My first experience with Super 8 would’ve been my childhood home movies. My father had a Kodak Super 8 camera and would shoot the typical home movies al-la 1970. I don’t remember ever getting too excited about being filmed but I loved the nights when Dad would set up the projector in the living room and the family would gather around to watch ourselves on the silver screen. There was skating on the frozen pond, flying a kite with granddad, playing with the dogs, first day riding the bus and other three minute spools of family life. Then around 1982 or so the nights around the projector came to an end.
Twenty-odd years later my wife, Emily, began transferring home movies to digital for a living. While I had been involved in video editing and production for some time at this point, all my work had revolved around video. More often than not it revolved around digital video. When Emily pulled me aside to observe some fantastic piece of history preserved on celluloid, we viewed it as though we were seeing some sacred parchment that was suddenly being pulled out of a lost history. It’s not only seeing the distant past revived that amazes me when watching old film, it’s the vitality that appears to exist in film. Video is generally cold. The whites are too hot and the blacks are crushed. Film is warm and seems to breath.
Because of the economic demands of this modern space-age agogo society we live in, I have continued to work in digital video as a profession. But every time I’ve watched Emily transfer movies I’m drawn to the thought of what could be achieved on film. So this last spring, when we discovered a box with a old Poloroid camera and two super 8 cameras, I took it a sign that I must begin shooting Super 8 film. Emily took it as a sign she must begin shooting Poloroid (Impossible Project) film – but that’s a different story.
Imagine my shock when I pulled from the bottom of a dust filled box a camera that looked like something from the set of Buck Rogers. What we had discovered was a Bolex 160 Macrozoom. It was packed with the manual and the Bolex-Lite s2 light bar attachment with a functioning 650 watt bulb. The camera had been stored with out its batteries so it was free of corrosion. After installing batteries everything but the power zoom appeared to work. The only thing to do now was to order some film and take it for a test drive.
I decided to shoot at our annual May Day Party. We plant a May Pole in the back yard, make food and invite everyone to come celebrate me & Em’s anniversary. So here it is. I’ll address all the reasons it’s not exposed properly in my next post.