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Want to shoot some 8mm short films for practice; tips, advice & a question

8mm short practice advice film

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#1 Brook K

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 04:37 PM

Ok, more than ONE question, I admit! :)

 

I am a VERY beginning filmmaker who has not an iota of filmmaking and directing experience. Yet I have the dream of creating this huge, complex, well-polished independent short film using motion picture film and professional movie cameras.

 

I am tempted to laugh at myself and say to myself, "Dude! You have no experience! Snap into reality and realize: you will not make this film and make it how you want it, without some type of filmmaking, directing, and cinematography experience."  I am sure that is true and so....

 

I have no video camera except a cheap phone that has barely any memory on it so that is not an option. I do not have the money to buy a DSLR with video capabilities that I could use, either. BUT, I do have a Super 8 camera that someone gave me. So I figure, why not work with what I've got?!

 

So, for any people out there who have made, or like to make, Super 8 films, what would be the best quality, least-grainy super 8 film out there? I would want it to be as clear and as close as possibly to standard 35 or 16mm as I can get, color-wise as well. I am guessing that the only way to do cuts is in-camera, correct? My camera has a tripod mount which I think is AWESOME, as I will definitely be using it!

 

I am wanting also to do slow motion and time-lapse with the film, which leads me to my main question! Am I correct in guessing I would have to do that post-filming, using an optical printer?


Edited by Brook K, 10 April 2017 - 04:37 PM.

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#2 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 06:34 PM

vision3, 50D is about the best you can get in Super8 format. it won't look anywhere near like 16mm or 35mm optically or grain wise but if your camera is good you can get nice images out of it. the emulsion is the same in super8, 16mm, 35mm so the colors and contrast are somewhat the same if not taking the poorer optics or smaller negative's effect into account.

 

"Huge" and "Complex" are no good starting points for a beginning filmmaker... given enough time, you can learn and gain lots of experience to make it happen but you need to make lots of simpler projects first where you can practice your skills and try different techniques. the filmmaking and directing experience/skills are more important for you I think because you said you will hire a experienced cinematographer for the production and you can let him/her to solve the cinematography and lighting related issues. 

but the storytelling part is what falls on you entirely and it is actually much more important for the film's success than pretty and polished images or great production values. 

 

you could get a video capable dslr for couple of hundred bucks and use your existing still lenses, it would be much cheaper in the long run than using Super8 camera as a learning tool. As said, it is very important to make multiple smaller projects before trying the huge and complex project and you will also need some producing experience if you are planning to do that part also by yourself. 

You can gain very valuable experience by contributing to other filmmaker's projects. if you know some indie guys, you can ask if you can come to their sets to help with anything and then observing their problem solving as closely as you can. 

 

photography and filmmaking differ hugely in many aspects and you need to start almost from zero when advancing to filmmaking from photography field. maybe something between 3 and 4 years for the process would be a good starting point.

you can speed up the process if you make lots of projects with experienced people (learning from them) and hire a experienced crew for your higher budget movie so that you can focus on the storytelling part and let the crew to handle the technical part of the production.


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 06:48 PM

there is btw the "Students and First Time Filmmakers" section which would be better for this type of topics and questions  :)

 

you can either "edit in camera" or use tape splicer for cutting the film. if using the negative stock you can maybe have it printed in the States so that you can practice simple negative cutting and editing in film. I don't know if it is valuable as a filmmaking learning experience compared to, say, having the negative transferred to video and then edited digitally so that you can try lots more different styles and approached with the editing.. the editing in film aspect may disturb the filmmaking learning a lot so if you want to experiment with the Super8 I recommend to have the first rolls transferred to video for easy editing and then when you have familiarized yourself with the process, you can try entirely photochemical finishing with the Super8 film.

 

for slow motion and time lapse you will shoot higher framerate or lower framerate compared to the normal speed (generally 18 or 24fps with super8) , and because you are shooting full frames the scene is already "slowed down" or "sped up" when playing it back at the projector's speed. optical printer is not needed 


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#4 Brook K

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 09:05 PM

you can either "edit in camera" or use tape splicer for cutting the film. if using the negative stock you can maybe have it printed in the States so that you can practice simple negative cutting and editing in film. I don't know if it is valuable as a filmmaking learning experience compared to, say, having the negative transferred to video and then edited digitally so that you can try lots more different styles and approached with the editing.. the editing in film aspect may disturb the filmmaking learning a lot so if you want to experiment with the Super8 I recommend to have the first rolls transferred to video for easy editing and then when you have familiarized yourself with the process, you can try entirely photochemical finishing with the Super8 film.

 

for slow motion and time lapse you will shoot higher framerate or lower framerate compared to the normal speed (generally 18 or 24fps with super8) , and because you are shooting full frames the scene is already "slowed down" or "sped up" when playing it back at the projector's speed. optical printer is not needed 

 

I suppose I forgot to mention! My super 8 camera doesn't have any controls for frame speed, zoom, or pretty much ANY control.  But I'm still very tempted to test out the medium and see what challenges and rewards it offers, even for just a very short experimental film.

 

As for using a DSLR, I definitely want to. I just don't have the money to buy even a basic video-capable one. I suppose I'll have to save up for one first. That bothers me though because I am 43 years old. I feel a burning desire to get this movie made before I get much older and before time therefore runs out. It's just frustrating, cuz I want to go from step A to step K, and know I can't but know I have to deal with those steps. :(    That's life i guess.


Edited by Brook K, 10 April 2017 - 09:06 PM.

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#5 aapo lettinen

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 04:38 AM

 

I suppose I forgot to mention! My super 8 camera doesn't have any controls for frame speed, zoom, or pretty much ANY control.  But I'm still very tempted to test out the medium and see what challenges and rewards it offers, even for just a very short experimental film.

 

As for using a DSLR, I definitely want to. I just don't have the money to buy even a basic video-capable one. I suppose I'll have to save up for one first. That bothers me though because I am 43 years old. I feel a burning desire to get this movie made before I get much older and before time therefore runs out. It's just frustrating, cuz I want to go from step A to step K, and know I can't but know I have to deal with those steps. :(    That's life i guess.

 

You are shooting with something like the Agfa Family super8 camera or similar? 

agfa-family.jpg

 

That model was my first camera ever when I was about 10 or 11 :)  

Fun to shoot with but not a great learning tool if you want to advance towards more serious filmmaking. you really need manual controls for that and the dslr would be the cheapest way to get them I think. 

 

Filmmaking is very expensive in general I'm afraid so you need some funds for your learning period. it will cost you much more than the most affordable dslr price but the short films don't need to be high budget, couple of hundred bucks per film would be fine. 

 

For the "BIG" short film, however, you will probably need lots of funds, especially if making lots of dialog scenes and shooting 35mm film. 

If most of the crew works for free and you can get some film, developing and gear deals, then something like 1000 -1500 dollars per minute of finished movie could be a rough ballpark depending on your shooting ratio etc. 

I don't want to be discouraging in any way, I just have done lots of similar sounding projects before and they have always been very expensive to make, especially if they contain lots of short dialog scenes in different locations which necessitates lots of company moves per day and lots of time wasted to setting up and wrapping gear. I don't know what exact type of movie you are planning though, how long it would be and how you would manage the logistics, rentals and other aspects of the production. 

 

as a side note, I spent close to 8000 euros last year for my own film tests alone, that was for 35mm 4perf and 16mm material. the cameras were not expensive but especially the post processing is, even with Super8 if you need to get the best out of the format  :unsure:

I'm meaning that you really need to calculate what you can afford and which projects you are able to finish with the available resources. And if you know ANY experienced indie filmmakers who can help you and who you can learn from, make sure to use those contacts to get you further


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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 08:46 AM

+1.

If you don't have money for a video-capable DLSR (my second-hand A58 cost £230), you don't have money for more than 5 or 10 minutes of Super-8 stock, process and transfer to video.

Film is great, but now there's no Kodachrome, I think I'd do the learning curve on video, then go to film.

Think about it. Last month I shot some instructionals on use of the Steenbeck, about 5 minutes in total, I think. A few retakes. Marginal cost, nothing. On Super-8 they would have cost me about £300.


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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 11:57 AM

Without manual control on your camera it makes things a little bit more difficult. I would take note of the f-stop when shooting so you know how the camera reacts. Given that you have no experience and no funds shooting on Super 8 may not be the best choice. And I am certainly one of the biggest Advocates of shooting on film. Dslrs are a dime a dozen. But I used one for two hundred bucks. Keep in mind everyone shoots that way and you will look like everyone else. It'll be harder for you to stand out. With the fully automatic camera you have I would get a roll of Tri-x black and white or two and shoot it and project it to see what happens.
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#8 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 10:44 PM

I would start with some B&W Tri-X reversal. If you have a projector, or happen to pick one up? Starting with projecting and splicing is the cheapest and most rewarding way to go. Working with negative requires a scan that costs extra, best to have some hands on experience first. Color reversal is coming out in the fall, if all goes well.
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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 02:50 PM

Anthony's right, starting with Tri-X B&W and purchasing a cheap Super 8 projector would be where to start. You'll get about 3.5 minutes on your first reel so either create a short or shoot random things and people just to see how it works.

 

You're going to spend about $40 to buy the film and processing. A projector might cost another $50? But that way you can see what it does and start to get a feel for how light sticks to film.

 

As far as doing a major complicated feature...baby steps. Keep in mind that you'd be in the over $6000 range to do a 90 minute feature in Super 8 with film, processing and transfer if you could possible keep it to a 3:1 ratio which would be nearly impossible, but hey, there's always a first time.

 

So if costs are an issue, consider saving for a DSLR and go that route. Or even better, have fun with your camera and explore it's use, maybe make a short 10 minute film, show it to someone with money and have them fund your big project.


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