I didn’t post this at the time — sorry! Got caught up with filming, processing, and enjoying the island.
Here is a little more about the wonderful week i spent at Artscape Gibraltar Point in June 2014.
We shot our super8 cartridges on our own, sometimes teaming up if we wanted to collaborate. Some people had arrived with specific ideas of what they wanted to shoot, others more eager to experiment with new techniques.
I knew i wanted to try various different styles with Super8 as well as regular 8.
Since i love handmade filmmaking (drawing, painting scratching directly on the celluloid), i wanted to incorporate some of that into the residency. In the past, I’ve mostly manipulated film that already contains images. But this time i wanted to work with a blank canvas and have the whole film strip to create on.
For that you need clear leader (basically just transparent film). It’s easy to find 16mm clear leader, or even 35mm but super8 and regular 8 clear leader doesn’t exist (to the best of my knowledge), so i decided to try to make it myself.
After researching ways of wiping off the emulsion using various chemicals, I went into the dark room. It turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated and the image came off the film easily, using the bleach from the development process. I just recycled some test film that people had shot on but didn’t want to use anymore, and there we had it – clear super8 leader to paint on!
There is a kind of apocalyptic undertone to a lot of handmade/experimental filmmaking culture. From people i’ve talked with and websites i’ve come across, there seems to be this persistent assertion that: “we’ll never stop making films! …Even when there is no more apparatus left and all the labs have closed and no one is manufacturing film anymore!”.
Along with that comes some amazing invention! Some folks have begun physically making film by hand, others have developed new ways of processing. One lady, from Germany has a method of developing her film with sea water, and another with coffee. A friend from the residency and I decided to try out the coffee method. Its quite a complicated process and we had a few too many variables to keep track of (she had also opened up her cartridge to rewind the film and double expose) so it was hard to tell which part of the experiment didn’t work. I’ll have to try this coffee development method again.
Every night, after a day of shooting, processing and sharing ideas, we’d all gather for a screening. We would watch whatever footage had been shot that day and give feedback. We’d also watch each other’s previous works and other films that inspired us. It was fantastic to see what other short films had been made by my colleagues. Such imagination! One in particular that a friend from the prairies shot was so rich in colour and they had used only natural light and Ektachrome film. It’s a great reminder that you can truly make a film using whatever resources you have, even if they are few. And that you can make a film about anything!
Collaborating on each other’s films was one of the highlights of the week. A friend from Saskatchewan was inspired by teen witch/séance type scenery. So we found a nice little clearing in the forest and performed a levitation ritual which she filmed.
On the last day of the residency a couple of us stayed up late and built a fort in the main studio. We had our final screening projected into the fort ☺ ..(followed by a mariah carey video marathon)
I posted some stills of the film I’m working on below. It’s a super 8 dance piece shot black and white, with some colourful hand-painted sequences intercut within.
It was a fabulous week of learning, experimenting and playing with small gauge film. The team was talented and fun, the location was stunning, and the atmosphere was inspiring. Looking forward to working with this great team of film nerds again and hearing about their projects!