One Take Super 8 Event

The One Take Super 8 Event (OTS8) began in 2000, with 20 filmmakers each shooting a single reel of Super 8 film, which then premiered to an audience without the filmmakers seeing their work beforehand. All the films were shown as shot. No cuts. No splices. The popularity of this non-competitive festival has allowed it to return each year with more filmmakers participating. To date over 1000 films have been created for over 50 One Take Super 8 Events across North America!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Projector Review

Jason Booth, a reporter from Red River College's student paper The Projector (how appropriate), came to the One Take Super 8 Event in Winnipeg, and filed this story.

Life’s Great in Super 8

Jason Booth

On a cold rainy Sunday night on Thanksgiving weekend, film lovers came out in droves to catch the premiere of 28 Winnipeg short films in the One Take Super 8 Event, the finale of the third WNDX Festival of Film and Video Art.

The films were shot entirely on Super 8 cameras in one take and feature only in-camera editing. Never before seen by the public, festival organizers or even the filmmakers themselves, the shorts were a big hit. Scenes of downtown Winnipeg, the Exchange, prairie fields, trains, scampering dogs, music, dance, nudity, animation, Chinatown, rocket-ships, horses, birth, death, and dolls with questionable morality, delighted the crowd of over 200 which packed the theatre at the Garrick Centre.

“This is a great crowd,” said Cecilia Araneda, WNDX Festival organizer. “Every year we’ve been beyond capacity. Last year in the Film Group studio, people were packed in like sardines.” The Winnipeg Film Group is one of the event’s major supporters.

“I don’t need to see the work to assemble the reels. It’s more exciting because no one’s seen it,” said Alex Rogalski, the man behind the event. “Filmmakers are experiencing this with the audience. It’s all about the anticipation and nervous excitement.” Rogalski, a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival, started the event in Regina in 2000 as a way to get an audience for his friend’s films. Since then, he’s held over a dozen unique screenings in cities around North America. A $35 entry fee covers stock, processing and shipping. Filmmakers must be local. Beyond that, there are no other guidelines except time. “There’s no topic or theme, and we don’t seek out filmmakers,” says Rogalski as he prepares the first reel of the evening. “It ranges from personal home movies, to docs, to horror, to comedy. There could be hardcore porn up there in twenty minutes, we don’t know. We can’t prepare an audience for what they’ll see,” said Rogalski. “Even if it is the most offensive thing you’ve ever seen, it’s only on for 3:20,” he added. “And unlike a two hour feature, you get 28 films. You might see a couple you don’t like, but you might also see a few that will really stick with you.”

The One Take Super 8 Event came to Winnipeg in 2006 by way of Montreal. Rogalski was running the event there when he met WNDX Collective member Sol Nagler, who thought it would be a good fit for their festival in Winnipeg.

One of the festival’s more provocative films may have been among its most endearing. Established local filmmaker Deco Dawson presented an intimate home movie, which initially stunned the audience. The film shows his pregnant wife in a hospital bed, partially clothed, struggling through the pains of childbirth. The audience erupted with cheers and applause as the film ended with the first recorded images of Dawson’s newborn son in the hospital nursery.

Kevin Bacon, one of the event’s participants, was enthusiastic about the show, “Somehow these One Take films are always my best stuff. It might be because I know there’s only one shot at it, it won’t be perfect.” Bacon explains that his short was inspired by a Velvet Underground song, “I wanted to visualize the song. Apparently it worked, everyone seemed to like it.” This is my third entry and I’ve learned something every time,” Bacon said, offering some Zen-like advice for aspiring filmmakers, “Start a second after you should start. Stop a second before you should stop.” Bacon is already looking forward to his next entry, “For sure, I’ll be back every year.”

Not everyone was pleased with the lack of editing. There were a few comments from audience members that many of the films were underexposed or blurry. Although the crowd seemed pleased with his entry, filmmaker Joshua Stanton was disappointed. “The ending of my movie got cut off. Basically, our film ran out.” Stanton has participated in the event twice before, with better results. “The last two were perfect. But, you take the risk that you may not get exactly what you want,” he said.

“It was great. The birth film was great. This is raw directorial talent, unfettered by the editing process,” said Matthew Rankin, winner of the Special Jury Prize for his film Hydro-Lévesque, in the WNDX Festival’s New Prairie Cinema category. “Some of them really worked, but some of them were overly ambitious.”

“We really like that it’s bringing in filmmakers new to the craft,” said Tara Walker, Executive Director of On Screen Manitoba, the event’s sponsor. “The process isn’t that daunting and it’s cost effective, so it’s pure creative filmmaking.”

Dave Fort, a friend of one of the filmmakers, was pleased with the event. “It was very good,” said Fort, “It’s going through some growing pains, but that might be its beauty”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WNDX review

The 3rd Annual Winnnipeg edition of the One Take Super 8 Event has come and gone at WNDX and was another fantastic success. Closing out the festival, we had a great crowd show up at the Garrick Theatre to see 28 new films by Winnipeg filmmakers. This venue was once part of a multiplex built in the 70's, but closed as a movie house in the late nineties. It was nice to once again show celluloid in this 600 seat theatre. As their site describes the space -
"This 600-seat theatre has been fitted with a remarkable array of audio-visual equipment. A state of the art facility, Garrick One features a stage, twenty-foot-wide motorized screen, outstanding digital projection equipment, high tech sound and lights, and a touch screen control system with LED monitor built right into the podium. The touch screen technology puts control of your presentation right where it belongs -- at your fingertips. Garrick One is ideal for any type of presentation or performance."
Too funny, that with all that high tech equipment at our fingertips, we bring in a 30 year old projector.

I have to admit there was a lot of skepticism that my ELMO ST1200 wasn't up to the job of throwing the distance to the screen. We set up on the podium that separates the two tiers of the theatre and managed to convert the naysayers with a big bright image that really showed off the Ektachrome and 2 b/w reversal stocks used for the films. It's suprising what a 150W bulb in a dark room is capable of (not to underestimate the power of a good lens).
The night started with a bang, with Kevin Bacon (no, the other Kevin Bacon) creating a smart but fun narrative about a man shipping himself in a box to his love in Paris. Things don't turn out so sweet when he arrives. Leslie Supnet also raised the bar with a fantastic piece of cut out animation. A definite highlight and a true One Take came from Cam Woykin, in his 'Weekend' inspired tracking shot following a love story on a prairie highway. Stephane Oystryk pulled a similar page from the new wave playbook, with an intimate portrait of a jeune fille. The evening contained a few surprises, some of which got a little naughty, but in a quirky Winnipeg way. And what would a Winnipeg film fest be without a train film, provided by David Streit who created a great live soundtrack with vinyl, to support his black and white documentary of a cross Canada Train trip. Too many other great films to mention, showcasing the eruption of talent that makes Winnipeg an epicenter of independent cinema in Canada.
The night carried on after the screening in the lobby,where the "‘70’s retro décor creates a funky atmosphere for any event." And not to be remiss, I have to mention the late late party which contained some die hard filmmakers making a trip to a Winnipeg icon, The Salisbury House to continue to chat about the evenings hits, and not quite hits. Salisbury House and super 8 at 3 am, icons of another era finding a niche in this 21st century.

If you want to see more photos from the event (or want to add some) you can check out our Facebook group page. Thanks to Gerald Saul for the photos in this post.