Last November seventh, the passionate and creative team at Imaginarium, a local film and video production company, suffered a major setback with the break-in and theft of three very expensive video camera kits. The robbery occurred midway through an extensive film project, a collection of short films to be titled, Scenes from a Room, the latest film concept by Piotr Skowronski.
Although they have recovered some of the insurance money to move forward with shooting, Brothers Piotr and Milosz Skowronski, the founders of Imaginarium, share the opinion that spending money on equipment is not its best use. Equipment is critical of course, they agree, but more important is the support they want to provide actors, crew, and those involved in post-production, representing a large number of talented locals.
With the destruction of the project’s schedule, there was the incurred risk of losing the entire production. Piotr points out that the schedule was more important than obtaining new camera kits. “If you look at orchestrating people it becomes a significant challenge when you have it set. It’s actually extremely complicated scheduling people. People have other jobs, they’re in school, and have families and other commitments.” With a small cast and crew each person’s role is critical. A production can shut down if one person fails to show up.
However, the dedicated film crew and actors overcame the huge loss of production time and just as important, they received all kinds of emotional support from the community. “Overall the community is really amazing,” says Milosz.
They recently launched an online campaign, hoping the community will aid them with financing to pay the cast and crew. Using Internet “crowdfunding” they hope to raise $10,000. If you go to www.indiegogo.com and search for, Scenes from a Room, you will see how this works. The site entices you with “perks.” The deadline to reach this funding goal is March 6.
Piotr and Milosz made their first few films without any funding. Now in operation for two years with a busy studio they have received a few grants from the Ontario Arts Council to get them started, resulting in quality short films.
Imaginarium is an unusual studio in that they actively look to help the local film community by offering their services and space for a few days for free in order to spearhead non-commercial film work, provided there is a written proposal. So far, most of these sponsored projects are from individuals with whom they have worked previously.
Although film projects are their primary goal, they have created about 50 commercial projects, half productions for broadcast television and half for Internet use, although there is a crossover between the two.
The non-commercial short films, with more artistic merit, may not generate much revenue, but there are other advantages, such as encouraging young talented people to stay in Thunder Bay. Milosz points out, “We support the ambitions of young people who work within the company. We have to have those things in place for people who share our love for film.”
“And there’s an exposure value,” Piotr points out. “You’re trying to build your name as a filmmaker and over time it adds up to something that makes for a body of work. Another component is learning the techniques, learning from each form, commercial and film production.”
Milosz adds, “Technically it’s a pretty complicated craft, so your skillsets improve. You learn by doing. Going to school is great, but eventually you have to actually spend the time doing it.”
Scenes from a Room, their current project, for which they are looking to the public for funding, is a collection of short films. The shorts are meant to stand on their own, sharing themes and characters. “As a whole the overall theme would be about connection or disconnection, somehow brought about by the space,” says Piotr.
And although the stories take place in one room, they don’t want the film to become claustrophobic; so many shots will be taken in other locations.
“Logistics have a lot to do with the number of films, but we’re aiming for six,” says Piotr. The overall production will employ up to 14 actors with extras. From a crew standpoint there’s about twelve people who have been involved to date. This is before post-production, which requires people for music, editing, sound engineering, some special effects, and ultimately, promotion.
And like any good production company, Imaginarium already has a future project in mind, another short film. As a young company there’s lots of room for growth. They want to continue developing resources for crew and others along with better equipment and space. After only two years, despite the setback, they’re off to an amazing start.
In Facebook you can search for Imaginarium Studio Inc. to learn more about the studio and the Indiegogo funding campaign.