This week, for our season finale, we’re joined by Chicago producer and Camera Ambassador owner, Erica Duffy!
(This interview was edited and condensed for clarity)
CA: Hey Erica! Hit us with your bio.
ED: Hey everyone. My name is Erica Duffy, and I am the co-founder and owner of Camera Ambassador.
CA: What got you rental business?
ED: Camera Ambassador was founded in 2014 when I had moved to Chicago. Before that, I had been living in San Francisco and running a business that I did all used buying and selling of camera equipment. I bought and sold things from Hasselblads to Leicas. So I enjoyed that part of it because of the equipment side. But the part that was really missing for me was the community side of it. I would ship off that camera or that piece of equipment. And then I usually never heard from that person again, but I never got to find out what happened with that gear, what product was created, what art is created, what short film was created with that piece of gear. And that was the part of it that really, when we started Camera Ambassador rentals, was fulfilling the other side of what I was really passionate about in the industry.
CA: What's the most rewarding part of your job?
ED: That's a tough question because I honestly absolutely love running a rental shop. One of the most rewarding things is recommending other filmmakers, especially women or POCs, who haven't had opportunities in the past to be able to get onset may be in roles that aren't as traditional and see them get hired for a good day rate. And then all the way through fruition. A lot of times after I've recommended someone, I see that those two people have built a relationship and they're working together and creating many more projects than even just the one that I recommended them for.
CA: What personal projects have you been working on?
ED: The last project that I worked on was actually pre-COVID and it was back in January and it was a TV series that was released via Amazon. It was with Cowboy Cerrone, who is a UFC fighter who fought, Connor McGregor. And it was a really exciting project for me because it was on location at the training camp for all of his cowboy training. And each week for six weeks leading up to the fight we are shooting and editing an episode. My current project is the Midwest Film Festival. I joined the team there back in December of 2019 as the executive director of the festival. And it's been really rewarding for me. And it's been a really interesting experience because I've developed skills to become a better filmmaker in different ways than I thought I would. And then I've also really been able to just think a little bit more about like how a project comes to life and like the team behind that, because I have just seen such a large pool of shorts coming together
CA: Any closing thoughts?
ED: This is going to be our very last Filmmaker Friday in this format. It's been an absolute pleasure doing this in 2020 with all of you and staying connected and having a way for us to be able to still find out what's going on with each other and stay up to date. This year was incredibly difficult for everybody and I think that what it really taught me and really showed me was that when something like this happens and we're faced with things that are completely outside of our control, that the group of people here have just become closer. We've adapted, we've thought outside the box– as we always have, and really just tried to put our clients first and that rental experience first. Additionally, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all of you and acknowledge our community and our supporters. Because you're getting back to work that means we're getting back to work and just continuing to be loyal to Camera Ambassador and bring your business to us and put your trust in us for us to be able to be your source for equipment. So I just want to give my whole heart of gratitude to all of you. I appreciate you so much. Thank you so much for bringing your business to us and trusting us and cheers to 2021 and whatever comes next. But I have comfort knowing that no matter what it is, we're all in this together. And as our slogan says, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, #gotogether.
Check out the video interview (and all our #filmmakerfriday videos on Youtube):