as exiting as ever and there's a lot to do, I have had a few
people ask me to build them telecine machines, building a low
cost scanning unit but one that can get the best out of film
is challenging. For the past year I have been working with a
16mm Magazine camera, yes those little cameras from a bygone
era, I have always dismissed this format but was very impressed
when I saw some old films shot with this format. So I got an
old 16mm Magazine camera and used it with new film and the results
were remarkable, I will write more about my developments in
the technology section.
lot has happened over the summer; I set up the Analogue Film
Academy, the aim is to run cheap and accessible film [celluloid]
workshops across the country where people will learn skills
in Super 8, Super 16/16mm and 35mm film you can find out more
here - www.analoguefilmacademy.co.uk.
I filmed a short film and have re-devoloped my film scanner
and made a film spooling system to easily make 100ft spools
of film from larger loads. I sold a few things on Ebay although
one of the sales has gone pear shaped and I did attend a job
interview where I think I got the job but there's no work for
me which is, well odd. Stephen Speilberg was in town shooting
his latest film, an eye witnesses [a media/film student] said
that Steven Speilbery was filming with a cool digital kit, which
I later found out to be a 35mm kit.
Super 8 cheaper than 16mm?
is a question I get asked a lot, in reality it all depends how
much you shoot, if you're shooting a lot then 16mm works out
cheaper, but if you plan to shoot the odd roll here and there
then it's more expensive. With Super 8 you can shoot small amounts
and try and keep costs down, film, processing and scanning costs
for each Super 8 cartridge are around £55.00 and that's
for 2.5 minutes. In 16mm you have more choices; you can get
an older amateur camera that takes 100ft daylight spools or
a professional S16 camera that takes 400ft rolls of film. Getting
16mm cameras is very easy and these days professional S16 cameras
are very cheap to rent or buy, but remember lenses for these
professional cameras are expensive, unlike Super 8 where the
lens is a fixed in 16mm/S16 the lens comes separate.
factory sealed 100ft of 16mm is around £45.00 and a 400ft
roll is about £100.00, for processing it is around 15
pence per foot and scanning is another 15 pence per foot. In
reality it is possible to get 16mm film cheaper, through re-cans
or from other filmmakers who've just finished a shoot, I have
often got fresh stock this way and paid around £50.00
for a 400ft roll. I use the a-cam and it takes 100ft daylight
spools, it is quite easy to split the 400ft roll onto the small
100ft daylight spools. I have always managed to get fresh stock
in 100ft daylight spools for £14.00, 100ft of 16mm gives
you 2.5 minutes the same running time as one Super 8 cartridge.
If you can get 16mm stock cheaply then 16mm definitely works
out slightly cheaper as for each 100ft stock, processing and
scanning can be around £45.00. The problem for some is
that with 16mm the equipment is bigger more expensive lenses
and minimum charges from labs for processing and scanning. 16mm
is more complicated, I prefer to work with an assistant who
keeps a tab on film and threads it in the camera.
have been busy working on an project about spooling my 16mm
film from ther larger 400ft cores on to smaller 100ft daylight
spools. These days its getting harder to get any room
dark and while I was sitting in the dark [though I had night
vision goggles] manually winding the film I thought to myself
that theres got to be an easier way other than asking
a lab to do this for me. So I am building and designing [via
3D printing] a device that can be used easily in the daylight
to cut and spool down the 400ft rolls onto smaller 100ft daylight
have formed the Analogue Film Academy, it's main purpose is
to run courses and workshops teaching filmmakers on how to work
with film in this day and age.I am now working hard to form
partnerships with colleges and uninversities across England.
seems that this is the first time I've written in this section
this this year, I just haven't had time, a lot has been happening.
updated section click
am putting up reviews of 16mm cameras that I've used. Click
here for 16mm Cameras.
real costs of using 16mm
me it makes perfect sense to me to shoot Super 16, it's not
an irrational way to make a modern film at all. The main thing
that Super 16 does that digital doesn't is give you more creditbility,
people talk about your film a lot more. When you tell people
you shot digital these days it's just too 'common', everyone
does that, but when you tell someone you shot with Super 16mm
suddenly you get a lot more interest.
feel I that I am always justifying using Super 16, it seems
that everyone thinks it's too expensive, but my experiences
of using Super 16 tell me it's not as expensive as a lot of
people make out. I have just shot a feature narrative on Super
16 and have had a 2k Prores scan of the negative and am currently
editing the film on Adobe CS4. I have got my budget right in
front of me, people don't always share details of their budget
or talk about that in reality you have more than one budget,
in particular you will have; a proposed budget and and an actual
cost of 16mm was initially budgeted at £16,200 in my proposed
budget, these costs included fresh Kodak stock, processing and
scanning of 35000 feet or 90 rolls of 400 feet. We worked out
that we would have a 10:1 shooting ratio, a luxury in my opinion
as I realistically don't think you need to shoot every shot
ten times. The actual film costs were quite different and much
less as the film was shot on some of the last batches of Fujifilm's
64D and 250D from Frame 24 in the UK, Fujifilm costs much less
than fresh Kodak film. We also used less film, this was because
there wasn't much dialogue and the actors were good, we ended
up shooting at an average 5:1 ratio.
the recent advances in digital image capturing technlogy, celluloid
film is still here, film originated images still have an imeasurable
beauty that audiences easily relate to, even at a subliminal
level. It is why so many film-makers who use digital are trying
their hardest to emulate film.
think they call it ‘media democracy’ and apparently ‘progress’
where virtually anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves
professional, people forget that to become professional you
not only need the right tools, but the right training, experience
and talent. In today’s word the word ‘amateur’ is seen as old
fashioned and nobody wants to be of touch. This ‘media democracy’
has killed off large sections of the corporate video world as
companies are trying to do videos themselves, it’s killing off
television too, but I believe that in the end the ‘real’ professionals
[the ones with experience, training and talent] will thrive.
a long break from my blog I have decided to keep it regularly
with film for low budget short films
am always asking filmmakers to shoot their film on Super 16,
I am certain that in most situations shooting on film will cost
much less than the usual digital or pro-consumer digital systems
like the DSLR's and the BMPCC. As a freelance Director of Photography
I have professional Super 16 cameras, lenses and accessories
as well as a good working knowledge of the film and digital
workflow as well as having experience and links with film purchasing,
processing and scanning labs, ensuring that the film experience
is not too difficult nor too expensive.
young filmmakers seem to have money £10-20k to make a
film with; personally I'm always amazed as to me that seems
like an awful lot of money. In most cases this sort of money
is the amount they are prepared to spend on purchasing a digital
camera, while exciting, it's a bit extravagant to buy something
which will get superseded and become obsolete very quickly,
if the goal is to make a film then then buying such equipment
is not alwys the best option.
lot of filmmakers want that film 'look', but they know very
little about film. Why should they know about film? Everyone's
been telling them that film is 'dead' and that digital is the
only way. Here's the thing - the reality is that film is not
'dead' in fact quite a lot of feature films, TV shows and low
budgets films are still shot on film, film can work out to be
a much cheaper and easier option than the latest digital hardware.
In my experience shooting on Super 16 can give any production
all sorts of advantages; Super 16 can make a film stand out
[of course the photography has to be good], it will have that
authentic look that you won't get with digital. Film doesn't
have to be that expensive, equipment is cheap, one can shoot
with a tight shooting ratio, this means the shoot takes very
little time - saving money on other things like crew expenses,
labour, food and transport, and also this will help keep lab
and scanning costs low too. So why not take the plunge and shoot
film and more information contact me!
after almost ten months, the new Super 16 camera has arrived
all the way from Canada, it's the A-Cam but this one has a reflex
viewfinder done a few years ago by a company in New York. It
iis an orientable Angenieux viewfinder, the viewfinder is pretty
heavy making the camera a bit awkward to hold. I wonder if it
kind of defeats the purpose of having a small and light camera,
but the image is very big and it makes a huge difference.
have always felt that there is a certain unique quality to instant
photographs, but I was never really interested in instant photography
as traditional photography is far more superior. I briefly used
a mini Instax camera in the 1990's it was fun to see pictures
immediately and now several years later my interest in photography
has been renewed after having seeing the new Fujifilm Neo Classic
camera on display in a retail store. I am surprised that instant
photography is now very popular, so I took out my old Mini Instax
camera and have started taking it virtually everywhere taking
photographs. There is an unexplainable charm to instant photography
that is missing elsewhere, after taking a photograph the camera
immediately ejects the photograph, which starts out as a blank
white card but as you watch this card quite miraculously an
image slowly appears and within minutes you are physically holding
the photograph that you had just taken a few moments ago.
was well over a year ago when I optimistically decided to make
a film, not really kowing what I was getting myself into. On
reflection I was very unprepared to make a film, quite ironic
really as I have been telling others and teaching people about
making films for years. I was at the deep end and there are
far too many things to look out for when making a film, apart
from getting the right script, things that I didn't consider.
I was completely out of my comfort zone when it came getting
a reliable team, sorting out legal matters and locations and
of course dealing with egos of actors and all the associated
problems they bring.
I didn't really know whether to work with digital or film cameras,
my gut told me to work with film, I knew film and had always
shot on film, but everyone I knew kept saying that things had
changed and that I should use digital. I quickly learned about
digital and became aware of the enormous advances made in digital
camera technology. At the end of the day I opted to shoot with
Super 16, not just because I wanted to, this decision really
came about because it was and is actually cheaper to work with
it than equivalent digital systems.
ask him, he's a film guy'
It's a strange thing to say,
of course when someone comes to me to ask me for advice naturally
I will talk about film and possibly encourage people to use
16mm. Mainly because I know from experience that many young
'filmmakers' never think of using film, they often tell me that
they grew up in the digital era, but they are all too baffled
when I tell them that most of the films they grew up with in
their 'digital era' have actually been captured on film. They
are even more astounded when they realise that I know more about
digital capture than they had originally thought.
am a filmmaker and telling the story is the most crucial thing
for me whether I use film or digital. I just happen to use film
because in my experience it delivers a better image and it always
works out cheaper.
The trials and tribulations of online selling, I have had an
Ebay account for many years and have bought many things off
Ebay, but I haven't really sold many things until now. I recently
decided to sell a lot of my cine equipment as I need more space
and am not doing any film workshops this summer. I have realised
that everything on Ebay is really designed in the favour of
the buyer and sellers are really discriminated against and regarded
as nothing more than rip off merchants. In instances where something
doesn't arrive on time or what has arrived doesn't quite match
the description, one expects that any normal person would send
a message to the seller first and stating their concerns, but
it seems to be quite common for buyers to simply 'open a case'
against the seller. This is a cruel and vindictive practice
and I would say immoral as it causes the small seller [people
like me who are simply trying to get rid of a few things] problems
especially as 'an open case' freezes the sellers Paypal account
which doesn't allow the seller to buy using their Paypal, until
the dispute [the open case] has been resolved.
It has been some time since I last posted, the last few weeks
have spent in editing room and now I have an edited film, which
now needs background sounds and ADR and a muisic sound track.
After a year of practice shooting on Super 16 and understanding
its workflow from filming with it to processing it and then
scanning it I feel very satisfied that I'm working with real
film. For the past few weeks I been having a rest from filming
the 'Art Film' which I think I might call ' Journey', I have
sort of completed most of the shoot and now I have lots of cans
of film waiting to be sent for processing. After all the film
is processed and digitised the process of editing will start
and I will work out what I need to film as there are still sequences
that I would like to shoot with the actors. The main actor has
unfortunately decided not to continue with the film, I don't
think he wants to persue acting as a career, his decision to
leave has come as a bit of a shock and is very disappointing
as he only had one days filming left. I think it's time for
me to embark on a new career path as I have decided that for
my next project I won't spend energy looking for actors instead
I will act myself.
I just thought I'd share my recent experiences with 16mm film.
Back in 2012 it did feel that 16mm was on it was way out, with
Fujifilm stopping production of all their motion picture film
and with Kodak's financial problems being very apparent, but
things have changed and film is still here and even broadcasters
are accepting 16mm once again. In 2013 I re-discovered 16mm
and have been surprised that it can be cheaper and in many cases
easier to use than Super 8, especially here in the UK.
I bought an A Cam SP-16, apart from its obvious limitations;
of not really having a proper viewfinder and being a bit of
a nightmare loading film in it I have enjoyed using this camera.
It gives synchronised speed and very steady images and I have
used all sorts of lenses, I don't mind the short running times
of the 100ft loads.
I had bought the little known Kiev Alpha 16, to use its reflex
optics into my A cam converting it into a reflex camera. After
using this camera I was pleasantly surprised at how steady the
pictures were. I was also very taken with fact I needed no power
for the camera, it being clockwork. After using it for a while
I felt quite liberated at not having to charge the batteries
or look for power outlets to run the camera especially when
I am filming out and about. I was on a roll so I decided to
dig out my old Keystone Criterion 16mm camera, it works great
and smoothly, I tested it with some film and have been pleasantly
surprised at how steady the images are from this 65 year old
camera, I used my 9mm Kinoptic lens from the A Cam.
I recommend people using these older amateur 16mm cameras, they
do offer something different, they are incredibly cheap, and
they are much simpler machines, more compact as they are smaller
as they often only can only handle 100ft daylight spools. But
most importantly they are easier to load with film, after all
they were aimed at the ordinary person who wouldn't have necessarily
have had any specialist training as a camera operator.
I am having some of my films professionally transferred and
will put them online very soon. I am also building my frame
by frame film scanner for 16mm so I can easily transfer my 16mm
I haven't been on here to update thing for a while. By the end
of April we had shot most of The Woods, and it looked astonishing
good. By May our location - the woods started to look very different
as the weather had changed quite suddenly, we still needed to
film some more, but we had to stop filming, instead we started
to edit the material we had shot.
During the edit, I felt the narrative flowed much better as
a short film and decided to finish the film as an intense short
film instead. I re-worked the script and wrote some new scenes.
Because of this change I have had to out many of the original
scenes and characters. During September and October we did some
more filming and now have only a few more scenes left to film
for which we are waiting for the woods to look as they did in
April. The plan is to finish The Woods in early 2014 and screen
it for the cast and crew and then submit it to film festivals.
I am very excited about The Woods as it makes a very good short
film. The experience of making The Woods has been time consuming,
but very useful and very valuable. The experience has enabled
me to make another film; an experimental film, which would have
been impossible to make without the lessons learned from the
making The Woods.
I am very excited about this film which is currently untitled,
it's an unconventional story where nobody talks. There is no
dialogue, it's not a silent film though, there are sounds but
nobody speaks. I feel having no dialogue has been incredibly
liberating and exciting. Non verbal communication has challenged
me to think far deeper, more creatively about everything and
to approach each sequence differently.
It's been a while, a lot has been happening and I haven't had
the time to give an update. We are now in the final stages of
editing and will re-shoot some scenes later this month. Very
soon we will be ready to publish an online trailer of the film.
It's time to reflect on the past few months and to understand
what's gone right and what's gone wrong. It's a critical time
in the production as we're working out things like how much
we've spent. The whole experience of making The Woods has taught
all of us a great deal, it's been fun, scary and challenging.
We are now confidentally planning our next film.
Recently there's been a lot of doom and gloom and processing
labs have been closing down. I was going to have my film processed
and scanned by Technicolor but then I heard that they are closing
their film processing lab. I looked around and found Bucks Media
Services, they offered to process and scan my tests for free.
They are committed and really passionate about film, I like
their helpful staff and high quality processing and telecine
and so I decided to have them to process and scan the entire
film. Yesterday, I visited their lab as I went to give my films
for processing I was given a tour, which was brilliant, everyone
was very welcoming. Other labs have been reluctant to give me
- a small independent filmmaker a tour. Clearly Bucks are reaching
out to independent filmmakers and I feel they have the best
facilities and people to help independents who are using film.
I am exhausted! It's been a difficult few weeks and all sorts
of things have happened, we've had camera problems, location
changes and issues with staff, we now have a very tiny crew.
On a positive note we have now finished a significant part of
the shoot and have only a few scenes and grab shots still left
to do. We are taking a week off to look through the rushes.
Though tiring, it's been great as I have had the pleasure of
working with an excellent crew and brilliant actors.
It seems ages since my last update. A lot has happened since,
we have had an actor's workshop which went very well, we're
recruiting the production team, and have confirmed our locations.
We had a test shoot which was really a practise run, it has
been very helpful in many ways, logistically, technically and
creatively, we still have more tests to do, the recent snow
has slowed us down, our final tests are about lenses.
Once we've finished our tests we will send the film to the lab
for processing and telecine. We have decided that we will shoot
on Super 16 and have chosen Bucks Media for all the processing
and scanning of the film. Due to the difficult terrain of the
location we are looking at doing some green screen work and
are scheduling a green screen test day, though this test may
not happen as the date of the actual shoot is fast approaching.
We have finished amending the script which we will send out
to the production team and actors and have finalised the cast,
the details will be on the website very soon.
The question of what I would shoot The Woods has cropped up
many times. Format and technology are important as the tools
can affect the production in so many ways such as the style,
the look and with each format you approach your work differently.
As I want that film look I wanted to shoot The Woods on 35mm.
Despite my enthusiasm for this 35mm finding 2-perf 35mm equipment
has been a major problem. I started to explore options using
digital technology after all these days digital is what most
people understand. I was being persuaded to the many benefits
shooting digital would bring and to forget film. I was told
that digital would allow for an easy workflow, it's cheaper
and quicker, but looking at digital this wasn't the case, to
get the same quality as film on the big screen digital was looking
too expensive and a digital workflow would mean slower working
adding to more shooting dates, thus increasing the budget even
more. After seriously exploring the digital option I have decided
not to shoot with it.
Now that digital is out I started to look other options with
film, I turned to Super 16, still used for feature film production,
though sadly British television doesn't use it much anymore.
Major films are shot with Super 16 such as The Wrestler, The
Hurt Locker and the American television series such as The Walking
Dead. Professional 16mm gear is incredibly cheap to either rent
or buy. I got hold of some gear and stock and have decided to
do some tests and already I am pleasently surprised with the
ease and portability of everything. I think the look will suit
our story too, Super 16 might be the format we finally decide
on, but at the moment we are doing some tests. If these tests
don't give us the look that we feel is right for The Woods then
we will revisit 35mm again.
The Newsletter - 01/03/13
I've got to finish the newsletter, sadly it will be my last
as the editor. I love editing the newsletter, but as the film
is gaining momentum I finding that I don't have much time. Thank
you to all who have helped me maintain the newsletter to such
a high standard, a special thanks goes to Robert Booth - my
predecessor, truly inspiring, his help and support has been
invaluable. I will miss being editor.
February 2013 - Locations
There's so much to think about, we finalised the story and script
last year, although I want to add something. Hopefully we will
have all the cast and crew confirmed by the end of next week.
Then it's finding and confirming our locations, we've identified
and booked some places, but there's still more to do. If we
can't find what we're after, there's the possibility of building
a set and doing some green screen work. It's getting complicated.
January 2013 - Making a film
I am making a film - The Woods, something I have wanted to do
for a long time, but it seemed better to do something else instead
so I have spent years teaching and lecturing about it. People
are asking me what the film is about, well it will be a very
slick, fast paced and entertaining thriller, with great twists,
terrific performances, stunning visuals and original music.