What you do? Tell us a little about yourself….
I’m a film director, editor, and writer. I’ve done shorts, behind-the-scenes documentaries for DVDs/online, and have recently branched out into music videos while in postproduction on my first feature-length documentary, entitled “What is Scary?”
How long have you been a Lomographer for?
Technically I guess I’ve always been one, with the passion for analog photography. I grew up shooting with a used Canon AE-1, which my father shot with as well. Having no access to a darkroom or any image manipulation techniques growing up made me do what I could to either 1) get it right ‘the first time’ in camera, and if not, 2) embrace any mistakes or imperfections.
I only discovered Lomography last September, when a friend of a friend was DJing at a Blue Hour at the store. I was fascinated by what I saw, and a woman I met there enthusiastically showed me what all the cameras were capable of. While I couldn’t pick a camera up at the time, I was hooked, and very happy to see a community embracing what I loved so much about shooting film.
What Lomography cameras do you have and use?
The AE-1 has been out of commission for a year and needs to be repaired, but rest assured when it’s ready I will wear it out again. For Christmas I got my Lomokino, and this past April finally picked up a coveted LC-Wide. I feel I’m just starting to get a feel for the Wide, but I’ve shot a ridiculous amount of 35mm on the Lomokino, as you know.
You recently just finished a huge project that involved our movie making gem the Lomokino, tell us a little about it?
I was planning several music videos with musician John Presnell (www.johnpresnell.com), in several budget ranges. We were trying to come up with unique ideas that would make good use of our (limited) resources. I discovered the Lomokino the day after its release, and was immediately taken by it. It’d been a few years since I’d made a short film ON film, and this was a great way to sneak back into that area without breaking the bank. But when I watched some Lomo short films like “Ghost on the Beach” I saw what people could do if they were going for serious storytelling..and I couldn’t resist a chance to work with that widescreen frame.
But what also really caught me was the pleasing, staccato rhythm of the footage! It happened to match the tempo of one of John’s most popular songs, “Say You’ll Stay”, exactly. And that night I came up with the entire idea of the video and pitched it to John.
It’s not even just that it’s shooting film; it feels like it buckles and wobbles when passing through the gate in the Lomokino, just making it more unique and alive; and I think the footage imitates memory in a really interesting way. And that tied into my idea where a man would be going to important places from his relationship, and the past would keep popping up there. So while he’s trying to locate his soon-to-be-ex at places he thinks she might be, he’s also going through his past, when things were better, and trying to hold on to it.
Lomography’s varied film stocks really helped us in finding ways to let you know where you were in the story at any time. The performance is in crisp black and white(Kodak Tri-X 400 actually), the present day is shot with regular color 400 stock, and the flashbacks (when things are good between John and Donna, our actress playing his girlfriend) are on the 100 and 200 speed cross-processed stocks, which really made them stand out.
I’d only seen one brief attempt at sync-sound on the Lomokino and was determined to break as much ground there as I was trying to do with the rest of the video. I knew if all of this worked, it’d be a unique way to do a music video, and a great way to showcase John’s talent; but I also knew it could be a showcase for what the camera’s capable of. I spent a lot of time practicing cranking the camera at 4-5 frames a second, whenever John sang. Not too easy when running down hallways and turning corners! Though I knew I had the options of cutaways, I’m happy to say 9 times out of 10 his voice always synced up.
I did use a light meter most of the time to make sure I was getting the exposures I wanted. But I was happy that we were “getting it right in the camera” and that the footage was coming out even better than I expected. None of the footage was tweaked in the computer. And we kept getting even better results than we’d hoped for. I’m especially fond now of Lomography’s 800 speed stock, which we used for the video’s indoor opening and the party/snapshot flashbacks. Incredible grain, no heavy lighting needed, and it deepened shadows and texture in shots in ways I couldn’t have anticipated, but that always helped the project.
All up how long did the project take you? What did you find challenging?
While I had the ‘story’ figured out right away, I spent a few weeks planning everything from the film stocks to the costumes, to timing of beats and the geography John would cover during his journey in the film. I planned it as extensively as I would any project but allowed some room for us to improvise as we wanted to. We did some shooting and sound-sync tests in January, and shot over three weekends in February. Since it was planned around locations we could visit anytime and had almost no lighting needs, we were able to shoot pretty quickly and make random trips to pick up little bits as we needed them.
Once everything was planned out, the shooting went quite smoothly! Except for the violin solo scene and the performance scenes, the crew was just me. So it was never like a larger film shoot which takes time or needs permits, etc. But editing turned out to be the biggest challenge. Say You’ll Stay’s tempo matches the projected Kino footage exactly, and I found that if I removed a frame or two too many, it threw off that timing and something felt “off” when the footage played. So I had to edit in a way that felt natural and told the story, but also always left the same amount of frames in the timing. It’s like frame A-A-A-A then frame B-B-B-B, etc. when you put Lomokino footage on an editing timeline. If you take out one of those letters, the rhythm and timing(for this video, anyway) felt “off.”
What do you love about Lomography?
The community, the respect given to film, the innovative creation and resurrection of cameras, and finding perfection in what others might consider imperfections.
Take a look at Adam’s finished LomoKino music video!
written by lomographynyc on 2012-08-02