Q+A: Che Chisholm, Automatic Studios

Does the name "Automatic Studios" automatically capture your interest? Well, this great organization just happens to do a lot of capturing through film. Automatic Studios is an "interactive community within DUMBO where kids engage in and learn the art and technical skills of moviemaking" based in the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. We sat down with Founder Che Chisholm to learn more about Automatic Studios's history and goals for the future.

What inspired you to create Automatic Studios?

My husband and I are both filmmakers and we wanted to share our firsthand experience with tweens. We realized that film was lost in the tween market. There are a lot of activities for them such as sports and clubs, but there really wasn't anything for tweens that majorly focused on film. We are definitely focusing on an untapped market which was the main reason we created Automatic Studios.

Dumbo has recently welcomed a lot of startups. What attracted you to the neighborhood?

Well, I definitely would describe DUMBO as the “media Mecca,” but what really attracted us to the neighborhood was the great area. It’s one of the most beautiful places in NYC to shoot. The area has so much capability, and it gives us all the resources we need to allow the kids to film outside. With the proximity to the water and Brooklyn Bridge Park we have really given the kids the advantage of being able to film in and outside of a studio. Another great thing about this is that when we are filming outside many people stop us and ask us about the company which is a great way for us to promote our program.

What is the normal day like for students participating in the camp?

Everyday the kids do something new in order to create their film. A typical week looks like this:

Monday: The kids meet for the first time and come up with content for their film. They begin to write their script, and by the end of the day they will have a finished script ready to be used in their film.

Tuesday: The second day is usually centered around pre-production which involves reading through the script and discussing anything we need for the shoot. We also begin shooting which is always fun.

Wednesday: On Wednesdays we do a lot of green screen work.

Thursday: Thursdays are centered around editing and finishing up the film.

Friday: At the end of the week we always have a screening and party at the Media Center theater where the audience, usually parents, can ask the students questions. It’s always a great time!

As a staff we realize it’s camp and that the kids need to relax. We believe in the kids, and that is why my staff and I work hard to set up the studio and equipment so the kids can have fun and be able to express themselves. The flexibility we provide is great for the students!

What usually happens with the films that the kids create after the program is done?

The great thing about the current day is that technology has allowed individuals to share many things online. At the end of the program we upload the kids' videos to a Vimeo account where they can send their video link to anyone they want including their friends and family.

Our goal at Automatic Studios is to encourage collaborative play and work ethic within our students. The film set is the perfect example of people working together to create something great.

Che Chisholm, Founder of Automatic Studios

What is the top thing you think students will get out of Automatic Studios?

Our goal at Automatic Studios is to encourage collaborative play and work ethic within our students. The film set is the perfect example of people working together to create something great. Everyone is equally important and has a significant role. We also want our students to learn the importance of patience and the ability to realize what needs to be done. By the end of the program all of the kids will have experienced every different position and role behind a film. We want them to learn how to be self sufficient because it will prepare them for the future on the film set or any other endeavors.

What is your favorite part about working with the students?

I think just having happy campers who are so eager to come back everyday is the best part of my job. Seeing the progress of Automatic Studios from when it was just an idea is also very satisfying.

Do you have any news or updates about Automatic Studios that you would like DUMBO to know about?

Our main initiative at this time is reaching out to different boroughs to find in school partnerships throughout the city. In the next day or so we will also be updating everyone through our social media outlets. We are currently in the process of planning a kids film festival for the summer in DUMBO, so definitely stay tuned!

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Brooklyn Bridge Park - Main Street