Dead Man’s Hand

My Film and Video Production II midterm project had a set of parameters:

  1. It had to be shot on a 16mm Bolex camera in black and white
  2. The story had to be an original script featuring 3 people playing a card game.
  3. A 4th person walks in on the card game and drama ensues.

Shooting on film is no easy task. Especially when you come from the world of video and you’re used to shooting fast and loose or run and gun. With 16mm film, its ALL in the pre-production. I had a couple of great crew members to help me bring the vision and script I wrote for Dead Man’s Hand to life. You need a script, a revised script, shot schedules, floor plans, a storyboard (yes, those are original Jon Salvia illustrations), and prop and wardrobe lists.

The best thing about this project was learning to plan for a film shoot. Breaking down every aspect of the film and trying to plan for it was as rewarding as it was challenging. Working with the actors was great.

The worst part about shooting with a 16mm camera from the ’60s? It’s a piece of crap camera from the ’60s. Lenses don’t focus correctly. The thing shakes like it’s going through a Haitian earthquake. And it’s basically ready to fall apart at any moment. Also, we were completely misinformed about the amount of time each reel of film would give us to shoot. We were told 10 minutes. In reality we had 2:42. Yeah. We didn’t realize it until the 3rd roll that our timing was waaayyyy off. But by then it was too late.

The result? We’re didn’t get 75% of the footage we THOUGHT we were getting. That kind of left a few holes in the story. No close ups of the main character. NO shots of the climax. Entire missing scenes. I’m still frustrated by this project which is why I haven’t written about it until now. We shot at the end of February, and completed the film nearly a month ago. Here’s the “remix” I did because I was bored.

I was inspired by the editing in Ida Maria’s “Oh My God”. The “strobe” effect is accomplished by lining up a bunch of (approx) 5 frame or less clips of the same action. Et voila!


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