Mystery shot, first frame.
Mystery shot, first frame.
One of my favorite and labor intensive endeavors so far this year, was shooting a short film on 35mm film. Stefan kept throwing film at me for rides home (from a brick of TriX he got for free), and eventually I had saved up 20 rolls. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish, didn’t have much time between other projects and work to really figure it out, and a tank full of gas.
Peter volunteered to act and let me crash on his lazy boy up in Peterborough. I came with all my film labeled 1-20 (really glad I did this, helped a ton while developing), sound recording equipment (didn’t end up using), and a half assed script in my head. The hour and half-ish drive up North was nice and also a whole lot colder. The first few hours we spent driving around, sight seeing, and scouting spots. While taking a coffee break, I began to scour Ontario Abandoned Places and found this spot not too far off from us.
For the middle of nowhere, it was slightly off a busy road and I was worried parking the car on the property would be an issue for extended periods. I tried to hide it the best I could and hoped for the best.
It was really cold.
The main feature of the “dogs playing cards house” was…the huge mural of dogs playing cards in the living room. By complete luck I had taken a picture of Eddie and left my Holga on that frame, and snapped the mural as the next shot. Another funny coincidence was that another friend at work actually knew the people who abandoned the house, and who painted the mural in the living room.
It was a 2 story + attic + basement + barn + cottage + farm. Very deteriorated but stable. Not much vandalism but the pile of poop on in the 2nd floor hallway indicated squatters had been holding up there at some point (likely when it wasn’t -20). The color choices on the walls was really horrible.
Super bright un-matching colors all around. The desk and cabinets in the kitchen & bathroom were the only furniture left, besides whatever was frozen over in the flooded basement.
Oh, the bathroom had a fake plant.
The floors in here were probably the weakest and shifted around while walking on them.
I ended up using 15 of the 20 rolls. Since a large majority was shooting inside, I had a flash attached to the hot shoe on top which enabled me to film indoors. To ensure the flash went off for every shot, I instructed Pete to take all his movement slowly. I also made sure to adjust the aperture for shooting outside and inside.
We got really lucky, and the following day when we went to shoot the temperature went up almost 15 degrees. Bright sun and tshirt weather was really great, considering it had been negative digits and snowing prior.
Developing took two days. OCAD unfortunately doesn’t have deep developing tanks, so I was restricted to putting through 4 in 2 tanks each time around. I used d-76 for 6 1/2 minutes, 8 minute fix.
Scanning, was even more of a process. After I riffled through 18 pages of negatives - each scene would be layed out in photoshop, adjusted and processed, then each frame cut out and pasted into a ‘master’ frame (to ensure they were all the same size). This took roughly 1-2 weeks. Once I had all the frames cut out, I imported them into iMovie to generate movie clips, then imported those clips into Final Cut Express. I couldn’t figure out how to import the frames into Final Cut in a timely mannor. After I had everything sequenced, I began searching for all the audio that was to be dubbed over top. This was a really fun process and the first time I’ve attempted it. Freesound.org was really great and easy to use. I got everything from there. I’m still in the dark in how to properly export the finished movie, as the web version lost a ton of quality. Even the higher res one I exported still wasn’t what I was seeing in Final Cut. Still lots to learn, but this was a very rewarding project.