo, but they did a training here,” says Khan. “Their whole camera department did a class with us.”
A few weeks later, AbelCine hosted its 2017 Chicago Cinema Tech Expo in the grand exhibition space of the building’s second floor. Hundreds attended event. To see who was there, click here.
To read more “Day in the Life of Cinespace,” click here.