Yesterday morning, two strange men whom no one knew or had seen before, but exuding a distinctive laid-back California air, turned up unexpectedly at Cineverse Camera’s office in Goose Island and asked to see Tom Fletcher.
When they left a couple of hours later, the staff was in shock. They had flown in from LA to personally fire two key employees: Tom Fletcher, who handled marketing and national sales rep, Zoe Borys.
Fletcher and Borys packed up their personal items, hugged their colleagues of long standing goodbye and drove away in their respective cars to ponder what just happened and, of course, their futures.
Neither Fletcher nor Borys were available for comment.
Informed sources, however, have supplied what is a likely backstory to the shocking termination of two people who lived and breathed cinematography and worked diligently and honorably to serve their profession.
VER, Video Equipment Rentals of Burbank, Calif., a privately-held company with branches throughout the US, had operated a rental office here for 10 years, while eating its heart out to get into Chicago’s lucrative, expanding Hollywood theatrical/TV film production, which Fletcher Camera and Lenses had a lock on.
VER fortuitously connected with Fletcher at a time when it was being challenged by needing to keep pace with ever-new equipment to meet the demands of serving national high-end projects.
Called at the time a “win-win” situation, in November, 2013 VER purchased Fletcher Cameras, company founders Tom Fletcher and his father, Archie Fletcher liked the VER deal because they promised to keep the staff intact. “Tom took pride in their work and he wanted to make sure that everyone there had a job,” said a source.
A scaled down Goose Island office with a staff of eight has been maintained — although there was brief talk about moving the operation to the suburbs – as well as the five-person staff in New Orleans. It was business as usual, but changes were in the wind for Fletcher and Borys.
This spring, VER sold its assets, including Cineverse cameras, to a private equity firm.
As with all corporate take-overs, the new managers were looking for places to “tighten costs” and boost their bottom line. So Fletcher and Borys, whose services were deemed by the newcomers to be too costly, were on the top of the hit list.
Ever since the Fletchers opened their camera business in 1987, Tom Fletcher has been an active and progressive community leader, forwarding the education of camera capture as it continually shift-shapes, starting with HD. He serves as national and local industry board chair and works diligently for the advancement of the Chicago film industry.
Both Fletcher and Borys are respected associate members of the American Society of Cinematographers. Borys, like Fletcher, an expert in camera brands and capabilities of camera capture, is known and respected internationally.
Resumes like theirs are unique and hard to come by. Even in Hollywood.