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2nd June 2019
Written by: Jane Alexandra Foster
About as democratic as shooting on film gets…
Welcome to Straight 8, the global, one-super-8-cartridge-no-editing short film competition founded in London 1999. On the 26th May, The B Club attended the 2019 screening and party, at the funky, fabulous Regent Street Cinema in London. It has a great indie vibe, thanks to the wide range of films, old and new, indie, art house and mainstream it champions. It also was the FIRST CINEMA in London and dates from 1848.
So what better place to show that most retro format, Super 8mm film. So what’s Straight 8 about?
THE CHALLENGE: Make a short film on one cartridge of super 8mm cine film, no editing, no retakes, no grade, no post-production. The visuals are completed shot by shot in camera, shooting in story order, editing only with the pull of the camera’s trigger. Every shot becomes your film in a linear fashion. The film does not record sound, so you submit a separate, original soundtrack.
Straight 8 then processes the film at Cinelab, one of the world’s best film labs, here in London. They sync your soundtrack to the first frame of the picture and… the first time you see the film? With the other film makers and audience at one of 2 packed screenings.....so says the website for Straight 8.
The B Club’s reviewer’s take? It’s simply the best way for anyone to learn about how to make a film, express total creativity and originality, make shooting on film affordable, and take the mini trip of your film making life!
So why would entering Straight 8, and shooting on film be a great idea?
First, it forces you to work out the dramatic structure of your story before you shoot which is key to engaging any audience. It makes you rehearse and use good ol’ pre-planning otherwise you’ll not get your story. The one shot, one take, gets adrenaline flowing, which means better crew focus! (You will also get home for dinner on time and, no multi-take shots that go on for forever where you lose the will to live…).
"It’s great seeing the raw intention of the filmmaker without post production to polish out all the wrinkles"
At the party, Ed the founder, had this to say… "You have to have a very clear intention to start with, then even the imperfections don’t ruin the film – It’s great seeing the raw intention of the filmmaker without post production to polish out all the wrinkles".
Also in these days of ‘do it all’ yourself democratised film, there has been a subtle shift back to the roots of filmmaking, and when we asked Ed if he thought there was a new generation of film makers coming
up, who were less dazzled by technology and just wanted to get back to good storytelling, he said, "Hmm, maybe, the world is just a more fertile place for stories right now – There’s a lot not right in the world and I think it forces people into thinking about exploring different ways of doing things, like, how would I see or do something differently, what’s troubling me, or what could I meditate on that I’d like to change, then come up with a script for".
Always the home girl sister of super 16, the distant cousin of a glamorous 35mm, and an outright toddler compared to 6K on 70mm, Super 8mm is still a great way to tell a story, and learn how to be a film maker. Speak to Spielberg – He grew up with a Super 8 camera. Nuff said!