Seminar on feature films at Cinespace Feb. 25-26

Regina Taylor and Nate Grant

Regina Taylor, the acclaimed actress/director/writer of films and stage, will be part of the Feature Film Seminar extravaganza that veteran filmmaker Nate Grant of Lake Shore Film & TV Productions has spent several years bringing to fruition.

The 15-session, two day event taking place this weekend, Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26, in various areas of the vast Cinespace Studios, presents top professionals in many disciplines for a full array of discussions and demonstrations on how to produce and finance independent films.

Grant, who retired from teaching film at Illinois State University last July, says his “ah ha moment” for the Feature Film Seminar came when he learned that Cinespace Studios had come to town and he raced over to see it.  “Obviously, someone’s got big plans, I thought, and that was when I felt we should get everyone ready and revved up with knowledge and job strategies for an a potential demand,” he says.

 “There is a subculture of talented and energetic filmmakers in town, inclusive of women and minorities, that might surprise a lot of us in what they’re doing.  We hope that our seminar will inform and inspire everyone in their endeavors here.”

Fifteen sessions and production over the weekend

Abe Thompson, Corky Kessler In addition to Regina Taylor, panelists in plenary and panel discussion include feature film producer Abe Thompson, of Creative One Consulting; award-winning screenwriter Colin Costello, music composer/producer Butch Stewart, writer/director/author Ytasha Womack, actress Wanda Christine; entertainment attorney Hal “Corky” Kessler and Vaun Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Screenwriters.

The ambitious 15-session event gets underway with 9 a.m. registration, a Meet and Greet and a continental breakfast.  A 10 a.m. Welcome will introduce attendees to Cinespace’s Alex Pisseos; the Chicago Film Office’s Rich Moskal; Local 476’s Mark Hogan, the IFO’s Cesar Lopez and Michele Weber; SAG’s Kathy Byrne; Ald. Jason Ervin; ReelChicago’s Ruth L Ratny, Vaun Monroe and Grant.

Abe Thompson moderates the Introduction to Feature Film Production panel, from 10:30-noon, with veteran producer Darryl Manuel and financing specialist Corky Kessler.

The afternoon sessions, starting after lunch at 1 p.m. are Camera & Lighting, with Jim Stricklin and Noah Ocomy; Screenwriting, with Emma Young, Colin Costello and Christine Houston; Audio, Aaron Greer; Editing, Jacob Serien, and Acting, Craig Harris.

Vaun Monroe, Ytasha WomackThe 2:15 sessions are Music Videos, Butch Stewart; Documentaries, Stan West; Casting, Vanessa Lanier; Makeup & Hair, LunYe Marsh and Gaming, Edye Hughes, Darryl Hughes and Warren Wilkes.

Kessler will lecture at 3:30 p.m. on Film Financing of low-budget features, finding funds and aspects of distribution.

A reception at 4:45 p.m. is hosted by the Black Screenwriters Association , Chicago Black Caucus, Film Associates, CFO, IFO, SAG, IATSE, IPA N’Digo Migraine and NABJ-CC.

Sunday devoted to producing and shooting a film

On Sunday, a film will be shot on Cinestage’s standing “Playboy Club” set, with professional actors and crews. The day is keynoted by Regina Taylor at a 10:30 a.m. session moderated by Emma Young, with actresses Wanda Christine and Pam Mack.

More panels follow, on Camera & Lighting, Editing and Screenwriting, starting at 1:30 p.m. and the day ends with a 4 p.m. wrap party. 

All this for a ridiculously low fee of $15 per day or $20 for both days, at Cinestage, 2600 W. 16th St.  Plenty of free parking available.

Grant is hopeful that the Feature seminar “will not only start something, but also at least support a legitimate filmmaking movement in Chicago and make the community aware of the economic impact of making movies here.”