Jem Schofield (source: Jessica Workman-Schofield)
Filmmaker and Small-to-No-Crew video guru Jem Schofield, the subject of my latest interview, is a man who wears many hats. “I’m a producer, DP, educator, and the founder of theC47, a full-service production company that focuses on video production, filmmaking, consulting, and education,” he told me. “I am also an equipment design consultant to many manufacturers in the film and television industry.
“I started this journey as a kid. My father is a professional photographer and I grew up in an apartment that had a small kitchen that turned into a darkroom at night. My first camera was a used Pentax K-1000. It was a great start to my education in this field. In high school, I did photography and some video production, but it wasn’t until I started my own company in the mid 90’s that I came back to video production.
“On a parallel path to having a creative company, I became a post-production educator that focused on DVD authoring, motion graphics, and eventually editing. That started a long relationship with Apple and FMC, which produces the educational content for NAB.
“Everything went plop in 2008. With nothing happening on a day to day basis—virtually no work coming in, I started theC47 and began producing daily online videos related to video production and filmmaking. That content eventually led to work producing educational content for companies like Canon, Zeiss, AbelCine, and other companies in the industry. It was also the DSLR [Digital Single Lens Reflex] Revolution, so I started to teach classes and workshops focused on production and moved away from post-production training.
“The original mission for theC47 was only educational, but as someone who has been in production for over 20 years as a producer, DP, and educator, I eventually merged my original production company with theC47 into one entity when we moved to the Pacific Northwest a couple of years ago.”
I asked Scholfield to tell me about his work as an equipment design consultant. “It’s ongoing with different companies in the industry,” he answered. “I try to help them design better products. On one occasion, a number of years ago, I started a relationship with FJ Westcott. That led to the design and development of two products that bear theC47 brand name. One is theC47 DP kit and the other is theC47 Book Light Kit. Both light kits are designed for Small-to-No-Crew production and are modular light modifiers so they can be used in many different ways. I’m proud of them and continue to work with Westcott and other companies to create better tools for what we do.”
When I asked Schofield to detail what he covers in his courses, he responded, “It can be very specific or broad depending on the topic, but everything I teach is focused around the tech and craft of production. Camera, lighting, grip and audio. I primarily focus on Small-to-No-Crew, which is probably the biggest growing segment of production, especially with so much in-house production these days.”
My next question was about the various types of cameras, lighting equipment, and software Schofield uses in his classes. “As an DP and educator, I am using so many tools that sometimes I forget!” he answered. “One thing that has changed is my workshops when I realized they were getting too gear-centric. I would try to have everything, including the kitchen sink, so attendees could always see the latest and greatest. I realized that this was taking away from the educational side of things in terms of practical application, so I have simplified how much kit is in the workshops, and I’m only including the things being used by myself and others on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of equipment in the workshops. There is! It’s just that it’s more focused, so we can get into set ups more quickly, so people can get more out of the workshops.
“I personally shoot with the Canon C200, C300MKII, Sony FS7 II, Fujifilm X-T3, and also the ALEXA Mini when on bigger projects. Lenses are project-based. Canon and Zeiss for the majority of projects and also a lot of Fuji and Sigma glass. Lighting is also all over the place and is project-driven. Westcott’s FlexCine line, SkyPanels, Litepanels, Aputure, Fillex, etc. I am testing new lights and light modifiers all of the time! I am also a grip junkie so you will see a lot of that stuff in my workshops as well.”
Schofield will be conducting two Small-to-No-Crew workshops “Corporate & In-House Productions” and “Cinematic Video Lighting” at this October’s NAB Show New York “That relationship with FMC and NAB started in the early 2000s,” he explained. “I have been teaching at the show ever since. It’s important to me to be involved with NAB as there is a community aspect that is very important to me, and besides the on-site training I do for larger companies, it’s my chance to do live training with people in a classroom or studio environment. I’m not sure if it helps my brand, but I love to do it. These one-day workshops are for aspiring or working professionals that want to up their game in terms of knowledge and practical application related to both the technical and craft sides of Small-to-No-Crew production.
“The first workshop is an all-arounder. We start by digging into production, producing, and then an understanding of modern digital camera systems. We then move into the production and practical side of things where I focus on camera set-ups, composition, audio and, of course, lighting! The second workshop is wholly focused on lighting in Small-to-No-Crew production environments. The goal is to do as much practical/hands-on as possible within the time we have. It’s a great location—BAZA Studio—which I have taught in a couple of times. We really get to dig into lighting in different ways with this one and always with the goal of making frames look more cinematic.”
I wrapped up the interview by asking Schofield what was on the horizon for him in the future. “As a ‘career freelancer,’ you never know what’s coming next—at least from a client-based perspective,” he said. “After 23 years I know that there will be ups and downs, but if I work hard and get better at what I do for a living—never stop learning—new work will come about. I think that’s important for anyone that is looking at this ‘lifestyle’ to remember. Temperament is the other big one. People want to work with people who don’t make their lives miserable.
“In terms of the educational side of theC47, I have big plans! The next twelve months will see my production space being built out—at least phase one—so that I am able to create more in-depth content for my channel. The primary focus will be on video production, but there will be content created around photography as well. I love helping people learn both the technical side and the craft side of this business and hope that both in classrooms and on-line that I can do that for a very long time!”
For more information about Jem & his whereabouts, visit www.theC47.com or visit his YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/thec47, where he posts ongoing educational content focused on the craft of video production and filmmaking related to small to no crew productions.
His in-depth online courses “Cinematic Video Lighting” and “Advanced Cinematic Video Lighting” are available on Lynda.com along with his latest course, “Corporate Event Video: Producing Company Meetings and Presentations.”
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/thec47