Thursday, January 15, 2009

The 2008 Off Camera Exhibition

In October 2008, a group of film workers from I.A.T.S.E. LOCAL 873 and The Director’s Guild of Ontario joined together at FILMPORT, a 360,000 sq. ft. Toronto studio complex, to exhibit their art to the public. The exhibition, ART AT FILMPORT STUDIOS, revealed a formerly lesser known side to the skill set of this creative group.

Usually only a name is highlighted in the credits of a film once it is completed by the talented people who enliven the cellulose in the motion picture industry. The skills of these artists are employed in creating the illusion of reality on film. At Off Camera’s latest offering, we caught more than a glimpse of people deeply committed to expressing their perceptions beyond the formality of the silver screen. This exhibition of works by film technicians, directors and designers was the largest of its’ kind ever held in Toronto, and perhaps North America to date. It was a formidable show to say the least. It crossed creative boundaries and cascaded into levels of professionalism that each presenting artist was proud to reveal.

It was Toronto Scenic Painter Patricia Chard who initiated the first exhibitions of this kind in 2006 and 2007. To pull off an exhibition of the magnitude and quality of the 2008 show took a lot of “hut spa” from the exhibitors and organizers of this show. Scenic Artists Frank Perna and Scott Donais, who were also exhibitors, carried the ball even when the going got tough, to drive the shows’ concept and planning. Add to this mix Scenic Artists Erin Leslie and Marina Reshetnikova, again also exhibitors, to co-curate the hanging of art, along with many other tasks. The large cross-section of members from the categories within the film industry delivered their work prior to the opening with many also volunteering to help hang the show. The variety of artwork presented was wonderfully extensive. Carpenters with camera skills mirroring the fabric of rapidly changing cultures, Set dresser’s with painterly ideas letting the colours speak and Grips with an eye for multi media installation, to name a few. All from a talent pool within the Toronto film industry. Also presented were ink drawings and abstractions, original prints, photography, subtle and skilful acrylic and oil on canvas and mature sculptural works. Scenic Artist Derek Stephenson gave these works a website at:

The size of this exhibition was beyond what most had anticipated, with a total of 58 artists involved! Temporary hanging canvas walls were constructed diagonally in the 18,000 sq. ft. studio space. This provided more than adequate room for the works of the many artists’ to be seen. Grip Mark Manchester, also a participating artist, looked after the derigging. Lighting was generously donated and installed by Electrician wizard Ian Foulds. Opening night turnout was impressive, with over 1000 attending. Viewers expressed their comments and kudos while enjoying the music of Mark Stafford of the Paint Department with his small but savvy Blues Ensemble. Several artists sold work on opening night. The event received media attention, both in print and on television.

Off Camera thanks I.A.T.S.E. local 873, The Director’s Guild of Ontario, and Ontario Paint and Wallpaper for their generous sponsorship as well as the Filmport people for the use of their fabulous studio space. This event could not have been such a success without the level of help we received.

So, Can we expect another Off Camera exhibition in 2009? Lookout Toronto! Yes we can!

By Heather Rigby