Adrian Cousins is an analogue videographer. He works with Super 8 and 16mm film, and we came across his work with the UK based band Glass Mountain. He shot this lovely music video for their song GHOSTS using the LomoChrome Purple Super 8 Film.
In this interview, he talks about his work, the films he used and the process behind the video, as he develops the films himself.
Tell us about yourself
I shoot Super 8 and 16mm film and hand process it using DIY chemistry and original Lomo film developing tanks (UPB-1, UPB-1A and the Lomo Pro).
I started shooting film about 3 years ago when I developed chronic fatigue syndrome and was forced to quit work. I use a lot of expired stock and process it in custom made chemistry. I shoot a cart, process it, get it scanned and then edit it with Final Cut Pro X along with something fitting from my iTunes library and upload to YouTube and Vimeo.
What made you decide to shoot with film for this video?
Glass Mountain came across my work through my posts on the Super 8mm Facebook group. This is the third film I’ve done for them, but it’s the first that’s involved shots of the band and lip sync. They really liked a film I’d shot using a cart of LomoChrome Purple Super 8 Film and they were using the stock themselves. We didn’t have enough Purple to shoot the whole thing on it so we went for a mix of stocks, with Purple forming the core. It made sense to use new, more reliable film for the lip sync shots, so LomoChrome Purple and Tri-X were used for the chorus parts. Normally my films are a record of life, and what’s around me, the stock and process lend it all a certain quality. I used to shoot a lot of digital videos but I find the quality of film and the processes surrounding it more appealing. For the Glass Mountain video, we wanted to try and keep the images as sunny as possible for the video, but we were shooting in January in Bradford so we needed some saturated colour and light in the images.
We decided to shoot on a range of stock - Lomo Purple, Fuji Provie, Tri-X, and some expired Ektachrome 160A and 64T. The whole film was shot on a quartz controlled Beaulieu 6008 Pro that I got on eBay for £165 and a Schneider-Kreuznach f/1.4 / 6-70mm zoom lens. I used the TTL light meter and available light for all shots.
The expired Ektachrome and the Fuji were all processed using a custom reversal process. To increase the saturation I used a CD-4 based colour developer rather than the CD-3 developer for which these films were designed. I used an old East German repro developer Orwo A71 as the first developer, its fine grain and high contrast, and it works very well with expired stocks. I used a home-made C-41 colour developer with a ferricyanide bleach and separate ammonium thiosulphate fix ( the Kodak Ektachrome 160A needs ferricyanide bleach for the colours to completely form). For the Tri-X I made some D-94 reversal developer and used peroxide & acetic acid bleach instead of potassium dichromate.
I processed the Lomo Purple as a negative in C-41 chemistry too. Its a great film for home processing and cross processing because it has no horrible rem-jet backing to remove, and you’re not trying to reproduce ’natural’ colour. Its a pretty forgiving film too - I made the developer too alkali in my first film so it came out a little overexposed but still worked when scanned. The LomoChrome Purple lip sync scene from the video was shot just as the light was failing, but the film coped very well (better than the Tri-X), so its got decent latitude too. We would have liked to use more of it but it was sold out. I’ll certainly be getting some more of this stock if it's re-released.
What's coming up in 2018?
I need to work within the limits that my health places on what I can do, but there’s some more collaboration with Glass Mountain in the pipeline as well as work with other musicians.I’m also working on some more cross-processing and chemical film manipulation effects aimed at filmmakers who maybe shoot on digital but want to use film and particularly Super 8 to extend the expressive range of their films - for instance where they have parts of a narrative that would benefit from the use of Super 8.
There’s a lot to be gained from not just using an effects filter to try and achieve the look you’re after.
And I’m planning to shoot some place-based films around where I used to live as a child.
Here is what the band had to say about the collaboration with Cousins:
It’s been brilliant working with Ady and we have plans to do much more with him and his superb skills, both as cinematographer and darkroom wizard! There’s a lot of heart and soul going into his work. Plus, we love the “unknown” when it comes to shooting on film! “How’s it looking, Ady?” And he teases us by saying “We won’t know a thing until I process it tomorrow, duck!”. In this “perfect" digital age, it’s fun and daring to throw caution to the wind, load a roll of Super 8 and just get on with it! And look at it. It’s just so beautiful and timeless!