I started to explore this technique in 2008, when I buried a roll of Kodak 7266 black and white reversal film stock in soil and left it for a period of one year. I tried to photograph images after washing and drying the film off but was unsuccessful in doing so. I did, however, create a film from this test.
The original purplish colour that exists in Kodak’s reversal film changed to a bluish colour and the texture of the film emulsion that was left on the base was very unique in itself. The film became “Experiment #1”. I decided to return to this process in 2011 and test it again but this time excavating the film earlier.
The following are the results.
Challenge: Bury Kodak 7222 black and white film in a leaf and soil compost and let sit for a period of one month then unearth the film, dry it out, roll it back onto its spool and prepare it for photography.
Mixture and Process: Place a layer of soil inside a “Bag to Earth” paper bag then add a layer of leaves on top of that. Unravel the film into the leaves, then place another layer of leaves on top of the film and finally another layer of soil. Place the filled paper bag inside a light tight container. Put the lid on top and place the light tight container outside in an area where it would receive a solid amount of sunlight. Leave the film for one month then dig it up.
Physical changes in emulsion after treatment: The film had begun to decompose and random areas of emulsion throughout the film were completely removed.
Results after Photography: During photography, I did not bracket my exposure index like I had with other techniques thinking that as the film decayed the strength of the silver halide crystals would also. I ended up exposing the film at 50 ISO. This exposure was way off and was over exposed by a number of stops; I should have exposed the film at its set ISO of 200. When processed and printed, I was left with very unique textures and the contrast and graininess was also heightened.
$100 Film Festival, Short film festival in Calgary, in March.
Antimatter. Festival of underground short film and video, in September in Victoria, BC.
The Atlantic Film Festival. In Halifax in September.
Baystreet Film Festival, Film festival in Thunder Bay, in September
Cabbagetown Short Film & Video Festival in September in Toronto.
Calgary International Film Festival in September, promoting emerging and established filmmakers.
Canadian Filmmakers Festival. All-Canadian festival in Toronto in March.
Cinefest Sudbury, in September.
Cinefranco Film Festival -- international Francophone cinema, April in Toronto.
Cinema de la Monde, World film festival in Montreal
Cinémental. Festival of French-speaking films in Winnipeg.
COMMFFEST Community Film Festival, bringing global communities together, in Toronto.
Dawson City International Short Film Festival, in Dawson City, Yukon in March.
Diaspora Film Festival in November, capturing Toronto's diversity in the work of filmmakers living outside their country of origin.
DOXA Documentary Film and Video Festival, celebrating community, dialogue and human resilience, at the Pacific
Edmonton International Film Festival in September.
Ekran Toronto Polish FIlm Festival in October.
Fairy Tales, Calgary's International Gay & Lesbian film festival.
Female Eye Film Festival, June in Toronto, including scripts.
Festival du nouveau cinéma, multidisciplinary showcase held in Montreal in October.
Global Visions Film Festival presents documentaries in Edmonton in November.
Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival in April.
Hamilton Film Festival, in November at the Staircase Cafe Theater.
Images Festival of Independent Film and Video, April in Toronto.
ImagineNative Film Festival -- world aboriginal films, October in Toronto.
Inside Out, a Gay and Lesbian Film Festival that takes place annually in Toronto.
Kingston Canadian Film Festival, all-Canadian films in March.
London Jewish Film Festival in November.
London Short Film Showcase in November.
Macedonian Film Festival in Toronto in October.
March 21st Human Rights Film Festival sponsored by the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties.
Montreal International Documentary Film Festival, Documentary film festval in November
Montreal World Film Festival in August. The site includes information on previous years.
Niagara Indie FilmFest at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario in April.
Nickel Independent Film and Video Festival in St.John's, Newfoundland in July.
Ottawa International Animation Festival, the largest and most prestigious in North America, held annually in September.
Planet in Focus, Toronto Environmental Film and Video Festival in September.
Queer City Cinema, biennial lesbian and gay festival in Regina.
Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival, Waterloo, Ontario in March.
ReelHeART Film Festival in Toronto -- they have art in their heart.
reelout queer film + video festival in Kingston in March.
Reel World Film Festival, celebrating diversity in film, video, and new media. April in Toronto.
REGARD Short Film Festival, held in Chicoutimi QC in March.
Regent Park Film Festival, November in Toronto, with a focus on Asia, Africa and First Nations.
Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois et francophone in Vancouver in February.
Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival, in November in Toronto. Features and shorts touching upon the facts and mythology of mental illness.
St. John's International Women's Film & Video Festival in Newfoundland in October.
Toronto After Dark Film Festival, horror and fantasy in October.
Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Toronto's International Queer West Film Fest sponsors several events in the west end.
Toronto Italian Film Festival in June, since 1999.
Toronto Jewish Film Festival -- features and shorts, in May.
Toronto Online Film Festival -- film, video, multimedia, in December.
Toronto Urban Film Festival, screening one-minute films throughout the Toronto Transit Commission.
Vancouver Asian Film Festival in November, for Asian independent filmmakers.
Vancouver International Film Festival in September. The web site is a "Virtual VIFF".
Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival in February, including mountain culture and enivironmental issues.
Vancouver Queer Film and Video Festival in August.
Victoria Film Festival, features and shorts in February.
Winnipeg Reel Pride Film Festival of gay and lesbian film in October.
WildSound Film Festival is held monthly in Toronto. Audience members provide feedback.
WNDX Festival of Film and Video Art, October in Winnpeg.
World of Comedy International Film Festival. Shorts and features, February in Toronto,
Worldwide Short Film Festival in June at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto.
Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival -- the Golden Sheaf Awards since 1950, in May.
Well it's been a while since my last blog entry and I have come to the conclusion that I probably do not have any followers to this space on my site and if I did they have probably come and gone. I'm not very good at this thing but it's not because I am not interested in talking about film but it's more that I am more interested in making films. But instead of ending my blog I'm going to try and write one new entry per week.
I have been very busy the last few months creating my first 35mm film My Last Words. Production has been going well and I am enjoying the process. I have been working with filmmaking techniques and styles that I have not used in the past. I have built a miniature set of a Drive-in Theatre and have completed the animation for this section of the film. It's always interesting to see animation in motion, to witness unanimated items coming to life and dancing around the screen. I have also completed my first cut-out animation, this was a learning experience. I have used an Oxberry animation camera in the past but never for a traditional style of animation. I built the multi-layered glass stand that you see in this photo to work with the Oxberry camera so that I could create more depth to my scene. I love designing and building gear to create my films. I spent a day at a logging camp filming loggers cutting and haling away their fallen trees. I shot with the 35mm Arri 2C camera, its a nice camera, sounds like a boat motor though:). I will be in production for another two months and then hope to be ready to begin post production by early spring. I have been handprocessing all the film as I shoot it so I have had the opportunity to see the footage as I film it. It's been a long process creating this film and I am not even half way completed but that's just fine for me because I enjoy the process more then the final product.
To my readers, if I still have some, please always feel free to ask me questions, questions are good, they make me think.
I have been editing some 16mm footage the last couple weeks that I had experimented with using baking soda. With many of my experimentations I manipulate raw 16mm film stock prior to photographing images; I used this same approach with the baking soda. I placed a ¼ cup of baking soda in a large punch bowl and added 16 cups of warm water. The punch bowl was wrapped in black duct tape to prevent any light from entering into the bowl once the lid was placed on top. Working in complete darkness I unravelled 100’ of Kodak 7222 16mm black and white film and placed it into the mixture of warm water and baking soda. I placed the lid on the bowl and put it into a refrigerator. I let the film set in the fridge for 8 hours. Afterwards I took the bowl out of the fridge and back into the dark room and slowly took the film out of the mixture. I hung the film up to dry. You need to let the film completely dry or you risk damaging your camera. On average it takes approximately 4 to 6 hours for the emulsion on the film to completely dry out. After drying I ravel the film back onto a daylight spool and place it back into its canister. I use a Kodak K100 16mm camera to shoot any film tests with that has had the film tempered with. I find this camera is a solid piece of equipment and the pressure plate system is simple enough so that the manipulated film stock does not jam up in the camera.
Having completed previous tests with the baking soda I have learnt that changing the ISO of the film stock is not necessary with this experiment. With many of my tests where I have manipulated the film stock I find I need to compensate my exposure and change the given ISO to match that of a slower speed film stock, these compensations can range from 100 ISO to 12 ISO depending on the experiment. Generally I use Kodak 7222 black and white 16mm film stock for all my experiments. Kodak 7222 is rated at 250 ISO when filming under daylight. However with the baking soda tests that I have completed I have learnt that no matter what ISO I use to expose the film stock I generally get the same effect each time. I have found that the baking soda stains the film stock and when processed it leaves the negative in a condition that when a print is created from this negative the image is overexposed by a number of stops. No matter how the film is exposed this overexposure always occurs. The baking soda also crystalizes on the film stock leaving behind very interesting imprints in the emulsion. These imprints resemble “frost on a car windshield in the winter” they also resemble “fungus marks”. When printed these imprints create very interesting textures on the film. You are left with photographed images that appear to have disintegrated over a number of years; however, all of this has been created over a couple days. I will be releasing a new 16mm film in a matter of days that reveals results from these tests along with over experiments that I have been working on over the past year. I will be presenting this film for the first time in Montreal in October, once a date has been set I will post it here on my site.
Production has begun on my latest film My Last Words. I have been very busy the last two weeks with writing out my Will onto 35mm film stock. On Thursday I shot part of the film’s first scene and it went very well and I will be processing the film in the next day or so. I am excited to see this footage. I love the process of starting a new film, each film is like a new part of my life unfolding. I will be in production for a few months, and I hope to begin post-production by the end of this coming summer. I will be posting updates throughout the process so if you are curious to know how things are going please check back.
My Last Words takes an experimental look at the process of writing a last will and testament. The film suggests that physical materials cannot be the reason to write a Will. When I first began researching this project I came across a story about a farmer living in Saskatchewan. The farmer had been working on his tractor in a field when the tractor dropped off its jack and fell on the man. The man laid there seriously injured and bleeding; he knew that if he was not found soon he would die. The man had yet to write a Will so he grabbed a knife and scratched into the tractor’s fender his final wishes. “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife”. This story really made me think about the process of writing a Will and how personalizing the process may help the people who you love to cope with your death. In today’s society our materials have become the center of our lives. Our valuables seem to be what makes us who we are and set us apart from others. However, it is our physical life on this planet that needs to be of most value and each individual life is as important as the next. Why do we feel we need to leave behind a list of how to divide up our stuff? The materials we own and who gets them should not be a priority to the writer of the Will or the family and friends who will be left behind. I would like to believe that when I die my children will be concerned with the fact that I will no longer be at their side. I would be disappointed to know that my children, who I have raised to love and care about others, are concerned about who gets my film cameras and who gets my money. How we value our life on this planet needs to be more than what we have collected during our time here. I need to believe that my loved ones will cherish the fact that my Will does more than divvy out materials but expresses my thoughts on my life and how it was affected by them during our time together.
I have been processing my own black and white film stock for about 4 years now and I just love the process. I process Super 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film and I use two methods: in a bucket and with a G3 Morse processing tank. I prefer the Morse tank just because it is a cleaner process and results can be amazing. In the tank you have two film spools that the film takes up on and to process the film you just roll the film back and forth from spool to spool. I use Kodak D19 developer and I find that this developer is good for all types of b&w film stocks, negative, reversal, print and sound stocks. I use the same processing times for all stocks as well, with 100’ of film I process the film in the developer for 5 minutes with 6 passes in the tank. Processing with the tank does take longer but if you want to have a nice clean negative to work with then this is the best way to process your film. I have been able to control the process so well that my home processing is very close to that of a professional lab. I have processed film for other film artists as well and they have been very happy with my results. I have processed and created black and white 16mm film prints for local film wedding company First Kiss Films. If you enjoy watching film and want to see some very beautiful wedding films shot on film then check out their website www.firstkissfilms.com. If you enjoy making films yourself and have yet to process some film then I recommend doing so, it’s an experience you will not forget. Nothing beats looking at your footage for the first time after you have processed it yourself.
For the last five days I have been spending my time at The Independent Filmmakers Co-operative of Ottawa teaching 6 young boys how to create films using Super 8mm film. I have always had a passion for teaching film production, how to use equipment, create stories and to explore the process, teaching kids is the most rewarding. This entire week I have been teaching them about the filmmaking process but every day they reminded me, how fun the process can be. This is the third time I have taught this week-long class at IFCO and am always impressed with how well these kids pick up on the process and how much they enjoy it. But what I am more impressed with is how well they accept their own errors and I am overwhelmed with how excited they become when they see their film rushes for the first time, they laugh and cheer at their favourite shots and carry on like they have created the best film ever, and they have. As artists we sometimes get too caught up on the perfection of being artists that have constant success, we forget to just enjoy the moment and just create, let the art come out of us and not try to force the art out of us. I’d like to believe I will never forget this but I know this is not possible so having someone remind me once and awhile is not a bad thing. We all need support at some point.
For the last two days I have been in seclusion working on my film Against the Grain. I’ve been locked behind closed doors at Main Film in Montreal, sitting in a darken room with a JK Optical printer in front of me. The JK printer is a way to duplicate film footage, Super 8mm or 16mm film footage can be re-photographed onto raw 16mm film stock in a Bolex camera. For example: lets say you have some old Super 8mm footage of your parents at Woodstock and you want to use this footage in your new 16mm film. The JK printer can be used to do this. Now I have spent many long days working with the JK printer, my films Camera Paint and Experiment # 1 were both created using the system. I have come to develop a love hate relationship with the printer, which I am sure any filmmaker who has used one will tell you the same thing. The reasons for loving it are simple: With the JK printer you are a solo filmmaker, you are working at your own stride. For me it’s a time to be intimate with my film and get to know each individual frame of film. The sound of the JK printer takes me back to my youth and working at a factory in Perth, Ontario, with its rhythmic sound that resembles a machine press pounding at metal. The projector, the conveyor belt transporting each photographed image through the projector gate: rrrrrr clunk, rrrrrr clunk, rrrrrr clunk, and the camera, the press pounding out a new image onto the raw film stock: chic chic, chic chic, chic chic. But like the machine I used in that factory so many years ago it sometimes bites back and this is where I start to hate the JK printer. Sometimes it chews up your precious footage or the film skips through the projector gate causing you to go back to start and begin the process all over again. Unlike my factory job, if it were not for the love of the printer I would have abandoned it a long time ago. The JK printer can be used to create some beautiful imagery and for an experimental filmmaker it can be a tool that can turn a film into an exciting adventure.
Superimpositions with Bolex
Remember to set the footage counter and frame counters to 0 after you load film.
Set up your first shot. Take light reading of shot.
Make note of where footage counter and frame counters are before you film your first shot.
Remember to underexpose each shot by one full stop.
Shoot your first shot.
After filming first shot make note of the frame counter and where it is at the end of first shot. Wind camera motor back up.
Put lens cap on lens.
Disengage motor/spring to "0" position at same time lock run motor switch to "M" position.
Use small rewind handle to rewind film back until the frame counter is back to the initial position it was before you shot your first shot. Rewind the film in the direction arrow points on the small dial.
After film is rewound back to start point set the run switch back to "Stop" position.
Re-engage Motor/Spring back to "Mot" position.
Take lens cap off lens
Set up second shot and take light reading.
Remember to once again underexpose shot by one full stop.
Shoot second shot until frame counter gets to the point of where the first shot ended.