19 June 2015

48HFP SLC 2015 - 8mm - and a switch PDQ

It has been a severely busy week. I am now just sitting down and going through emails, FB posts, and blogs that I follow... Aside from work and all it's craziness, we shot a fun short film this weekend. The 48HFP came and went, and we premiered on Tuesday, June 16th. It went well, and I was inspired by some of the films shown. We drew “romance” and the name of our film is “The Gee Stop”… I’ll post it as soon as we get the all-clear. Big thank you to Rich Bonaduce, Valeri Merrell, Hailey Nebeker, Geoff Richards, and Albert Huerta! We had a blast!

Film studies goes on- I finally managed to order 4 rolls of Fomopan B&W Regular 8mm film. I should get it on Monday. I plan on practicing on my trusty little Revere 88… the process is similar to how I have to load and unload 16mm spools. I also picked up a really clean Super 8/Regular 8 projector from the thrift store for $20. It runs great and now I’ll be able to watch my films (even though the super 8 is all negative, I can still shoot it on camera and invert the colors on the computer).

I want to shoot a mini-doc about how to shoot with Regular 8mm using the Revere 88. I think showing examples of the film in action is a good way to really get some viewer momentum to my endeavors.

I have been planning on retiring Lost Skies… it’s ran its course and it’s served me well. I’ll keep the domain but everything is going to my new brand. I plan to launch the new site/brand at the end of the summer.

11 June 2015

Countdown to the 48

Another Thrift Store Find: $5 Kodak Brownie!

It's been a long time since I've done the 48 Hour Film Project. Five years, as a matter of fact. I'm excited for it- nice to look forward to something and know I'll have a finished short at the end of this weekend. It's hard though- a true marathon and a lot of work. I made sure I did some house chores today when I got home from work because tomorrow I'm pretty much out.

I know we're ready. We have a small team- six people. Three AWESOME actors and equally AWESOME crew. We have equipment. We have some great, unique locations, and we have heart.

So- I will definitely post the short after it premieres on Tuesday night at Broadway Cinemas in downtown Salt Lake at 7pm!

I found another great thrift store find- a Kodak 8mm Brownie! It was only $5. It runs great, just needed a cleaning. The view finder is cracked so I'm a little worried about it breaking, but other than that it's in great condition. It feels like it's an aluminum sardine can- it's much lighter than my Reveres. It only shoots at 16 fps. If anything, it was a rescue. I couldn't bear leaving this little guy in the store. In any case, I'm developing one heck of a camera collection!

B&H Photo Video has their Fomapan Regular 8mm film back in stock. I'm waiting until next payday to get a worth while shipment. I think it will be enough to shoot a short short- and use the analog tape recorder for sound. All out old school!

I also discovered a place that has discontinued 16mm film stock for cheap! I'm definitely going to use my bonus money to buy some, perhaps enough for a feature film.


07 June 2015

Bell & Howell 240 EE (Electric Eye) 16mm Movie Camera

I’ve been looking at videos of footage captured by the Bell & Howell 240 16mm camera… and I am really excited to start using it for my cyberpunk short.

Here’s some of the better examples of BH240 footage that I could find:



I’ll be the first to say that great footage comes mostly from the cinematographer’s eye and camera skill. Still, Bell and Howell, which made the 240 for the amateur/hobbyist market back in the 50’s, created a solid piece of work.

This camera is Regular 16mm—not Super 16. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio and is noisy as hell while shooting film; don’t expect to get usable location sound while running this bad boy. It takes about 50 cranks on the wind-up motor to run the camera about 52 seconds at 24fps. It only carries 100ft spools, which gives you about 2m43s of film capture. Its heavy- it easily weighs more than 5 lbs. Personally I think the weight helps stabilize it. Reference sound can still be captured for ADR later (a common practice in Hollywood), and I rarely shoot takes longer than 30 seconds, anyway.

I love the fact that it’s a wind-up camera. No need for batteries to run the motor… ever! The permanent lens is the only thing that bothers me, but constraints add to creativity. Plus, there are telephoto and wide-angle lenses that were made specifically for the 240EE.

My particular camera is the “Electric Eye” model—which seem to pop up on internet auctions more frequently as opposed to the non-EE  removable lens models. It was made with a large light sensor that can automatically control the aperture. The two 4.5v mercury batteries that used to power this bad boy aren’t made anymore, though two alkaline batteries can be ordered but are a little expensive- cheapest around $9/battery (Exell A21PX 4.5V Alkaline Battery). That would be fine and dandy, but the settings only allow up to a 50 ASA speed film, which is the slowest common speed film you can find nowadays. That’s great for daytime outdoor shooting, but sticking to manual for faster speed film in low-light situations would not only prudent, but necessary. Luckily the batteries aren't required to run this camera- it's fully capable of being set manually. Frankly, had I had the money and found a nice non-EE model, I would have taken it over this for the simple fact of having the ability to swap out the c-mount lenses. I'm keeping my eyes open but it probably won't happen for a while.

I'm looking forward to shooting with my 240EE as soon as I can get the cyberpunk short written and produced. I'm going to push it's lowlight capability to the limit. More to come!



06 June 2015

Crazy Week Ahead!


My work is sending me and my friend Rich Bonaduce to Park City for two days to videotape a number of workshops, interviews, and b-roll... and photography... and whatever they need, really. Then we will be working with some incredible actors next weekend for the 48 Hour Film Project in Salt Lake City. I haven't done one for five years, so this will be interesting. The last time was with my friend Todd McGowan and we shot "97 Days".]


97 Days from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

I am saving up some money to buy some film stock. I have Regular 8, Super 8, and 16mm cameras... I'm waiting for the Fomopan 2x8mm stock to come into BHphotovideo- they've been waiting for some for a while. I'm also planning on getting some Kodak Vision 3 50D, 200T, and 500T Super 8 film, and some Kodak Tri-X 16mm film. I'm waiting for my bonus so I can buy directly from Kodak- and buy enough to make the shipping worth it—that means at least a case ($600).

The Cyberpunk Short seems to be evolving in my head a little... but I've been more in bookworm mode lately trying to figure out all this film stuff.

Upward and onward!

01 June 2015

So far, so good.

I got the Bell & Howell 240ee in the mail today. This camera is nearly immaculate- it looks like it was hardly used. It purrs very nicely, and the glass looks very clean. The case is near mint as well.

Now I need to buy some film to test it. The frustrating part- I wish there was someplace local that I could buy 16mm film from. I'll probably order from BHphotovideo first, than order directly from Kodak later.

Summer came blazing in this year- after a very wet spring it's hard to get used to the warm weather.
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