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September 2016

A 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.

July 2016

Is Super 8 cheaper than 16mm?

This 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.

A 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.

May 2016

I 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 it’s 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 there’s 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 spools.

April 2016

I 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.

April 2016

It 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.


November 2015

New updated section click here

September 2015

I am putting up reviews of 16mm cameras that I've used. Click here for 16mm Cameras.

The real costs of using 16mm

To 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.

I 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 budget.

The 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.

 

August 2015

Despite 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.

August 2015

I 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.

After a long break from my blog I have decided to keep it regularly updated.

July 2015

Working with film for low budget short films

I 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.

Many 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.

A 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!

June 2015

Finally, 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.

September 2014

I 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.

August 2014

Time to Think

It 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.

Technically 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.


August 2014

'…don't 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.

I 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.

June 2014
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.

April 2014
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.


10/01/14
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 projects.

December 2013
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.

August 2013
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.

May 2013
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.

April 2013
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.

05/04/13
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.

March 2013
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.


July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

September 2014

August 2014

June 2014

April 2014

January 2014

December 2013

August 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 3013

February 2013

January 2013

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