More and more filmmakers are going back to shooting with an analogue camera. One of them is Christopher Patrick Goode who recently submitted a silent film shot entirely with our very own LomoKino to a competition. Watch his engaging short movie that explores the psychological effects of war.
Hi Christopher! Thank you for your time. Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hello, Eunice! Thanks for having me! I'm a 25-year-old filmmaker, photographer, and media artist originally from Brisbane, Australia. I graduated at the Queensland University of Technology Film School where I honed my craft as a cinematographer and somewhere along the way I discovered my passion for still photography as well. Since then I've done a lot of music videos, corporate videography, short films. and even a documentary or two.
My work as a portrait photographer has taken me to over different 35 countries and last year I was lucky enough to travel to Japan to shoot GUTS, my first feature film as a director of photography. I've recently relocated to Denver, USA to be with my sweetheart and I am hoping to break into the film industry here next!
So far And I Ran is the only entry shot on film that joined the 48 Hour Film Project. What is the 48 Hour Film Project all about? What were the guidelines set before you create a movie?
The 48 Hour Film Project is easily the craziest, most frantic, entirely sleepless, and rewarding weekend of the year! It's a filmmaking contest where teams are given a genre, a character, a line of dialogue and a required prop. We only had 48 hours to turn these into a four to seven minute short film. When the contest was created, the aimed to showcase the fact that advances in digital video technology had made such a feat possible. According to the FAQ on their website, they've had a handful of submissions at least partially shot on celluloid and that this was made possible for them by having connections to labs and transfer houses. To my knowledge, And I Ran is the first film in the history of the Australian leg of the competition to be shot on celluloid at all and possibly the first worldwide where every step of the filming, developing, and scanning process was done by hand.
For the Brisbane 2016 competition, our required elements were:
Character: Stephanie Villner, paint enthusiast
Prop: Measuring tape
Line of dialogue: "Oh my god, this is the answer I've been looking for."
The genre is then drawn out of a hat. I was planning to shoot with a black and white film and the LomoKino regardless of the genre so I was extremely happy to draw silent film as it suited the camera's aesthetic perfectly!
Your short film tells about a “near-future civil war in Australia.” What’s inspired you to work on this storyline? Is this, in a way, the path that you think Australia will take in the future?
I sincerely hope not and that's one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story. If the recent string of conflicts and unrest across the world prove anything, it's that the balance of peace and democracy that we all take for granted is tenuous at best and easy to upset. When writing the story it was important to me not to explain the causes or justification for the war itself because why it started was unimportant. Instead I wanted to highlight the cycle of violence and the effect it had on those perpetuating it. The protagonist, Stephanie Villner, was saved by the rebellion after her town was shelled by the government. Then a prisoner of the rebels, she was forced to fight for them and from that moment on had blood on her hands. I wanted to highlight that behind the glorified valor and heroism of war there are real people that would probably much rather be at peace.
There were a lot of Star Wars references on this film, which tell that you and the crew are big fans. The explosion and gun fire effects were seamlessly integrated on the film, too. What was the most fun part of shooting And I Ran?
Hahaha! Thank you. It's hugely gratifying when an audience picks up on your intentions and influences as a filmmaker. I think it's safe to say that everyone involved with the film are fans of the Star Wars series and that the thematic and stylistic homages were quite intentional. The series has forever shaped the world of sci-fi and I think it's hard to make a film about a civil war with laser guns without those comparisons being made. Being a silent film I also wanted to channel the look and feel of influential early silent films, notably Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin and D.W Griffiths's Birth of a Nation.
The most enjoyable thing about this film was working in such a novel style and being able to play with a unique aesthetic. I knew the effects didn't necessarily need to be realistic but they did have to be consistent and looked like they "belong".
How about the most challenging one?
Getting it all done in 48 hours! It meant that after shooting I went straight home, threw the film in the tank, and scanned the negatives while they were still wet. The production hit a huge roadblock at the end of day one when one of the rolls came back blank. I think this happened because I had the film too close to the arm holes on my changing bag and the light from the nearby window destroyed the image. I had no one to blame but myself for this and I was incredibly lucky that the actors were able to come back and re-shoot the next morning. If you look carefully you can see that some of the shots at the end of the film were shot on a different stock (I'd run out of the Rollei RPX 400 and only had a roll of Ilford SFX 200 on hand) and that the filming location had been flooded by a torrential downpour overnight. Thankfully I was working with a really good team and the production was only able to recover from that point with their patience and dedication.
Why shoot with a LomoKino? How was your experience working with the camera?
The LomoKino had been a curiosity to me since it was first released. I've seen it used to great effect on music videos but I wanted to prove its potential as a serious filmmaking tool. I love the low frame rate, lo-fi hand-cranked aesthetic of the camera as it's totally unique and I knew that it would make my film stand out from the tack sharp, clear and smooth images of the other entrants.
The camera is not without its challenges, however, and I learned a lot about it throughout the process. Firstly, the cranking motion steadily loosened the tripod base plate and in some of the shots you can see the frame jiggling from side to side. Secondly, on my camera at least, the film counter was a rough approximation at best and not knowing whether I got the shots I needed or not until later was nerve-wracking. Lastly, I found that the viewfinder shows accurate framing up until a 1 meter or so from the lens. For close ups, I found that it was best to frame up slightly higher than the viewfinder suggested to get the subject in the center of frame.
Prior to using the LomoKino, have you tried other film cameras? What’s the importance of shooting with film in today’s digital world?
Absolutely. I began shooting film on a second-hand Olympus OM2n in 2013, initially as a way of shooting "full frame" cheaply but I quickly fell in love with the rich, organic and unpredictable look of film and the superior build, quality, and precision of manual focus lenses. I now shoot about half of my portraiture on film (I love the way film renders skin tones in particular) and have dabbled in shooting Super 8 and 16mm movie film also.
I don't think there's any greater "importance" to shooting film over digital than there is to, say, an artist choosing to paint a scene with watercolors over oils or drawing it with charcoal or making a woodcut, etc. I think this comparison is useful because I view the aesthetic qualities of film as another tool or brush we can use to bring our creative visions to life. Film isn't best suited to every purpose. Imagine pulling out the developing tank every time you wanted to take a selfie or Instagram a picture of your lunch for example. But for some purposes there's nothing better suited. How would The Black Swan or The Walking Dead feel without that beautiful 16mm film grain?
I think it's incredibly important to keep developing and supporting film as a technology to keep it available, accessible, and affordable because the analogue look is truly unique and impossible to fully imitate.
Any plans of shooting another film with the LomoKino?
Next time a project or story comes along that is best told in LomoKino-vision, I wouldn't want to use anything else.
All information in this article were provided to Lomography by Christopher Patrick Goode. Visit his website to see more of his work.