It is a stunning film that I saw for the first time in Leeds (at olsen) and just couldn't shake out of my being. It struck the strongest chord in me, and I recently saw it again at Oberhausen Short Film Festival, where Gunvor Nelson herself was in attendance. Wonderful, wonderful filmmaker, and a phenomenal woman. I'm going to research her work for my research MA in synaesthesia and film. Her films have been badly overlooked in the avant-garde circle, for many reasons, but two DVDs of her work coming out soon (one from re:voir and one from Film Form I think) and HOPEFULLY newly struck 16mm (and maybe 35mm?) film prints will enable her incredible "personal films" to be circulated more widely and enjoyed by more and more folk. She has pretty strict stipulations about how her films should be screened - in ABSOLUTE darkness (many film screenings aren't truly dark if you think about it! exit signs, lights on the stairs, light leaks, people coming in and out etc.) and with specific instructions. I really want to organise a screening of her films this year - I'll try! She is a MASSIVE inspiration to me. Does something physical to me just thinking about her films, like a feeling of huge waves of freshness in the sea on a sunny day, or the explosion of a thunder and lightning storm that clears the air so you can breathe again.
I really recommend hand-processing your films. Commercial labs are expensive, and mean that you can't intervene in the process to get effects you want or try things out. The exception to this are artist-run film labs, which I wholeheartedly love and support!
Places like L'Abominable in Paris, MIRE in Nantes, MTK in Grenoble, no.w.here lab in London, Sector 16 in Hannover, LaborBerlin in ... er... Berlin (!), WORM Filmwerkplaats in Rotterdam, LABA in Athens, Super 8 Picnic in a Hand in Vilnius. At the moment Cherry Kino is based at East Street Arts in Leeds and is trying to make a film lab! EXP24 started it up as a resource (which I was part of), but has since kind of disbanded as we've all gone on to do our own projects etc. so Cherry Kino is going to keep it running and build it up. There's film processing capacity, chemicals to use, films for sale, Super 8 and 16mm cameras to borrow, projectors, and a big 6-plate Steenbeck editing table for 16mm film. There's also a library of useful resources, and various booklets on different processing/toning techniques. Watch this space, coz the lab will be opened up to the public for one day a month starting on 13th August (and on the 2nd Friday of every month thereafter), so people can use the resources to make films!
Artist-run film labs are absolutely awesome resources where artists/filmmakers use the equipment themselves, and work on every stage of their film. It's a move away from the "service" idea of a film lab (which can sometimes be useful, sure), to a resource where the filmmaker's agency is paramount. With a lot of personal "wondermental" films, they are often made by either one person or a small group, not like big budget films, and so the roles don't tend to be neatly separated into "director" "producer" "editor" etc. I don't know what defines an "artist" as separate to a "filmmaker", but I guess I mean films made with artistry in mind, not commerce or industry.
Anyhow... process your own films! Once I've got the website up and running I can put resources on it to show you how to do it. Depending on how many different film stocks you use, it can be a little perplexing to get your head around the different processes, but start simply by getting to grips with one film stock, learn its process, and the rest will follow.
Strangely enough, with Super 8, processing colour reversal film (this means film that is projectable when it's done - not a colour neg) is easier than processing b/w reversal film! You just need to heat the chemistry up to roundabout the right temperature. Professional labs would have you believe that it is an absolutely exact science, but this is more if you're after an absolutely pristinely correct image. My guess is, if you're using Super 8, you like it for its quirks, its grain, its dream-like beauty, and all of these things can be enhanced by the freedom which hand processing gives you. Don't be put off by things that tell you "you MUST have the temperature to this precise degree" or "you MUST process 64T in E6 chemistry" (try C41, like I suggest in my earlier post, for example). There are some hard and fasts, for sure, but the process of image making is way more open than we are told by "professionals"! And it is the exploration of these beautiful, solarised vistas that will help you find some truly magical visions.
I like to think of developing film as a "revelation" - the latin-derived term for film developer is (in french) "revelateur", meaning "revealer" - I like it better than "developer" or "processor". Somehow, this term suggests the film itself has some agency, and can surprise you, and that the chemicals don't just act on the film in a predetermined way but they are like an aid to revealing something magical which lies not just in the chemicals and not just in the film, but in the synergy that comes from their combination with your own vision, pleasurable union and circumstance. Even though I've never given birth, processing film is a bit like that! You conceive the film, you "labour" (ie the term "lab" work), and you "reveal" it when it's born. And it's part of you, but has an essence that comes from the synergy of - chemicals, material (film), vision, pleasurable union and circumstance!
Ah, that was quite a long post!
I'm so utterly thrilled by film, it speaks to me so strongly. I really like the idea that film isn't a "language". That term just limits it. Nor is it a "visual medium" but it is a "temporal" one. Film is rooted in time. And rhythms. I am in love with it!
Kodachrome 40 (aka K40) - Dwayne's photo http://www.dwaynesphoto.com/ is the only place in the world that still offers colour processing of this colour movie stock, the epitome of saturated "home movie" colours. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. Filmmakers the world over were distraught when Kodak announced its discontinuation in 2005. And... Dwayne's have announced that they will cease processing at the end of December 2010! Oh no! That gives you only another 6 months or so to use up and send off all your old K40 stocks - check your freezers to see if any is lurking there! Or buy some online on ebay now and shoot shoot shoot it!! It's the film stock of choice for Nathaniel Dorsky's mesmerising works. What will we do after December?...
Ektachrome 64T - The colour Super 8 stock that wasn't quite as saturated as K40 but does the job well. And it's really easy to hand-process in E6 chemicals, or cross-process in C-41! Kodak are discontinuing this too.... It's what Cherry Kino has always used in Super 8 workshops.
Ektachrome 100D - Kodak are bringing this out to replace 64T. You've been able to get it as 16mm for a long while, but now you'll be able to buy Super 8 cartridges of it. Apparently it has stronger colour saturation than 64T and can still be processed in the E6 process. Good news! But I've bought a few rolls of 64T too, just for old time's sake.... And the 100D will be harder to hand-expose, coz it's a faster film...
Plus X - this is a really really nice b/w stock that works great in daylight, it's 100 ASA. Seriously lovely, and Kodak are discontinuing it, both as Super 8, 16mm and 35mm! Big mistake.
Tri X - a fast (200 ASA) b/w film stock good for "night sports photography" (!?) and night time shooting. This will now be the only b/w stock available on Super 8. A real shame.
My advice? Stock up on Plus X while you can, even the older stuff you can get, stick it in the freezer, and save it for a rainy (or sunny!) day! You can also develop K40 as b/w - there's an old film with David Niven in it, by Powell and Pressburger, called "A Matter of Life and Death", and the scenes where they're in heaven is K40 processed as b/w! Not bad. Google it. If you do this, though, you need to overexpose the film by about a stop, and also increase the developing times (both developer and redeveloper) to between 12-14 mins.
Speaking of cross-processing, try processing an Ektachrome film in C41 chemistry - you get colours that really pop, it's unpredictable (therefore exciting!), and can be totally awesome.
Here are some of the comments Cherry Kino got from people immersed in the world of experimental film. Check out their websites too, they are all doing brilliant things, more power to them! Doubtless you'll be hearing more about these organisations and artists - MTK, Lightcone, Alex MacKenzie - in the future and on the website when I get it up and running!
"The experimental film community is being exposed to some of the most exciting explorations occurring within film culture that also happen to intersect with the media and fine arts. The exposure generated by Cherry Kino is crucial in developing new audiences for the many discreet experimental film communities currently operating around the UK, and internationally." - Etienne Caire, Filmmaker and Director of Atelier MTK, an artist-run film lab in Grenoble - here's a website of LaFoxe, another of Etienne's projects http://www.mtk.ecrandamour.org/?s=english
"I would like here to give you my full support regarding your projects for Cherry Kino. The work you have been doing for Leeds International Film Festival for a few years now truly contributes to the transmission of experimental cinema culture in England and to let British audiences discover the diversity of experimental filmmaking. I remember that 25 years ago, when Light Cone and our regular screenings called Scratch were just created, barely anyone in Paris knew about this practice. Today - and I believe Light Cone contributed massively to this - it is possible to see experimental films almost every day, and it is not rare to receive French filmmakers’ testimonies explaining how Scratch was, and still is, important to them, and above all stimulating for their work. As a result, I think it’s really important to organize regular screenings of experimental film in the UK in other cities than London that pretty much concentrates all cultural activities. It would help building a community because people then can count on it happening each month. Inviting filmmakers to present their work, inviting guest curators for “carte blanche”, or organising film lab workshops for young artists, is crucial too...All my best & good luck for the future of Cherry Kino!" - Emmanuel Lefrant, Artist Filmmaker, and Director of Lightcone http://www.lightcone.org/
"I recently attended the Cherry Kino section of the Leeds International Film Festival, invited by programmer Martha Jurksaitis to present my expanded cinema piece “The Wooden Lightbox: A Secret Art of Seeing”, as well as a workshop on creating Rayograms on 16mm film. I can’t say enough good things about how vital, inspiring and crucial Cherry Kino is. The energy and support around the work and the extremely high quality and commitment of the programming was a revelation...and, speaking personally, my work needs venues, audiences and zones of immersion and dialogue precisely like the ones that Cherry Kino creates. I strongly urge you to support this project!" - Alex MacKenzie, Artist Filmmaker, Founder of the Blinding Light Cinema and the Vancouver Underground Film Festival http://www.alexmackenzie.ca/
Cherry Kino is a maker, lover and shower of wondermental film in Leeds and Bradford, and I've got some plans for this year that I am really truly tickled inside about, fills me with pleasure! In July there will be a 16mm flat-printing and rayogram workshop on b/w print film, done without a camera and using a red safelight, so you can actually see what you're doing in the dark room! Then I'll show people a few techniques using a really ace set of film tinters and toners, you can get some magical images.
Then in August there will be a screening of wondermental film, in September Cherry Kino will host the San Francisco based filmmaker Paul Clipson http://vimeo.com/videos/search:paul%20clipson to show his incredible films, and in October, we'll witness the splendid films and expanded cinema performances of Takahiko Iimura! http://www.takaiimura.com/ Then in November the Cherry Kino Festival will take place as part of Leeds International Film Festival http://www.leedsfilm.com/ So I'm feeling fully inspired and up for it! This really is what I love doing (as well as growing fruit and veg, making films, visiting film festivals, swimming, concocting homemade potions with essential oils and herbs, natural healing, and experimenting with raw vegan food!). I'm trying to build a website at the moment, so bear with me a bit for that (!) and meanwhile this blog will be my way of expression.
I'll be announcing the workshop dates and info soon - I think there will be space for between 6 and 8 people on it - and if you need to get in touch with me you can email me at email@example.com
http://vimeo.com/9268166 - links to MetalkinG performing El Kino Up Your Ears (not at Bradford - I was way too immersed to film it!)
When Cherry Kino welcomed MetalkinG to Bradford in April earlier this year they put on a thoroughly mind-blowing show at the Bradford Playhouse, and got me thinking a lot about collective spectatorship, and embodied spectatorship. I remember my foot was pounding a drum beat with the spectacle, as Riojim (Etienne Caire) did magnificent things with his film and projector and Richarles Bronson played noise on old electronics junks to palpably mesmeric effect. Seriously, there was a moment when a scene from "The Shining", transferred as it was to b/w 16mm film and enhanced by the manual insertion of an anamorphic lens in front, became obliteratingly present!
I stupidly didn't take any photos of the night - which also featured awesome instrumental noise from the Brass Archivist, whose work I always love, and the vocal manipulations he collected, as well as music from the very talented Rinkadon (both accompanied by Super 8 projections/performance) - so I'm just going to include a still image here from part of the film - the colours are insane. It's not digitally enhanced or touched in any way, it's simply a 16mm frame from a film Riojim (Etienne) made at his Grenoble-based artist-run film lab, MTK. I love those two - they really have a strong feeling for what they're doing, and serious artistry and skill. To be honest, I felt pretty poor in comparison, but instead of feeling bad about it I see it as an honour I was there with them, and something to totally aspire to! We had a joke that we'd have a "projector duel" the next time we meet, with me having learnt to handle my machine with a finesse worthy of the Wild West's best gunslinger... hmmm...! They did lug a really heavy EIKI xenon 16mm projector all the way to England for me...
Also a big thankyou to Bradford Playhouse for providing the venue and lots of good cheer - that venue is one of my favourite places to be in Yorkshire, and now the Love Apple has closed down (noooo!), I will be going even more! I totally enjoyed the whole night, and I think others did too! Oh yes, and a big thankyou to Chris, who invited us all back to his HUGE house near Lister Park for an impromptu after party! That was really ace of you. Ok, I'm signing off now - getting overexcited about the fact I now have a blog! It's ten past three in the morning and I've still got wellies on...(humanely re-locating the slugs from my allotment earlier!).