SMS Productions ends 25 year business

One of Chicago’s most durable industry icons will “transition” from a lifetime of operating a film business to doing what he loves most ? teaching up-and-coming filmmakers and producing his own films.

Last Friday, Man Sung Sun finished selling off equipment and shutter his 25-year old SMS Productions and camera rental business at 1229 N. North Branch.

Man Sung will continue to service cameras and lenses out of his Hoffman Estates home. His videos camera equipment will be available for rental through Video Replay, but he will maintain the rental of specialty equipment, including film cameras.

“Man Sung will be available to young people for assistance and consultation and will continue to support the local industry in his unique way,” said Helena Sun, Man Sung’s wife and partner in SMS Productions.

He also plans to teach at Columbia College this fall.

The Suns decided on semi-retirement when the lease on their loft space was due to expire in early July.

Although Man Sung said giving up the business was a hard decision, “he will have more time to teach and host expos and seminars without the restriction of having to report to an office every day,” said his wife.

After they gave their landlord notice, Man Sung said, “I was driving to work and thought, ?I’ve been working since I was a teenager and now I’m going to be unemployed. No place to go. But on the other side, I’ll have more time to teach and continue to host seminars and workshops.'”

Man Sung came to Chicago in 1968 from Seoul, Korea, where had been a film student at Joong Ang University, to study mass communications at Columbia College for his senior year. Instead, he repeated the entire four years (his English improving all the while) and took a post-graduate course in engineering at IIT.

While at Columbia, Man Sung began a 17-year association with Jack Behrend, owner of what was then Chicago’s biggest equipment rental company. “There’s where I met and learned from all the famous cameramen and filmmakers of the day,” he said.

Man Sung rose to head of Behrend’s booming technical department. His expertise was lenses. “I was the only one who could take apart an Angenieux zoom lens and put it back together,” he recalled.

After Behrend closed, the Suns started out modestly in a 420-sq. ft. space at 100 E. Ohio and kept outgrowing their space each time they moved.

Man Sung found time to teach, host workshops and seminars and produce his own projects, which he plans on concentrating on again. He produced a martial arts feature, “Book of Swords,” a massively popular movie overseas.

For the Chicago Korean community, he produced a TV news/magazine series that ran on a local station, and Chicago’s first music video. New phone number for the Suns is 630/742-4408.

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