I came across this movie I made about 20 years ago using an old Canon Super 8mm film camera. I took the canoe and trailer across the state of Washington all the way to the farthest Northwest tip at Cape Flattery.
Each real had only about 4 minutes of footage and was extremely expensive. I love the look and wish I could have been a filmmaker back in the era of film. I may have to do a new movie next summer!
Although I grew up in my father’s camera repair shop where he worked on movie cameras and projectors as well, I was always drawn to the modern technology and always was seeking out the sharpest images with the most control over contrast and overall tonality in a pursuit of perfection. I was an early adopter of digital technology because its tools seemed to offer me the most direct means towards the highest resolution images. My first images on a Nikon D1 2.74 Megapixel full frame sensor rivaled what I had previously been able to create with 35mm film. By the time the digital camera surpassed 6 mega pixels and reached 16 megapixel I gave up on shooting medium format film in favor of digital cameras.
I realize now that I was pursuing something that was hallow at the core. Sharpness didn’t make the work more creative.
The Impact of Technology
It has been posited that the development of sound recording in cinema was a major setback to filmmaking. Early silent film cameras were small and portable and filmmakers could make tremendously creative compositions. However, once sound was added to the mix the camera had to be housed in a giant soundproof container, which required cinematography to lock down their shots into formal compositions.
One only has to look at the 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov to see how it has taken over 80 years and the development of the smart phone video camera to get to where we see the kind of intimate cinematography that existed in the days of silent cinema and consumer technology like Super 8mm home movies.
In photography so much time is spent mastering the technical requirements that I feel creativity is often not thought about at all. With the development of digital photography and perpetual updates to software programs it seems that most curriculum on the subject is focused on keeping up with technology rather than cultivating the ideas about how best to use the technology for a creative expression.
As I look at this minimal attempt at Super 8mm filmmaking with all its grain and flicker, I see something that is indeed richer and connects with my emotions on deep level. I think this is worth exploring further in the coming year.