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Possible 16mm Student Project


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#1 anamexis

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 10:12 PM

Hello, for a long time I have been very interested in cinematography. Right now, I'm 17 and finishing my junior year in high school in Minneapolis. I'm planning on going to film school after I graduate.
Now that the background is taken care of:
Lately I have been playing with the idea of doing an IP (independent project) most likely with the photography teacher here, consisting of shooting a short (~9 minute) film on B&W 16mm. I have had this concept of a music video of sorts (although I dislike the connotation given to it by pop music.) In very short, its kind of a storytelling, dialogue-free, dance movie set to music. Maybe a bit more on that later.
Anyways.
I was originally planning on just shooting this on DV this summer with some friends, but the mystery and majesty of film has caught me. Obviously, film is quite a step up from DV, especially of someone with limited knowledge as me. The first thing I looked into was budget. It looks something like this:
$95.00 One day rental of one Arri SB (from here)
$15.00 400 ft SB mag (1 day rental, same place)
$105.00 One 400 ft roll of Eastman Plus-X 7265 Reversal
$75.00 Approximate cost of processing
$100.00 Transfer to MiniDV
That's a $390 budget right there...which is quite something but I think it would be doable with a bit of fundraising. Of course, I'm probably forgetting something, which is where you all come in. I was thinking of just assuming $500 in expenses and forgoing any surprises, what do you think?

The second question I have is whether this is possible with my level of expertise in film, which is to say, very little. I am willing to do a lot of reading, but the problem is, there doesn't seem to be many books on the basics of filmmaking itself, rather than cinematography. Basic things like figuring out correct exposure and computing light levels. Of course, there probably are books and I am probably just missing their horribly obvious presence.

Anyways, this is basically my abstract for the project, just a little something I've been dreaming of lately. It couldn't look bad on film school apps, either. But my real question is, what do you, the learned and experienced, think of this idea? What am I missing? Is it feasible? Would you recommend it?

Thank you so much in advance, I can't express how great a resource this is.

Micah Buckley-Farlee
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 10:25 PM

My only advice is to see if you can find a 16mm camera to borrow for free before you settle on renting it.

The other is, unless you are careful about exposing, you're better off shooting b&w negative than reversal because the latitude of reversal is limiting, although if you nail the exposures, it looks great (rich blacks, high contrast, sharp.)

Another option is to shoot color neg and turn it into b&w in the telecine transfer.
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#3 anamexis

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 10:37 PM

My only advice is to see if you can find a 16mm camera to borrow for free before you settle on renting it.

The other is, unless you are careful about exposing, you're better off shooting b&w negative than reversal because the latitude of reversal is limiting, although if you nail the exposures, it looks great (rich blacks, high contrast, sharp.)

Another option is to shoot color neg and turn it into b&w in the telecine transfer.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Do you have any recommendations as to where I could ask about borrowing a camera?

Also, if i went with b&w neg, would I have to get it processed and consequently printed, or could I just do the telecine straight from the neg? And finally, what advantages would shooting color neg hold over b&w neg?

Again, thank you so much for your help.
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#4 anamexis

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 12:08 AM

Also, go ahead and scratch that paragraph about books being hard to find. I am an idiot.

Edited by anamexis, 19 May 2005 - 12:15 AM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 12:34 AM

Do you have any recommendations as to where I could ask about borrowing a camera?

Also, if i went with b&w neg, would I have to get it processed and consequently printed, or could I just do the telecine straight from the neg? And finally, what advantages would shooting color neg hold over b&w neg?

Again, thank you so much for your help.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


No idea which of your friends has a 16mm camera...

You can telecine negative directly to video; they just electronically reverse it into a positive image. Assuming you use a real telecine (Rank Cintel, Spirit, etc.) and not some cheap film chain device (basically a video camera pointed at a 16mm projector).

Color neg turned b&w in the telecine tends to look sharper and finer-grained, but it can lack that "true" b&w look in terms of the grain structure. "Man Who Wasn't There" was shot this way, on color neg stock. You still have to light for what looks good in b&w in terms of contrast, shadows, etc.
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#6 FilmmakerJack

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 12:41 AM

I'm also a 17 year old junior about to finish school into 16mm. My only word of advice is take your budget and be ready to multiply it by 2, 2.5, maybe even three times if you have to. Everything that can go wrong, can and most likely will, especially if this is your first time. Rehearese a LOT. As far as books go, there is quite a great deal amount of difference between academic knowledge and wisdom gained from experience. This is your first time, so don't get too stressed out if the works happens to you. Also, know when to settle and when not to. These are some of the things I learned from shooting my first short on 16mm.

post script: if you're shooting on location, don't have a heart attack if some guy does something stupid in the background and wastes your film, it's gonna happen. haha.

post script (again): also, Mullen, you rock. You gave awesome advice for me and really saved me a lot of stress and cash when I was filming. Thanks a bunch.

Edited by FilmmakerJack, 19 May 2005 - 12:44 AM.

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#7 anamexis

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 08:07 AM

Thank you both. I was wondering how much to multiply my budget by.

Also, given the choice, would people here rent a slightly higher quality camera (such as the Arri SB), or just buy a K-3, given the small budget I have?
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#8 Nate Downes

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 08:31 AM

Don't forget the option of Super8 as well. Now, as for the K-3, I own 2 of them, and find them quite easy to work with, easy to get good exposure with a little practice.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:30 AM

Definitely just rent the Arri-SB, don't buy a 16mm camera for a small shoot like that.

Just talk to the rental house and make sure you have everything you need and there are no hidden costs (like insurance.) You'll need a tripod w/ head, for example, batteries, a zoom lens, mattebox or sunshade, maybe filters, plus a changing bag probably unless you've got a blacked-out room for loading a 400' mag.
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#10 robtags

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:37 AM

You could probably go with a cheaper camera. For instance you can purchase a wind-up 16mm camera called the Krasnogorsk-3 (or K-3) for around $150 on ebay. But know that it will only run for 20 seconds on a wind, so if you need longer takes, stick with the S/B. Also the K-3 will not accept film magazines, so you'll have to reload the film often.


BTW. You'll likely need more than 400ft of film for a 9 minute short. 400ft is 11:06 minutes of film, that doesn't give you alot of room for error. I would try to cut it down a bit in length, 9 minutes is hefty for a first time foray into film.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:43 AM

You'll likely need more than 400ft of film for a 9 minute short. 400ft is 11:06 minutes of film, that doesn't give you alot of room for error. I would try to cut it down a bit in length, 9 minutes is hefty for a first time foray into film.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, a 400' roll would work for a 3 minute short. For a 9 minute short, he'd want at least four 400' rolls (if this were extensive dialogue coverage, which it isn't, more like eight rolls for a 9 minute short.)
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#12 robtags

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:51 AM

I hate to be a party pooper, but I would really try to cut the project down a bit, or maybe save this project for later and film something a little shorter and not too complicated until you gain more experience.

The first time I shot on film it took like 6 hours to shoot and the total editied length was just over one minute :lol:. I was nervous so I had to double-check everything and rehearse many times. And it's not that good. If you try to shoot a 9 minute short in one day on 400ft of film never having used film before it probably won't be very good.

Not saying it can't be done, but just suggesting you may be putting a bit too much on your plate for your first time eating :P
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#13 anamexis

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 11:18 AM

Thanks for the input, I think I'll make 3:00 of edited film my goal, maybe I could get a 400' roll and then an extra 100' roll or 2 to play around with.

I'm still not to sure about the rental vs. buy thing for the camera. I could get a K-3 for just marginally more than the cost of renting the Arri for a day. This would allow me to familiarize myself with the camera, maybe even buy some short ends and play around with it a bit.

With the K-3 reloading issue, I would just need a bag for that, right?

Edited by anamexis, 19 May 2005 - 11:19 AM.

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#14 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 08:23 PM

Look, I would follow David's advice...

I think you'd better rent this time and see afterwards for your next project considering buying.

You see, I don't know when you plan to shoot but if you plan to buy a K3 on ebay, you'll first be bothered by the "am I gonna be ripped off ?" problem, then you'll have to test that camera - do you know how to do that - consider having to eventually fix something, find someone to do it, spare parts etc.

If you rent, you can rely on a rental facility, consider you'll start with a working camera with no doubt, and if you ever have a problem, you have someone you can discuss with...

The result itself and the ease of work will be better with arri 16 than a K3 anyway...

Sorry you are so far, I would have lent you my 16ST...

Anyway, seriously take account of the considerations on stock consumption that were made, it will help you.

Good luck in your projects !
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#15 anamexis

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:19 PM

I see your point. I will stick to rental, unless I am lucky enough to come across someone with a 16mm they are willing to lend.
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#16 Rik Andino

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:55 AM

Are you near any filmschools?

Perhaps you can meet up with a film student
Who may have access to 16mm equipment...
You can make some sorta agreement to collaborate.

That just one way of getting free access to film equipment.

One thing to note when shooting anything on film
To have a better estimate to how much film stock you'll need
You should always multiply the lenght of your project by 3 or 4...
Usually small student shorts have a 4:1 ratio...so this work out...

Another quick way I sometimes do for small indie projects...
Is multiply the amount of days by 4 or 5...
Expecting to only roll off five rolls...(which is usually alot for indie productions)


Anyways
Good Luck
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#17 FilmmakerJack

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 01:15 AM

Rik's right. Be ready to use a lot of film. Also, things really depend on your actors. You'll be surprised how much time to spend as a director making sure everything goes right, only to find your actor hasn't been prepped enough. You get upset at the actor for a while, only until you realize prepping him is the your job.
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#18 Jordan Brade

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 03:21 AM

Hello, for a long time I have been very interested in cinematography. Right now, I'm 17 and finishing my junior year in high school in Minneapolis. I'm planning on going to film school after I graduate.
Now that the background is taken care of:
Lately I have been playing with the idea of doing an IP (independent project) most likely with the photography teacher here, consisting of shooting a short (~9 minute) film on B&W 16mm. I have had this concept of a music video of sorts (although I dislike the connotation given to it by pop music.) In very short, its kind of a storytelling, dialogue-free, dance movie set to music. Maybe a bit more on that later.
Anyways.
I was originally planning on just shooting this on DV this summer with some friends, but the mystery and majesty of film has caught me. Obviously, film is quite a step up from DV, especially of someone with limited knowledge as me. The first thing I looked into was budget. It looks something like this:
$95.00 One day rental of one Arri SB (from here)
$15.00 400 ft SB mag (1 day rental, same place)
$105.00 One 400 ft roll of Eastman Plus-X 7265 Reversal
$75.00 Approximate cost of processing
$100.00 Transfer to MiniDV
That's a $390 budget right there...which is quite something but I think it would be doable with a bit of fundraising. Of course, I'm probably forgetting something, which is where you all come in. I was thinking of just assuming $500 in expenses and forgoing any surprises, what do you think?

The second question I have is whether this is possible with my level of expertise in film, which is to say, very little. I am willing to do a lot of reading, but the problem is, there doesn't seem to be many books on the basics of filmmaking itself, rather than cinematography. Basic things like figuring out correct exposure and computing light levels. Of course, there probably are books and I am probably just missing their horribly obvious presence.

Anyways, this is basically my abstract for the project, just a little something I've been dreaming of lately. It couldn't look bad on film school apps, either. But my real question is, what do you, the learned and experienced, think of this idea? What am I missing? Is it feasible? Would you recommend it?

Thank you so much in advance, I can't express how great a resource this is.

Micah Buckley-Farlee

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I'm also a 17 year old Junior in highschool who's been seduced by film.

Here are a few books that have helped me along the path:
1. Cinematography (I can't remember the name of the author. He's a Polish Cinematographer)
2. The Filmmaker's handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus (Pretty technical and comprehensive)
3. How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 and Not Go to Jail by Bret Stern (After reading those really technical books, it's kind of nice to hear some one talk about using film in a simplified way)

Also, reading stuff on this board and asking questions is a good way too :)

When I started thinking about doing film and creating budgets for possible ideas, I started calling places about equipment and supplies and whatnot. When of the places I called was Fujifilm (Film stock is cheaper than Kodak, and I like the way it looks based off of the movies and shows that I've seen that have used Fuji stock) and asked them about ordering film from them and how much it would cost to go through the whole process. The person on the other line was very helpful. I even asked about the student discount, and if it applied to me even though I'm in highschool, and they said that they would be willing to give me the student discount.
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#19 anamexis

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:24 PM

I'm also a 17 year old Junior in highschool who's been seduced by film.

Here are a few books that have helped me along the path:
1. Cinematography (I can't remember the name of the author. He's a Polish Cinematographer)
2. The Filmmaker's handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus (Pretty technical and comprehensive)
3. How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 and Not Go to Jail by Bret Stern (After reading those really technical books, it's kind of nice to hear some one talk about using film in a simplified way)

Also, reading stuff on this board and asking questions is a good way too  :)

When I started thinking about doing film and creating budgets for possible ideas, I started calling places about equipment and supplies and whatnot. When of the places I called was Fujifilm (Film stock is cheaper than Kodak, and I like the way it looks based off of the movies and shows that I've seen that have used Fuji stock) and asked them about ordering film from them and how much it would cost to go through the whole process. The person on the other line was very helpful. I even asked about the student discount, and if it applied to me even though I'm in highschool, and they said that they would be willing to give me the student discount.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


More beautiful advice, thank you. I will definitely have to look into the student discount on Fuji stock. Have you shot your film yet, or if not, are you still planning on it?
I will look into those books, they sound great.
Next hour I'm going to go talk to the photography teacher about getting the IP.

Edited by anamexis, 20 May 2005 - 12:29 PM.

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#20 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:40 PM

The problem with renting @ age 17 is this: Most places will not rent to someone not able to legally sign a rental agreement, more less some one not even old enough to sue if you dont return the equipment.

If you know of a rental house that allows a 17 year old to rent from them, please pass them my way!
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Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Visual Products

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Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Technodolly