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Why Super-8 Film Festivals Are Needed


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 02:52 PM

The "super 8 community" suffers continued harm by segregating itself to seperate festivals to "honor" super 8 films. As you may have noticed, Alex, super 8 is now something that is EXPECTED in the top film festivals in the world for short film submissions. As I pointed out in my initial post. The less the "hobby approach" to super 8 is taken, the more it has grown as a viable film origination medium for narrative and documentary filmmaking. Especially short form.


The two Super-8 film festivals that come closest to the criteria of a film festival strictly for Super-8 actually don't qualify.

SchmalFilm is a strictly Super-8 festival, however the inclusion of film projected Super-8 entries, in my opinion, limits the versatility of the films thats will be shown because AUDIO IS at least 50% of the final product, and a digitally edited project should always have better audio than one presented on the original super-8 film via a film projector. Some may disagree but audio is the secret elixer that drives most good productions. Just think back to your favorite television commercials, many have a good sound track that plays off of the imagery. I just don't see any super-8 festival that accepts actual Super-8 film entries submitted on film, choosing not to show any of those entries even if all of the digitally edited films were better.

That leaves the Rutgers Super-8 film festival, which actually welcomes Digital video entries as well, therefore it's not an exclusive Super-8 film festival, and again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that there actually isn't even one Super-8 film festival that is devoted the top Super-8 films that were edited for the highest quality for both sound and picture.

So basically, there are currently ZERO Super-8 film festivals that exclusively show Super-8 films that actually are digitally edited versions of the original Super-8 film. This is bothersome to me because when a Super-8 film such as Ben Crowe's is selected as a finalist at Cannes in the short film category, who really knew that it was shot in Super-8 besides those that already know what Super-8 is? While some may say "that is the point, Super-8 has become accepted to the point where nobody cares", it still wouldn't hurt to have an assembly of Super-8 productions all in place for those that want to learn about the format.

I think all of the Super-8 festivals that promote the in-camera edited style of super-8 filmmaking are great, I think the ones where wild sound tracks are allowed are terrific as well, but there needs to be a balance to these types of super-8 film festivals specifically to avoid segregating Super-8 into the in-camera edited genre or the projected with a film projector genre, or projected digitally but accompanied with a wild sound track only.

Having one actual Super-8 film festival that is completely devoted to Super-8 films that have been digitally edited would be a marvelous educational tool and reveal all the ways that Super-8 is still being used. If such a festival exists, please let this forum and myself in on it.
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#2 santo

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 03:26 PM

The correct place for entering super 8 originated films digitally edited and shown at festival on digiBeta are, in no particular order:

Cannes
Toronto
Sundance
Worldwide Short Film Festival
Melbourne
Berlin
Clermont-Ferrand
Sydney
Edinburgh
Hof
New York (New Directors, New Films)
Oberhausen
Rotterdam
San Francisco
San Sebastian
Austin (SXSW)
Valladolid
Torino
Tokyo
Tampere (short)
Pusan

...place your world class film festival of choice here which I might have missed...

...place your smaller specialty and genre film festivals here...

Perhaps you should enter your super 8 short in one of the above. The one in the Rutgers thing. I guess you can't, as it was made 23 years ago, but you must be shooting some super 8 projects these days, aren't you? If not, why not? You must have some talent. People liked the super 8 you shot two decades ago. With all the life experience you now have, I'm certain you could tell a really good short story with a great deal of depth that's even better. Serious. Get out there and make a movie, Alex! Over the past 3 or 5 years the world has opened up to (because technology has enabled you to deliver) your efforts on super 8 at the highest levels there is for short filmmaking.
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#3 Giles Perkins

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 12:12 PM

Get out there and make a movie, Alex! Over the past 3 or 5 years the world has opened up to (because technology has enabled you to deliver) your efforts on super 8 at the highest levels there is for short filmmaking.


I'd echo Santo's views on this - a Super 8 film made Cannes last year, there were several at Sundance this year and thats without the single cartridge festivals springing up all over the place. Super 8 shorts were shown at Cannes last year and there'll be a Super 8 presence at Park City next year; see http://onsuper8.blog...ompetition.html

Things are on the up!!!
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 03:08 PM

I'd echo Santo's views on this - a Super 8 film made Cannes last year, there were several at Sundance this year and thats without the single cartridge festivals springing up all over the place. Super 8 shorts were shown at Cannes last year and there'll be a Super 8 presence at Park City next year; see http://onsuper8.blog...ompetition.html

Things are on the up!!!


Don't these Super-8 shorts require the filmmaker to shoot one cartridge of film and then actually in camera edit as they shoot? Then only wild sound is added?

This is a very entertaining formula but one that does not show off Super-8 as an actual filming format for creating more "conventional, planned" filmmaking content. Even so, I have seen a few films made this way that came out so good they could be broadcast on HBO or Showtime.

But it can take so much effort to make one of these in camera films that I really can't fathom the unprocessed film being shipped elsewhere. An alternative approach I would like to see for an in-camera edited super-8 film festival would be to allow the Super-8 labs to verify that a film was processed at their facility and then transferred to video.

I then think it would be cool to give the filmmaker a video copy of their transferred to video film so they can construct a soundtrack that would sync up perfectly with the film. This still preserves the spirit of in-camera editing while allowing the filmmaker's film to come to life via a soundtrack.

Another area that I question is their projecting the original Super-8 films! I've been there and done that, and frankly I've actually intercut (with an actual film splicer) some wonderful super-8 shots that no longer exist unedited. This was back in my film school days so the idea that the Super-8 "progression" into the digital age is to "in camera-edit" films that are then film projected puzzles me.

If I'm a 35mm purist, I can understand wanting to see film projected big via a film projector, but when it comes to the Super-8 image, at a certain threshold projection size, the image will actually look better via a huge laser projected digital video image than from a film projector.

We used to use an Elmo Xenon Super-8 Projector to show our Super-8 films when I was in college, all in all it was quite impressive and the projected Super-8 film image was at least 15-18 feet high, but any bigger than that and I'd rather project a BetaCam SP video copy of my film with a line-doubling digital video projector with the added bonus of top notch audio that's actually been meticulously designed for the film that is being projected. There isn't one Super-8 festival in the world that operates under the premise that I just laid out.

I'm not against anyone that currently operates under the "in-camera edit formula" and then "project the film originals the night of the festival" concept that is very popular, I'd just like to see someone somewhere advance the concept a bit and bring it into the digital age.

The Rutgers Super-8 Film Festival uses this advanced concept for their film festival, but they also accept strictly digital video entries as well.
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#5 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 05:25 PM

for what it's worth i've made several super 8 films and music videos that screened at well knows festivals (well, no cannes or sundance but still) and on television among stuff shot in 35mm, hd, video or whatever. all super 8 festivals do is establishing super 8 as a gimmick so i can see what santo means. it's the music videos, skateboarding movies and cannes shorts that bring more people to the format. and yes, people do recognize super 8 in those.

/matt
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#6 santo

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 03:07 PM

...all super 8 festivals do is establishing super 8 as a gimmick...


That's right. Exactly my point.

I think it's great to see super 8 continue to find a home in music videos and skater and board videos, too. Either used for optimized super 8 quality or even a rough, raw film look, quite honestly.

Nothing short of a complete miracle has occured in the past 3 years or so for this little format and what it can now do. I just like to stand up for the enormous diversity and potential in this little format which the merciful death of Kodachrome 40 has brought us. Every professional film stock is now available for super 8 immediate order -- 30 some and counting! Dozen(s) of professional grade telecine sources. several professional grade NLE editing programmes to edit with. MD, HiMD and many other alternatives for sound. Lot's of cross-over equipment for the DV world that can be used with super 8 cameras. It goes on and on and on...

Segregating and self-restricting super 8 to side-show film festivals is living in the past and doesn't make any more sense thanks to the revolution we have witnessed.
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#7 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 11:33 PM

for what it's worth i've made several super 8 films and music videos that screened at well knows festivals (well, no cannes or sundance but still) and on television among stuff shot in 35mm, hd, video or whatever. all super 8 festivals do is establishing super 8 as a gimmick so i can see what santo means. it's the music videos, skateboarding movies and cannes shorts that bring more people to the format. and yes, people do recognize super 8 in those.

/matt


I don't think your point accurately responds to my point. I'm not advocating dozens of Super-8 only film festivals be created. I am stating that ONE, or perhaps TWO Super-8 film festivals dedicated strictly to Super-8 that caters to the digital editing and digital projection aspect would be great.

It's off the mark to accuse me of having an idea built on a "gimmick" when the point of my idea is that virtually all the other well known festivals that highlight Super-8 confine the contest to in-camera edited Super-8 films, that is gimmickery and I welcome it, but to accuse me of gimmickery when I am advocating one or two Super-8 film festivals be dedicated to the best of Super-8 only, which in my opinion requires digital editing and sync sound.

Perhaps "Splice This" in Canada may actually fit this criteria, maybe Rick would know.


That's right. Exactly my point.

I think it's great to see super 8 continue to find a home in music videos and skater and board videos, too. Either used for optimized super 8 quality or even a rough, raw film look, quite honestly.

Segregating and self-restricting super 8 to side-show film festivals is living in the past and doesn't make any more sense thanks to the revolution we have witnessed.


That doesn't sound like the film festival I am proposing.
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#8 santo

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 08:57 AM

That doesn't sound like the film festival I am proposing.


Well, Alex, why don't you start a film festival as you are proposing? Everybody and their monkey has a "film festival" these days. I'm sure you could do that a lot better than some of them. Probably you could round up a few good things for your festival like a venue or two, judges, advertising, handle the paperwork, a website (you've already got one), co-ordinate everything. Prizes. Go for it if you really think there is a niche for something like this.

So what was it again? A festival where films must be originated on super 8 and then digitally edited and projected. I guess my big question then is, how are you going to ensure that these films were actually shot on super 8 and not on regular 8, single 8, 9.5mm, regular 16mm, video with some fake grain put in in post, pixelvision, or whatever? Or a mix of the various formats? Second problem, how heavy can the post production be? Using Maya and stuff, you can make a super 8 originated film pretty much unrecognizable and everything inbetween. The project could end up 90% CGI and the film as a "super 8 film" is pretty much moot. How are you going to regulate this kind of stuff?
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#9 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 03:17 PM

Well, Alex, why don't you start a film festival as you are proposing? Everybody and their monkey has a "film festival" these days. I'm sure you could do that a lot better than some of them. Probably you could round up a few good things for your festival like a venue or two, judges, advertising, handle the paperwork, a website (you've already got one), co-ordinate everything. Prizes. Go for it if you really think there is a niche for something like this.

So what was it again? A festival where films must be originated on super 8 and then digitally edited and projected. I guess my big question then is, how are you going to ensure that these films were actually shot on super 8 and not on regular 8, single 8, 9.5mm, regular 16mm, video with some fake grain put in in post, pixelvision, or whatever? Or a mix of the various formats? Second problem, how heavy can the post production be? Using Maya and stuff, you can make a super 8 originated film pretty much unrecognizable and everything inbetween. The project could end up 90% CGI and the film as a "super 8 film" is pretty much moot. How are you going to regulate this kind of stuff?


Because there are so many film festivals, would someone who shot on DV really care about one or two Super-8 film festivals? Once it's been shot on Super-8, the film can be augmented digitally however one would want.

Heck, when it was all said and done, my 22 year old black and white super-8 film that was edited via a film splicer with sound added using a super-8 projector was an experimental winner in the Super-8 film festival at Rutgers, overtreating a film doesn't make it automatically better.

Just because I don't plan on creating a Super-8 Film Festival doesn't mean I shouldn't at least suggest some guidelines.

Worldwide there are probably 5-10 film festivals on average, EVERY day of the year, yeesh!
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#10 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 12:51 AM

It's off the mark to accuse me of having an idea built on a "gimmick"

wow, not nearly as off the mark as accusing me of accusing you of that of course. i'm sure everybody else understood perfectly what i meant so i won't start an argument over it...

for the record i don't have anything against super 8 festivals. i just don't think they're needed, and especially not fot the reasons you describe.

/matt

Edited by mattias, 02 March 2006 - 12:53 AM.

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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:57 AM

wow, not nearly as off the mark as accusing me of accusing you of that of course. i'm sure everybody else understood perfectly what i meant so i won't start an argument over it...

for the record i don't have anything against super 8 festivals. i just don't think they're needed, and especially not fot the reasons you describe.

/matt


The gimmicks already exist in many Super-8 film festivals, that being the gimmick of in camera editing and wild sound versus a planned sound track, so accusing me of a gimmick idea when I'm actually asking for an innovation to what currently is offered makes your remark more suited for some of the festivals that already exist. By the way, I like the gimmicks, I just would like to see more of a balance with more standard types of requirement that most festivals follow.
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#12 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 07:03 AM

accusing me of a gimmick idea


BUT I WASN'T FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

/matt
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 01:57 PM

BUT I WASN'T FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

/matt


Ok, you used the word gimmick in a previous post. If you weren't describing my idea with the word gimmick, then you were descrbing other super-8 film festivals, yes?

But those other film festivals that I assume you are talking about as having gimmicks have helped Super-8 on some level. I'm talking Los Angeles Attack of the Fifty Foot Reels, Straight 8, Rick's festival in Canada, all of these festivals rely on in camera editing. A hip gimmick most would agree, but not one that actually shows off the all that super-8 has to offer.

I agree that ideally, the more super-8 films that win or place in conventional film festivals the more the format gets publicized, but I disagree that it is always known that it was a Super-8 film that won.
When Ben Crowe's film was selected finalist in the Cannes short film category with his Super-8 Kodachrome entry, Kodak, within a very short period of time, was announcing the END of Kodachrome filmstock production. I think that would qualify as a example of the bigger picture obfuscating the chance to really promote the Super-8 format.

When a mini-dv project wins an award in a major film festival, it surely will be publicized because it will mean more new mini-dv cameras sales. Although the awareness of super-8 is maintaining, it sure looks like there is a gap between the cool gimmick Super-8 contests and the ultra high end festivals that you and Santo have mentioned.

Rutgers, Small Format, and perhaps "Splice This" are somewhat filling that void.

By the way, Rutgers did receive 90 Super-8 entries, a pretty decent number.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 06:39 PM

Why not just have a Super-8 festival with sub-categories like "direct projection of the original" and "transferred to video", etc. and even "mixed media" for people who use Super-8 for parts of the project? Why does a festival have to be too specific regarding how the Super-8 was used?
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