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Bolex Workshop

BolexLast weekend I went up to Fredericton for a two-day workshop at the NB Filmmakers’ Coop. It was the Bolex: 2 Day Filmmaking Boot Camp workshop taught by Chris Giles. It was a lot of fun and I learned things that I should have known a decade or two ago. The Bolex is a 16mm motion picture film camera that was first introduced in the 1920s and it is still being manufactured! The coolest part of most Bolex cameras is that they operate using a spring-powered motor, which means that you never have to worry about batteries. In the two days we went through all of the aspects of the camera and lenses, came up with films to shoot, and then loaded the camera and shot the films! The Bolex takes 100 foot rolls of film, which translate into 2 1/2 minutes or 4000 frames. We shot black & white reversal film, which means that there is no workprint and what you get back can be projected. The film is off to the lab now and so I don’t know if it came out or not, but that’s part of the excitement of shooting film. I shot a hybrid stop-motion walk around the block with Cathie LeBlanc as my partner and soon I’ll find out if the exposure and focus was sharp or not. The difference between shooting film and video is quite striking. I haven’t shot film in a long time and I’m always pleasantly surprised at the different perception of time when you shoot film. Shooting film makes you think more carefully about what you are rolling on as with the Bolex you only have 2 1/2 minutes total footage (if you shoot at 24 fps) and can’t run that long on a wind… so you have to have a good idea of what you will have before you shoot. But it frees you up in other ways as you start and then feel the rush of adrenaline as the film runs through the camera.

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