Cambridge – more notes

Friday was a great day both for the film, for my continuing education in the possibilities of what a talented person can do with Super 8 film, and in experiencing another country and culture.

Saturday was just as good. We spent the morning exploring the city. Today was much different from the other days because the streets were packed with shoppers (it was Saturday after all). We visited a street market place, some shops, bought some souvenirs – tourist stuff.

We tracked down the Zoology Department Museum on Downing Street. It was a bland looking museum – just glass cases packed with animal displays and biological artifacts, many times without any notes or explanation other than the species name. Not at all a modern day museum – it was much more a public warehouse of sorts. But we were here to see something in particular: Darwin. Downstairs, hidden away in some odd corner of the room, completely inconspicuously were three of the original finches collected by Darwin. Also, a beetle collection, notes from his journal during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, and other priceless items.

It just re-emphasized the fact of so many amazing thinkers and ideas were tied to this city. And to think that these items were just there – under some glass, without any real promotion or attention drawn to them. It seemed like such an unusual thing.


After our visit to the museum we walked up through the square and towards the screening venue. Today they were showing a feature-length film entitled “I for India.” It was partly Super 8, partly other formats, about an Indian family that relocated to England. It followed their family’s struggles through two generations, beginning in the 1960s and continuing through to the mid-90s. It was an excellent story, very well told, and the footage was brilliant.

After the film we met and spoke with some of our new friends, from England, France, and Brazil. We discussed film and had tea. Then, after having tea, we walked down the street to a pub and had a beer and talked some more.

Remy, myself, and Adam, spent much of this time discussing Super 8’s and short film’s place in today’s movie world. It was a good discussion that I won’t go into. The basic conclusions we came to were that: there is a place for short films, we just need to find a way to package and sell the idea to theaters, audiences, and executive producers.

We left Cambridge this morning, ending our film part of the trip and beginning our climbing and exploring portion of the trip. We arrived this afternoon in Castleton, within the Peak District National Park. First thing we did was drop our stuff off in our youth hostel room and truck it up the hill to Peveril Castle. After that we roamed around town for a while and eventually stopped at George’s Pub where I had fish and chips and Adam had rabbit pot pie. No, I’m not making that up.


Almost forgot to mention (back to the film thing, since this is supposed to be about film) I have been shooting some Super 8 while I’ve been here. I shot about a roll and a half in Cambridge. I am working on the second half of the second roll (tri-x black and white film) and will most likely shoot that tomorrow.

I’ve got plenty of footage and pics so far but it will have to wait.

The Good Soldier – Notes 17 – Film Processed & Transferred!

From The Good Soldier Production Photos

Let me see if I can put all of this into perspective. I had this idea. I wrote this story. I found some brilliant and motivated people to help. I shot this movie and learned a ton.

I just returned from Burbank, CA where I saw the developed film for the first time. I sat in on the transfer process where they take the film from its “film” version to a digitized copy; files on a hard drive.

I sat in amazement as I watched reel after reel of incredible black and white footage scroll by. I am so impressed what this collaborative effort of filmmaker, cast, and crew has brought us.

The entire staff at Yale Film & Video did an awesome job and I am so grateful that I selected them to develop and transfer the film. I especially must thank Keith, the owner of Yale Film & Video, who really went out of his way to welcome me. Everyone at Yale was very friendly and professional. I look forward to future projects with them.

Visiting with the Yale crew has only reinforced my belief that, regardless of the progression of the digital revolution, HD and RED cameras, there is a special place for FILM and what film can do and offer as an artistic expression of life and story. I would truly hate to see the film labs of the world go by the wayside because of digital. Keith and I had a discussion about this during lunch. Cameras and the medium they shoot are nothing more than tools, much like brushes and paint, and picking the right tool for the project is important. Sometimes that tool is digital. But sometimes that tool is film.

I am a bit bias I suppose, I have a deep-rooted and heart-felt tie to the medium of film, more so than digital. I feel more expression, more life, more realism in the medium. Not to mention more challenge. That’s not to disqualify digital, I think it has its place and its uses, which is why I use it too, but one can never forget the history of film and the power of it.

From The Good Soldier Production Photos

I think people are sometimes scared of film. What if it doesn’t turn out? What if it comes back blurry? Out of focus? Completely black? These are all legitimate fears – and ones that I encountered first-hand. My first test footage was shite. But part of making something look good has to do with a learning curve. Too many times I think people get a hold of a top-of-the-line digital camera and automatically think: I’m a filmmaker (or photographer) now.

I remember having this discussion/argument way back in high school when I worked in the film/video studies program and our high school “news” channel. Someone would say, “Let’s go make a film about…,” and I would correct them with, “You mean video.” And though it got on my friends’ nerves, the more I repeated it the more they realized, there IS a real difference. FILM IS NOT VIDEO. Film is a physical and chemical process. Video is a magnetic and digital (i.e. numbers) process. They are different and the end result is not the same.


From The Good Soldier Production Photos

But, wow. I am incredibly off topic now.

What I really want to say is that the footage looks incredible! Sure, there were scenes that didn’t turn out as well as I thought but I think I have enough to work with.

Burbank was a great experience and I am forever grateful that I was lucky enough to experience that part of the process.

Now, the editing begins! Stay tuned and stick with me. We’re going to Sundance, baby!

Working on script for film

I came up with an idea for a short film and have been working on it off and on for a couple of weeks. It was one of those situations where I was writing one thing and all of a sudden a completely different idea appeared in my head and I just had to stop the first story and start writing what was on my mind. So far there are parts that are crystal clear – – like the setup, and several scenes – but the ending is still not quite so clear. But I think it will start to take shape as I continue.

The plan is to use the grain silos for a majority of the shoot. And of course I want to shoot in Super 8. I think the best bet is going to be shooting in DV on several practice runs prior to shooting S8 film, just to conserve.

The story centers around a single central character – a solider – that is on a mission but he doesn’t really know what his mission is, who the enemy is, or why he is in the situation he is in. I know it sounds very cryptic and perhaps a little corny but I’m leaving out pertinent details to preserve the originality of the story – believe me, there’s more to it.

On another note, I finally found and purchased my dream S8 camera – a Nizo 801 Macro. it was shipped from Germany and I paid about $400 bucks for it. It’s in great shape. I am still learning the ins and outs of shooting with it and haven’t had a chance to shoot any actual film with it yet. This is the camera I am planning on shooting the above mentioned movie with.