Circle 8: International Forum of Super-8 Catalog

Publication Type:

Book

Authors:

Creston,Bill

Source:

Exit Art, NY, NY (1988)

Keywords:

people-text
Full Text: 

In the late '60's I decided to make films.  I had been a painter, showing on 10th St. and Madison Ave., for twenty years and found myself becoming restless.  I owned an 8mm Brownie Hawkeye camera and saw no reason why I couldn't make a feature film.  But since I felt I needed sound, the problems soon became insurmountable.  After a discouraging attempt to get technical information from filmmakers that I knew, confusion and apathy set in: I continued to paint. Then came a sign from Heaven: SONY.

 I was walking by a Sony showroom and on display was the first portable Black and White CV open reel video camera and deck.  This was the answer!  I could make talkies! I had a job at the time as an art teacher in The Bronx and was able to get a bank loan, bought the equipment and became a "Video Pioneer!"  For the next seven years I was involved in the beginning of experimental video, particularly in its intimate and real time aspects.  I made tapes like CRIPPLE and  CRACKS, using single characters and sound-overs, and like KELSEY, which was screened at the First Documentary Festival of Global Village, and from 1971 to 1975 I kept what seems to have been the world's first Video Journal.  Shalom Gorowitz wrote in 1973, that these tapes "celebrate the hallucinatory quality of everyday life". 

Nevertheless, my desire to make films had not been satisfied.  Video was not film. I saw film as a faster-paced, larger,  more conceptually complex medium, and I could work in color. After returning from Europe in 1975 with over 20 hours of videotape, I bought my first S-8 sound equipment. 

My first film, OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK. 24 HOURS A DAY, was a Bicentennial piece.  I knew what I wanted to do; I just had to find a way to do it. Leaving a trail of bad prints and choppy sound, I finally found my way to At Lindo's rental studio in Brooklyn, where I learned the secrets of double system sound editing with fullcoat and flatbed tables.  Soon after, I was able to buy some used equipment: a 2-ptate vertical editing bench, and an ancient fullcoat recorder and equalizer.  I was in business!  And, incredibly enough, this equipment is still in working order twelve films and ten years later. LEONARD MOLTZ, SEWING MACHINE, 1977, was similar to OPEN 7 DAYS in that it mixed scripted scenes with footage from New York City and the mid-west.  OLA, was a film about my first child's birth.  But RUNNER, 1981 was an important pivotal film.  After months of editing several years of collected footage and the usual "found" sounds on from various records and tapes, I was dissatisfied and uneasy.  I knew I had to create my own sounds.  With a borrowed, primitive, keyboard synthesizer, I slowly reconstructed my soundtrack.  First I had to learn the sythesizer and then I had to start composing and mixing.  My early aborted musical training surfaced.  After another year and a half I had my film.

I SAW WHERE YOU WAS LAST NIGHT, 1984, was a logical progression from RUNNER (and from some other works that are still in progress from that time).  Words, especially statements, are beginning to play a larger part in my films and I find myself writing more and working more exclusively with scripts.  Until this time, I had been an observer, recorder and collector.  With the the later films I alter, invent and create, although ideas are still based on absurdities really encountered or overheard, or imagined from witnessing gestures too distant to hear. PEANUT BUTTER, 1985, and YOU EVER HEAR OF WYATT EARP?, 1987, are the most current results of these new experiments.  Two new scripts are ready for production this year.  Since I've been dealing with characters in each of these films, I find myself cast more in the role of Director than of Collagist, although these latest films are still sequences of short pieces, and they still range from 10-18 minutes each. If one accepts its limitations, S-8 filmmaking is a marvelous medium for artists. It is cheap and most of the processes can be handled alone. What I originally found fascinating about it and before that, video, was its easy access.  You could bring your film to the "corner drug store" and pick it up a few days later.  Little by little and piece by piece, you could put together a film.  Since the remarkable success of video, the home S-8 market has just about been eliminated and with it the easy access for artists.  Equipment and film stock are still available but services are getting harder to find.  I decided a few years ago to offer S-8 sound post production services commercially and I find myself the only one in New York.  Work comes in from New England, the South, Latin America and all over.  Much S-8 gets transferred to video.  I still prefer the large projected, image and have noticed a bit of a S-8 Renaissance in the last year or two.  It is certainly the only film gauge where a single artist can have total control of all aspects of the work.