*Originally published by Canvas Rebel on August 7, 2023.
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Kirk Slawek. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
In an industry that is always changing and advancing, we try to position ourselves as thought leaders within the world of production. Our team is constantly learning and wrapping our heads around new technology, trends, and advancements so not only we can be informed of it, but we can educate those in the industry. Through events such as Directors + Donuts, equipments demos, and training workshops, our heartbeat is equipping the creative community to better understand the constant industry changes and advancements. While it’s important to keep up with the advanced technology that is breaking through, it’s equally as important to understand how those tools can be part of creating a better product and when they should be used. Whether it’s our clients or crew, educating those we work with on these pieces of technology is crucial to ensuring we are best using our time and resources to achieve the goals at hand. The tools we offer at Arc Studios in the virtual production world, as well as the robotics and car-to-car tools at Shift Dynamics are all resources that have specific uses and benefits to set our projects apart from the industry standard. In a world where media is constantly changing and being created, our tools give us the opportunity to elevate creative and create projects that stand out to provide more success to our clients.
Along with education and cutting-edge technology, part of Gear Seven’s DNA from the very start has been our relationships with clients. Understanding their goals, their needs, and their vision are all components that are foundational to every project we take on and execute. By putting the client first, we are able to create deep and meaningful relationships built upon trust that then allow us to take their visions to a new level and help them achieve success on all fronts.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kirk Slawek.
Hi Kirk, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I got started with Gear Seven because of some experience I had when I was younger, including internships in college. In high school, I actually had a film class that I took that got me interested in the industry. From there, I started interning and freelancing when I was in college, not knowing what I was doing. I learned a lot along the way, I went to college for business, so nothing in the film program at all. Through internships and from some mentors I had growing up, all in various areas of the industries, I gained a lot of experience in things that aren’t even a part of Gear Seven today. All of the experiences and hands-on learning helped me as we try to figure out the industry we are in now. It’s the polar opposite now from where we started, regarding the way we process everything and the way I was taught when I started more in the world of live events. We originally started with budgeting and building things in a very different way — I didn’t even know what AICP was at the time. I barely even knew what all the crew positions were at the time, but I was lucky to have some great people guide me along the way.
From there, I officially started Gear Seven in 2012 right when I graduated. I was at the teetering point of trying to figure out if I wanted to go work for somebody else in the production, but I knew I always wanted to start my own company and it wouldn’t get any easier if I didn’t do it then — probably one of the biggest initial risks I ever took. Luckily, we are still here today through all of the mistakes I’ve made and the learning we’ve experienced. Ultimately, the prior relationships I had and projects I started on such as $500 music videos, opened my eyes to different genres in the industry — specifically in the commercial and brand space. We’ve learned from everyone we’ve done and the growth all stems from there.
In the beginning, we had to learn how to do everything — from bookkeeping to budgeting and everything in between. Sometimes I laugh when I think of all the email signatures I’ve had over the years, from shooter to director to DP… I’ve probably had every crew role as an email signature at some point over the growth of Gear Seven. I can attribute so much of the growth to being able to bring on people who are talented in each part of the business and in production. Editing was one of the first areas that triggered the idea in my brain, that there are people out there who are super talented at it and love it as an art form and passion more than production, the side that I loved more.
Finding people like that was incredible, and the same idea compounded into every role and area. I knew that I could technically learn those areas, but I saw the value in bringing in these people in all positions that leveled up our work.
These people have allowed Gear Seven to create better work than I ever could as a freelancer editor/DP/director.
Through that, many doors opened and allowed us to scale more. We started off as all camera operators, but little did we know early on that we had the talents and skills and making of a real production company. By learning through our mistakes and bumps in the road of that whole process, we were able to grow to where we are today.
For over 10 years, Gear Seven has strived to create with excellence and bring visions to life from the city of Nashville.
Starting as a “one-man band” while in college, I began bringing in more and more talented creatives onto projects as the scope of the company grew. While tapping into the community of filmmakers in Music City and directors across the nation, Gear Seven expanded rapidly to quickly take on work with top-tier brands and talent such as Apple Music, Mitsubishi, ESPN, TikTok, RedBull, and more. Today, over 150 years of combined expertise live within the in-house team of Gear Seven as they continue to chase cutting-edge technology and trends, grow in their craft and produce pieces they’re proud to call their own.
In recent years, our fascination with camera movements birthed Shift Dynamics, while Arc Studios came from ground-breaking extended reality tech that is changing the course of production with each passing day. With Shift Dynamics and Arc Studios, Gear Seven has the ability to arm many projects with a holistic, all-in-one approach so clients can rest assured the team has every piece of the process covered.
Shortly after I started Gear Seven, I founded DEAVOR, a creative coworking space in Nashville. The idea started small in the beginning by simply seeing the opportunity to bring a new way of coworking to Nashville that I had experienced in larger cities. With Gear Seven being the most established “business” out of my network at the time of other like-minded creatives, we saw the benefit it could be. Not only would it give us a space to work on our businesses and interests, but also work together and collaboratively with the community.
DEAVOR started super simple with trying to find a space to lease, but as we dug into it more and thought about how we could do it better, it quickly became a full-time job. By finding local craftsmen in Nashville to build furniture, dreaming about amenities, and partnering with local businesses for coffee, we found ourselves immersed in the community in creating this space. From there, we started to find our first members and build out the space. It quickly scaled up as members joined and we had to manage space from giving tours to making coffee and everything in between, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world as so many of the relationships that we have today and the community we built came from the foundation of that space.
Today, DEAVOR is now Eleven Willow, a full creative coworking space near Downtown Nashville that is home to many small businesses, freelancers, and creatives.
While Gear Seven started as a standard production company, our team quickly realized how much value we could bring to our team and the local industry if we were to expand our services. While most production companies have to sub-rent production gear and find studio locations to service their projects, we decided to take on these needs ourselves. With that, we created Shift Dynamics and Arc Studios.
Shift Dynamics serves not only as a production rental house, but also as a team of camera movement specialists. We join other production companies on set for robotics jobs, car-to-car work, and much more. Arc Studios, on the other hand, is a virtual production studio with the ability to create virtual environments using Unreal Engine that allow production companies to immerse their jobs into any world they’d like.
Shift Dynamics and Arc Studios do serve as other streams of revenue, but they also allow us to be involved in many more productions taking place, even if they are not through our Gear Seven team. Our resources and team help equip the industry in whatever needs arise through one of our brands, while also challenging us to constantly be learning and growing in our craft.